Jul 18, 2019 | Updated: 10:03 AM EDT

Neil Armstrong's Apollo 11 Artifacts Stowed Away For More Than 40 Years

Feb 10, 2015 01:00 PM EST

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Neil Armstrong's Long-Lost Purse Aboard the Apollo 11
(Photo : NASA)

As NASA researchers from the Goddard Space Flight Center revealed this week what lies on the dark side of the moon, the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC reveals that space artifacts from that region of the moon may have been hiding here on Earth since the return of Apollo 11. In what appears to be yet another giant leap in the Apollo 11 mission, it turns out that the first man to walk on the moon, Neil Armstrong, also brought home with him a bag full of keepsakes from his adventure. And they were hidden in his cupboard for more than 40 years.

Stowed away in his closet at home, Armstrong kept several keepsakes from the mission that marks his legacy. And while he lived his entire life in the spotlight as the first man to walk on the moon, it wasn't until after his death in 2012 that his wife Carol Armstrong found the white cloth bag filled with treasures from the moon. Now, researchers from the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC are taking a look at the artifacts, and the pieces left in the back of his closet for many years are proving to be of significant historical importance.

"I received an email from Carol Armstrong that she had located in one of Neil's closets a white cloth bag filled with assorted small items that looked like they may have come from a spacecraft," Apollo curator at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC, Allan Needell says. "Needless to say, for a curator of a collection of space artifacts, it is hard to imagine anything more exciting."

Referred to as the "McDivitt purse", after the Apollo 9 astronaut who devised the idea, the bag was taken onboard in the event that astronauts wanted to return with any pieces from the mission. And it appears that Armstrong brought back more than just a few odds and ends. Its contents included Armstrong's waist tether, an emergency wrench, utility lights and their brackets, equipment netting, an optical sight which was mounted above Armstrong's window and the 16mm data acquisition camera that recorded the iconic footage of his descent down the ladder to take the first steps onto the moon.

It is still unclear as to why the former astronaut kept the items a secret, even when directly questioned by his authorized biographer, however, Needell says that artifacts add greatly to the historical account of the Apollo 11 mission. And while NASA does not report any record of the astronaut taking the purse home after the mission was complete, researchers say that there may be more pieces tucked away, since astronauts often kept parts of their capsules as souvenirs.

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