Amazing flown gold-colored “Rescue” arrow from the hatch of the Apollo 11 Command Module ‘Columbia,’ measuring 11.75″ x 3.5″, which was applied over the capsule’s exterior Kapton foil covering. The arrow pointed to the panel used to gain access to the spacecraft’s cabin from the outside, which would have been used in case of emergency. It has a distinctive and unique burn pattern due to the high temperature of re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere, and is clearly photo-matched to the photos taken of the Command Module upon Pacific Ocean recovery on July 24, 1969. As one of the only immediately visually identifiable elements of the spacecraft’s exterior, this is a truly remarkable and displayable piece; such flown items are virtually unobtainable. In very good condition, with a split at the center; it is currently taped to a black sheet but could easily be removed for display. From the collection of a former North American Aviation quality control engineer and accompanied by a signed photo of him working inside a Command Module, and a letter of provenance.
This item was featured with its owner on the February 27, 2017 episode of Antiques Roadshow. He worked at North American Aviation as an inspector and later as a quality control engineer, resulting in his extensive interaction with each Apollo Command Module and the astronauts who flew onboard them. Overall, he worked on NASA’s spacecraft from the unmanned flight and test spacecraft to Apollo 1 all the way through Apollo 17, Apollo-Soyuz, three Skylab missions, and preflight development of the Space Shuttle. After the historic Apollo 11 mission, and following its initial quarantine at the Johnson Space Center in Houston Texas, the capsule was temporarily transferred back to North American Aviation in Downey, California, for post mission performance analysis and cleanup. The quality control engineer received this arrow decal, which would have been otherwise consigned to disposal after the spacecraft’s exterior was thoroughly stripped down by NAA’s engineering team.
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