Business News Update: Elmer's Flag and Banner, Kites, Too!
During the height of the Cold War, in September 1959, the Soviet Union crash-landed a probe containing a Soviet flag on the moon. Would this mean that the Soviet Union could claim the moon? Many Americans debated this point and the U.S. government held the position that we would not recognize any territorial claim unless the flag was "planted".
Of course, the space race continued with America determined to win. For the moon-bound flag, there were logistics to work out, such as how to carry the flag and pole (66 inches tall with a three-foot horizontal extension) in the cramped confines of the Apollo command module and lunar lander. Wearing bulky spacesuits, how would the astronauts secure it securely into the moon's surface?
NASA created a telescoping pole with the horizontal bar able to swing into position. It would be carried in a stainless-steel outer jacket with aluminum, Thermoflex and Kapton insulation to protect it from extreme heat since it would ride behind the ladder outside the lunar module and be subjected to hot engine exhaust reaching 2,000 degrees. The nylon flag from the famous July 20, 1969 Apollo 11 moonwalk is rumored to have been purchased from a government supply catalog and was fitted with a sleeve to slip over the horizontal bar.
During the Apollo program, six American flags were left standing on the moon. More recent photographs taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter show the flags of Apollo 12, 16 and 17 still standing, though the fabric has faded and is disintegrating. All remain a lasting testament to America's ingenuity and dogged determination.
Elmer's Flag and Banner
1332 N.E. Broadway, Portland
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