Recreating Space History

A Bradley University student recently had the chance to create a piece of history.

Andrew Barth

A Bradley University mechanical engineering student recently had the chance to create a piece of history. As an intern at the Smithsonian Institute's National Air and Space Museum (NASM), Andrew Barth has been working with Discovery Channel’s Mythbusters host Adam Savage and artist Jen Schachter to replicate the main crew hatch on the Apollo 11 command module “Columbia”—celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first lunar landing.

Barth Model Render
3D rendering created from a reverse-engineered CAD model. Photos courtesy of the Smithsonian Institute

Barth identified and replicated 767 pieces comprising the hatch and sent high-resolution 3D scans and technical drawings to 44 makers, who recreated each piece in their preferred medium. “I had to reverse-engineer each part of a complex mechanical assembly,” Barth notes. “Originally, the mechanical parts of the hatch weren’t required to be functional. I decided to make it all functional to make it more realistic—and make a one-of-a-kind replica.” 

On July 18th, Barth, Savage and Schachter assembled the hatch in front of an audience using the makers’ various components. It is now on display at the NASM, while the 3D scan data and printable files are available online for anyone to download. “This whole project has been life-changing,” Barth says. “If anyone had told me a year ago that future-me would be doing what I’m doing now… I would not have believed them.” Check out the 3D model at PM