WAPAKONETA — A visiting NASA astronaut and the Apollo 11 swimmers were the highlights of Summer Moon Festival Sunday.
“The Downtown Festival ended last night, so today the museum is the center of activity. We’re trying to complement each other so people don’t feel like they have to choose between two places,” said Dante Centuori, executive director of the Armstrong Air & Space Museum. “We had a couple of astronauts this weekend. Doug Wheelock today and yesterday Doug and Mike Foreman. They both flew on the shuttle, and Doug Wheelock also flew an extended mission on the International Space Station and on the Soyuz spacecraft. Both have done spacewalks. People just love hearing stories about these space achievements. It’s great to see the little kids coming who are fascinated and looking forward to meeting the astronauts.”
Amber Manger from Leipzig brought her son Jackson (10) and daughter Presley (8) to the museum on Sunday.
“The combat swimmers are amazing,” Manger said. Prior to today, she was unaware of her role in landing the Apollo 11 astronaut crew.
The Naval Special Warfare-trained Apollo 11 frogmen, attending for the second year in a row, were Wes Chesser, Clancy Hatleberg and Mike Mallory.
“NASA had decided that the astronauts could potentially bring back a lunar pathogen that could be introduced into Earth’s biosphere, so they had to be quarantined in the command module upon exit and they had to be in biological isolation clothing (BIGs). ‘ said Hatleberg. “Their had a face mask that filtered the air they exhaled. As a decontamination swimmer, I had to have a BIG suit that filtered the air I breathed. The BIG suit also had flotation devices because if they went into the water, the astronauts might not have the strength to swim after being weightless. ”
Mallory explained that after Armstrong first emerged from the capsule after the Apollo 11 mission, he tried to speak to the newly returned astronaut, but his words were garbled due to the gas mask he was wearing. Mallory was also the only photographer to take close-up photos of the Apollo 11 landing, photos that are now on display around the world.
Both Wheelock and the three combat swimmers met visitors and signed autographs at the museum’s STEM Inspiration Center, which Centuori says is “the nexus of our educational programs.”
“We are always happy to have the combat swimmers with us again. The stories they tell are fantastic. They are “living history,” Centuori said. “The possibility of ‘moon seeds’, it’s just fascinating to hear all the contingencies they planned 53 years ago.”
Doug Wheelock, NASA astronaut during Sunday’s Wapakoneta Summer Moon Festival at the Armstrong Air & Space Museum. Richard Parish | The Lima News
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