Recreating a Piece of Significance

Apollo 11 landed the first man on the moon 50 years ago, on July 20th, 1969.  NASA decided that in the event that time on the moon would be cut short, they wanted a contingency plan for retrieving lunar samples from the Sea of Tranquility landing site.  

For this purpose, the Contingency Lunar Sample Return Bag was created. 

The first planned task of being on the moon was to collect about 1 kilogram of material near the lunar lander.  This was done in view of the lunar lander camera and would become the first samples collected from the surface of the moon. The samples were placed in the Lunar Sample Bag and stowed in the Lunar Module.

The mission was a huge success with the crew and lunar samples safely returned to earth. Because of this, a contingency bag was no longer needed for future missions and no more were created.

Until now.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, we are making an authentic reproduction of The Contingency Bag.  

The bag is 12”x8.5” in size, zipper closure and made of real Beta cloth. 



There were 7 missions to the moon (Apollo 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17) all but 13 landed successfully. Because Apollo 11 was a success, the contingency bag was not needed or used for the following missions. In total 842 pound of moon rocks were sent back to earth.



After the Apollo 1 fire, all combustible material had to be replaced in the spacecraft with fire resistant materials. From our research we were able to determine the specifications and sewing techniques used to make the original bag and use them on this reproduction. Beta cloth is extremely expensive and hard to obtain, but our previous work with a certified USA based manufacturer allows us to purchase the material and have it cut and sewn in a limited, one time production run.



The mission was a huge success with the crew and lunar samples safely returned to earth. The contingency bag shows up again in transcripts when the lunar lander docks with the command module piloted by Mike Collins. Armstrong hands the bag to Collins so he can experience what the moon feels like, but tells him not to open it. This would risk contamination and filling the command module in zero gravity with fine bits on moon dust.

04 13 37 08 CDR (Armstrong): “Contingency sample is in the pocket. My oxygen in 81 percent. I have no flags, and I’m in minimum flow.”

04 13 37 22 CC (CapCom): “This is Houston. Roger, Neil.”
— Apollo 11 Technical Air-to-Ground Transcript

Lunar Sample Return Photos courtesy of Puntzi (actual replica product) // Historic Photos courtesy of NASA.