Apollo in Oklahoma: museums where you can find some amazing artifacts

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WEATHERFORD, Okla. -- You can thank Astronaut and Weatherford-native Tom Stafford for re-directing a lot of authentic Apollo stuff back to Oklahoma.

The spacesuit he wore for Apollo X is on display at the Stafford Air and Space Museum.

"This is what he flew the all-time human speed record in," says museum curator Chaney Larsen. "It's truly incredible what these gentlemen accomplished."

They've got an Apollo 17 moon rock, a Saturn V F-1 rocket engine, and a piece of the control panel from launch central in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

"Are those original coffee stains?" asks a museum visitor.

"Yes," chuckles Larsen. "Fitting for the era."

The gem of the Apollo display in Weatherford, though, is a simple-looking piece of canvas and a fragment from the propeller of the Wright Brothers' first flying machine.

Fellow Ohioan Neil Armstrong took these fragments with him to the moon 50 years ago- only 65 years after the first powered flight.

Larsen says, "Those were actually gifted to us by Rick and Mark Armstrong, Neil Armstrong's sons."

There were Oklahomans like Stafford, the commander of Apollo X, involved in the space program, but a lot of others on the ground too.

Southwestern OSU sent nearly 30 graduates to NASA.

Oklahoma Science Museum Curator Clint Stone made sure some of their names were included in their Apollo display in Oklahoma City.

"An Oklahoman has taken part in every phase of the U.S. space program," he says.

"You'll hear about these farmers from Weatherford, OK studying in college then heading down to NASA then coming back to be farmers again."

On display at the science museum: a rare Apollo simulator, a Saturn V model autographed by Verner Von Braun, and the Emmy awarded to Tom Stafford for his live color broadcasts from space during the May 1969 launch of Apollo X.

"He won an Emmy!" states an amazed Stone.

All this and more came to rest in Oklahoma over the years, saved and put on display for visitors to admire, and maybe even to dream themselves.

Saturday, July 20 marks the official anniversary of Neil Armstrong's first steps on the moon.

Click here for more information on the Stafford Air and Space Museum.

Click here for more information on the Oklahoma Science Museum.

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