What was left on the moon by Apollo 11?

What was left on the moon by Apollo 11?

Answer: An American Flag was left on the moon by Apollo 11. So was the descent stage of the Eagle lunar landing module, a plaque, a tiny silicon disc, an Apollo 1 patch, two Russian medals, tools, trash, and gear.


In case you fell asleep during 3rd grade U.S. history class, Apollo 11 was the spaceflight that first landed humans on the Moon and this Saturday is the 50th anniversary. The monumental event marked an amazing victory for the United States of America who was battling Russia for extra orbital supremacy in the space race. As history notes, “on July 20, 1969, just eight years after President John F. Kennedy threw down the Cold War gauntlet and announced the ambitious goal of ‘landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth,’ NASA astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin planted the American flag in the dusty lunar soil.” The American Flag being planted on the surface of the moon is one of the most iconic pictures of all time, but a lot of other “junk” was left on the moon by Apollo 11.

What was left on the moon by Apollo 11?

The flag of the United States, deployed on the surface of the moon, dominates this photograph taken from inside the Lunar Module (LM). The footprints of astronauts Neil A. Armstrong and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr. stand out very clearly. Credit: Space Flight / NASA




Let’s start with that American Flag that was left on the moon by Apollo 11. Is it still there? The answer isn’t as straightforward as you’d think according to ASU professor Mark Robinson, the chief scientist for the cameras attached to NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter who have photographed five of the six flags left by astronauts from the Apollo missions of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Strangely enough, the one Flag that NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter team can’t seem to find is the one left behind by NASA astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. According to AZ Central, “Robinson wasn’t surprised that orbiter cameras couldn’t spot the Apollo 11 flag; astronaut Buzz Aldrin remembers seeing the flag blow over from the engine exhaust as Apollo 11 lifted off. Robinson [also] said the Apollo 11 flag cannot be photographed because it’s on the ground; the orbiter cameras can only capture the shadow of the flags around poles.” As for the five other Flags on the moon, they probably don’t look the same as they used to. They’ve had to endure decades of hot-cold cycles, micrometeorite bombardment, and everything else that accompanies the harsh reality of life on the moon.

What was left on the moon by Apollo 11?

Aldrin walks on the surface of the Moon during Apollo 11. Credit: Wikicommons




So what else was left on the moon by Apollo 11 besides the American Flag? Well, one major item was the descent stage of the Eagle lunar landing module. On one of the legs, it has a plaque attached that says, “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon. July 1969, A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.” Forbes notes that “nearby, an aluminum capsule holds a tiny silicon disc containing messages from four U.S. presidents and 73 other heads of state, etched in microscopic lettering.” Armstrong and Aldrin also left behind an item to honor the Apollo 1 mission crew members Roger Chaffee, Gus Grissom, and Edward White. Originally planned as the first low Earth orbital test of the Apollo command and service module the mission never flew. A cabin fire during a launch rehearsal test at Cape Kennedy Air Force Station on January 27, 1967, killed all three crew members. That being said, an Apollo 1 patch was left on the moon by Apollo 11. A trinket of sportsmanship was also left on the moon by Apollo 11. The American astronauts planted two medals awarded to Russian cosmonauts Yuri Gagarin and Vladimir Komarov on the lunar surface. These were given to Armstrong and Aldrin by American astronaut Frank Borman who had originally received them from the Russians’ widows. Many less significant items were left on the moon as well including trash and tools. The American astronauts were ordered to bring home rocks and dust so they had to make room by ditching some of their gear. Below is a complete list of was left on the moon by Apollo 11 including pictures courtesy of the Lunar Legacy Project at New Mexico State University.


1. Apollo 11 Lunar Module Descent Stage (1)

What was left on the moon by Apollo 11?

2. U.S. 3′ x 5′ Flag (1)

What was left on the moon by Apollo 11?






3. Laser Ranging Retroreflector (LRRR) (1)

What was left on the moon by Apollo 11?

4. Passive Seismic Experiment (PSE) (1)

What was left on the moon by Apollo 11?

5. Neil Armstrong’s Apollo Portable Life Support System (PLSS), Model A7L (1)

What was left on the moon by Apollo 11?

6. Neil Armstrong’s Apollo Space Boots, Model A7L (2)

What was left on the moon by Apollo 11?

7. Edwin (Buzz) Aldrin Jr.’s Apollo Portable Life Support System (PLSS), Model A7L (1)8. Edwin (Buzz) Aldrin Jr.’s Apollo Space Boots, Model A7L (2)






9. Empty Food Bags (2+)

10. A Silicon Disc Carrying Statements from Presidents Nixon, Johnson, Kennedy, Eisenhower, and from Leaders of 73 Other Nations. (1)

What was left on the moon by Apollo 11?

11. A Gold Replica of an Olive Branch, Traditional Symbol of Peace (1)

12. Mission Patch from Apollo I of Virgil I. Grissom, Edward H. White 11, and Roger B. Chaffee. (1)

mission patch apollo 1

13. Commemorative Plaque attached to the Lunar Module Descent Leg. “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon. July 1969, A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.” The plaque is signed by the Apollo 11 crew and President Richard M. Nixon. (1)

What was left on the moon by Apollo 11?

14. TV Camera (1)

What was left on the moon by Apollo 11?

15. Spring Scales (2)

16. Tongs (1)

What was left on the moon by Apollo 11?

17. Small Scoop (1)






18. Scongs (1)

19. Bulk Sample Scoop (1)

What was left on the moon by Apollo 11?

20. Trenching Tool (1)

21. Camera (Hasselblad El Data) (1)

What was left on the moon by Apollo 11?

22. Armrests (4)

23. Mesa Bracket (1)

24. Solar Wind Composition Staff (1)

What was left on the moon by Apollo 11?

25. Handle of Contingency Lunar Sample Return Container (1)

26. Medals Commemorating Two Dead Cosmonauts (2)

27. Document Sample Box Seal (1)

28. Storage container (empty) (1)

29. Hasselblad pack (1)

30. Film Magazines (2+)

31. Filter, Polarizing (1 )

32. Remote Control Unit (PLSS) (2)

33. Defecation Collection Device (4)

34. Overshoes, Lunar (2)

35. Covers, Pga Gas Connector (2)

36. Kit, Electric waist, Tether (1)

37. Bag Assy, Lunar Equip.conveyor & waist tether (1)






What was left on the moon by Apollo 11?

38. Conveyor assy, Lunar Equipment (1)

39. Bag, Deployment, Life line (1)

40. Bag, Deployment, Lunar equipment conveyor (1)

41. Life line, Lt. wt. (1)

42. Tether, Waist, EVA (4)

43. Food Assembly, LM (4 man days) (1)

44. TV subsystem, Lunar (1)

45. Lens, TV wide angle (1)

46. Lens, TV lunar day (1)

47. Cable assembly, TV (100 ft.) (1)

48. Adapter, SRC/OPS (2)

49. Cannister, ECS LIOH (2)

50. Urine collection assembly, small (2)

51. Urine collection assembly, large (2)

52. Bag, Emesis (4)

53. Container assembly, Disposal (1)

54. Filter, oxygen bacterial (1)

55. Container, PLSS Condensate (1)

56. Antenna, S-Band (1)






What was left on the moon by Apollo 11?

57. Cable,S-Band antenna (1)

58. Bag, Lunar Equipment Transfer (1)

59. Pallet assembly #1 (1)

60. Central Station (1)

61. Pallet Assembly #2 (1)

62. Primary structure assembly (1)

63. Hammer (1)

64. Gnomon (Excludes mount) (1)

65. Tripod (1)

66. Handle/cable assembly (cord for tv camera) (1)

67. York mesh packing material (1)

68. SWC bag (extra) (1)

69. Core tube bits (2)

70.SRC seal protectors (2)

71. Environmental sample containers “O” rings (2+)

72. Apollo Lunar Surface Close-up Camera (1)

73. Lunar equipment conveyor (1)

74. ECS canister (1)

75. ESC bracket (1)

76. OPS brackets (2+)

77. Left hand side stowage compartment (1)

78. Footprint






What was left on the moon by Apollo 11?

79. Extension Handle

80. Stainless steel cover (9 x 7 5/8 inches x 1/16 inch thick)

81. Plastic covering for Flag

82. 8-foot aluminum tube

83. 2 + retaining pins for flag and staff storage

84. Insulating blanket

85. Small aluminum capsule


List and Picture Credit: The Lunar Legacy Project at New Mexico State University