New space artifacts can be seen in Columbus for 50th anniversary of Apollo 11

New Apollo Mission artifacts arrive at Space Science Center

Shawn Cruzen, executive director of Columnbus State University's Coca-Cola Space Science Center gives a quick overview of three new items from NASA's Apollo program that will be on display.
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Shawn Cruzen, executive director of Columnbus State University's Coca-Cola Space Science Center gives a quick overview of three new items from NASA's Apollo program that will be on display.

As the 50th anniversary of the moon landing approaches Saturday, Columbus resident Tom Scott figured this is a fitting week to donate more artifacts from his brother’s collection to the Columbus State University Coca-Cola Space Science Center.

His brother, David Scott, is one of only 12 people to have walked on the moon. He also was the first to drive on the moon, part of the Apollo 15 mission in 1971, the nation’s fourth manned lunar landing and his third space flight.

David Scott also flew on the Apollo 9 mission in March 1969 and the Gemini 8 mission in 1966. His flight partner on Gemini 8 was Neil Armstrong, who three years later became a bit more famous as the first human to walk on the Moon during the Apollo 11 mission.

“Each of the Apollo missions made it possible for Apollo 11 to be successful,” Tom said.

So as David was going through stuff while moving from California to Florida this year, he decided to give Tom more Apollo artifacts for their third donation of space memorabilia to the center.

The three artifacts donated Thursday are:

A NASA manual about space photography signed by David Scott

A montage of Apollo mission memorabilia signed by Apollo 17 astronaut Gene Cernan, the last person to walk on the moon

A proclamation signed by President Richard Nixon in 1971 declaring July 20 as National Moon Walk Day

They will be on display Saturday, along with the other two batches of space mission artifacts donated to the center by the Scott brothers.

At the 50th anniversary celebration of the Apollo 9 mission, Tom recalled, David told the gathering at the San Diego Air & Space Museum, “We need to educate and re-education people about space.”

The Scott brothers are doing that with their donations to the center in Columbus.

Approximately 20,000 of the center’s 35,000 annual visitors come on school field trips. Shawn Cruzen, the center’s executive director, explained the power of these artifacts to help educate those students.

“You hear about history, you study history, but when there’s tactile contact with history, when you can see something that was in the hand of somebody who’s been on the moon, then that makes all the difference. It makes it much more tangible, much more real,” he said.

For example, when Cruzen shows visitors the previously donated patch David Scott wore on the moon, “it completely changes their experience. I see looks of awe. … They ask, ‘Is that real?’”

These donated artifacts and others from NASA have elevated the center’s level of what it offers visitors.

“Everything we used to have was a mock-up,” Cruzen said. “… We’ve been able to transition into also a museum, where we are able to show these artifacts that have provenance, that are real, been on the moon, been in orbit, were in the hands of an astronaut or signed by actual astronauts.”

If you go

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first lunar landing, the Columbus State University Coca-Cola Space Science Center, 701 Front Ave., will have an additional activity to their regular offerings Saturday: make and launch a souvenir Saturn V rocket, 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., which comes with the regular admission fee of $6 for adults, $5 for military and seniors, and $4 for kids younger than 12.

Ledger-Enquirer staff writer Mark Rice covers education and other issues related to youth. He also writes feature stories about any compelling topic. He has been reporting in Columbus and the Chattahoochee Valley for more than a quarter-century. He welcomes your local news tips and questions.