Large flown sample containment bag carried on board Apollo 15, measuring 17.5 x 10.25 x 7.5, annotated in black felt tip, “LM Return Items For Crew.” The off-white beta bag is labeled on its front, “Sample Containment Bag,” and just below, “8,” and features a set of four snap tie-down straps to secure the bag and its contents during the subsequent reentry and landing on Earth; the bag contains traces of lunar dust from equipment used on the moon’s surface. The bottom of the bag bears faint ID numbering, “LOW340–60791–1, 0006.” In fine condition, with expected wear from use. Accompanied by a signed letter of authenticity from Apollo 15 Commander Dave Scott, in part: “I hereby certify that the Apollo 15 ‘Sample Containment Bag, 8’ included with this letter was carried aboard the Lunar Module ‘Falcon’ to store lunar samples and equipment returned from the surface of the Moon during the first extended scientific exploration of the Moon…As part of the extensive arrangements to prevent potential contamination of lunar samples prior to examination by scientists, and to protect the earth from potential lunar pathogens, provisions were made to clean and bag all equipment exposed to the lunar surface. The Apollo lunar surface Sample Containment Bags (SCBS) were filled with lunar soil and rock samples as well as surface equipment such as film magazines and cameras—such samples and photos were the primary objectives of Apollo missions. Great care was necessary to keep the lunar samples as pristine as possible as well as to control the amount of lunar dust in the spacecraft. As a result, specially designed polyester Beta-cloth bags were provided to package groups of samples for transfer from the LM Falcon to the Command Module (CM) Endeavor after rendezvous in lunar orbit. The bag included snap tie-down straps to secure the bag and its contents during return to Earth and subsequent reentry and landing. This SCB number 8 was stored in the LM Modular Equipment Stowage Assembly (MESA) for Earth launch and landing on the Moon. It was retrieved from the MESA during EVA-3 to package individual samples collected during the final exploration of Hadley Rille as well as samples collected in the vicinity of the LM prior to final closeout before launch. This bag contains traces of lunar dust from sample collection bags and equipment returned from the Moon...This Sample Containment Bag, number 8, has been in my personal collection since returning to Earth.” The continued technological advancement of the Apollo program enabled its fifteenth mission to achieve a myriad of scientific firsts—the debut of the lunar rover, the affirmation of Galileo’s gravitational theory, and the collection of 170 pounds of lunar material, portions of which were stored and transported within this very bag. Augmented by its rock-solid provenance, this sample containment bag exists as a remarkable, lunar-flown piece of Apollo history.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.