Today marks the the 47th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing, and you can celebrate by taking a virtual tour inside the NASA spacecraft that carried the first astronauts to the Moon. The Smithsonian Museum and Autodesk have created a 3D scan of the inside of the Columbia spacecraft — the command module that Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins rode all the way to lunar orbit. The scan, which is available at 3d.si.edu, lets people explore the spacecraft’s insides in virtual reality, or it can be used as a template to print your own 3D model of Columbia.
Celebrate by taking a virtual tour inside the NASA spacecraft
Some background on Columbia: it’s a capsule-shaped spacecraft that rode on top of NASA’s Saturn V rocket, carrying the three famous astronauts from Earth into orbit around the Moon. Once in lunar orbit, the astronauts separated Columbia from the rest of the rocket, turned it around, and then attached it to the lunar lander called Eagle. Armstrong and Aldrin then crawled into Eagle from Columbia, and descended to the lunar surface to conduct their revolutionary walk. This handy video from Amy Shira Teitel at Vintage Space expertly explains the lunar orbit docking process:
Getting the scan of Columbia wasn’t exactly easy for the Smithsonian. The spacecraft’s interior is filled with lots of reflective surfaces and complex dashboards, which made capturing the scan difficult. But we’re glad they stuck it out, because the museum found some unknown "astronaut graffiti" inside the Columbia module during the scanning process. The astronauts had written some notes on the walls of the spacecraft, including a rudimentary calendar created by one of the crew members.