Moon boxes and mystery men

See the box in this photo? It's more interesting than it looks. This is a box that went to the Moon.

Astronauts used the boxes to collect and bring back to Earth nearly 50 pounds of moon rocks and soil ... Each of the boxes was machined from a single piece of aluminum, "seamless except for the lid opening, which had a metalized gasket that firmly sealed when closed."

The photo comes from the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn.—a research facility that participated in the Manhattan Project and later was involved in designing equipment for the Apollo Project. Journalist Frank Munger writes about Y-12 and other parts of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory for the Knoxville News Sentinel.

This photo, which he posted on his blog, is also interesting because nobody knows who the three guys in the photo are. Munger was hoping that Boingers might be able to offer some leads.

Read Frank Munger's blog post


  1. Oakridge is an amazing city historically.  At the beginning of ww2 it boasted a population of about 2 thousand.  By the end it had a population of 60000 and was consuming something like a quarter of the US power grid.  It’s one of the great unknown engineering feats of that time.

  2. umm yeah, I was kinda expecting a useful answer. I was hoping that  maybe one of these guys could be somebody’s father. But then again, seeing that most of these replies are from high school kids, that would be impossible…

  3. “He told me he was vacuuming the curtains in the nude, slipped off his chair, and landed directly onto this gizmotrometer.”

  4. Actually, my grandfather worked at y-12, on something related to Apollo, during that time.  I could probably run the photo past him and see if he knows who they are.  It would be tomorrow before I could do that though.  He is 90 now, and is cantankerous, and recently had some cancer removed, but his memory is still good. 

    I was born around Oak Ridge and spent a portion of my childhood there.  My grandparents still live there and I live just outside town these days. Living there is interesting.  There are places you just know you are not supposed to go. Otherwise, it is a pretty normal little town.  Lots of old people though. 

  5. 3 white guys not wearing respirators inspecting foreign terrestrial specimens. Expendable for data resource acquisition.  

  6. That’s me holding the whatchamacallit standing right next to my good friend 60541 (it was top secret work, so we all went by our birthplace zip codes).  A later version of the $1.65 million whatchamacallit actually flew on Apollo 18… oops.

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