This article appeared originally in Volume 24, Issue 3 as a column for The Weekender.
Aerospace engineering is part of Puget Sound culture, especially taking into consideration the fact that Boeing is the second largest employer in Washington state. Their influence in the aerospace industry earned Seattle the nickname Jet City.
In celebration of that facet of local culture stands The Museum of Flight in south Seattle. I love The Museum of Flight and it had been a few too many years since my last visit. I wanted to check out the Apollo exhibit, which premiered in 2017.
The museum lies down a street dotted with airplane hangars and runs directly parallel to an active runway. It became immediately apparent on the walk from the car to the front door that this building was big enough to fit a whole fleet of planes, and that expectation was realized upon walking in.
I could solely talk about how excited I get to see legendary air-frames such as the British Hurricane or the SR-71 Blackbird, but I’ve seen those all before, and I strongly recommend you visit if not just for them. That would be a bit of disservice to the museum though, so I’ll do my best to cover a wide array of what the museum has to offer.
I was directed by the front desk clerk to go down a dark hallway to the left of the main floor entrance to see the Apollo exhibit. Towering over the center of the floor loomed the Rocketdyne F-1 Engine. This specific engine was never properly used in a launch, which is why it is still in one piece. Most of the other sets of 5 F-1 engines that propelled the first people to another world are collecting barnacles at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean nowadays. The salt corroded remains of one of the F-1 Engines from Apollo 11, recovered by billionaire and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, sits today on the museum floor.
The exhibit also featured mock-ups of the Command Module that was the home for the astronauts over their 6-day round trip, the Lunar Module, also known as the Eagle Lander, and the Lunar rovers that were left behind by Apollo’s 15-17.
The exhibit included a weight simulation which reveals glaring logistical problems for how interplanetary bodybuilding competitions will work in the future. A machine with levers simulates the effort it takes to lift a 5-pound kettlebell which feels significantly heavier undergoing the gravity of Jupiter, so anyone looking to stack plates comfortably in the future may want to pay a visit to a moon gym.
I also got to take a crack at landing a virtual Lunar Lander. I cracked off the landing legs when I slammed into the Moon’s surface, tipping the craft, which was a very real threat in all of the Apollo missions. It’s hard to imagine the level of stress they were under, however, the amount of someone else’s lotion on the joystick of the simulator may have been an obstacle of similar proportion.
Overall, I had a fun time experiencing artifacts from a time where Americans dared to venture to other worlds. As billionaires like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk pour their fortunes into establishing the infrastructure for us to start doing that again, it may be about time for a look back at the way it used to be.
The Puyallup Post is the award-winning news media of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2018. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube @thepuyalluppost