NASA decided rather late to take a flag to the Moon on the Apollo 11 mission. In fact, they were so late that the package containing the flag was only attached to the leg of the LM on July 9th, two days before launch:

Because the final decision to fly the flag and attach the plaque was made so close to the launch date, a Lear jet was chartered to fly Kinzler, George Low (Manager of the Apollo Spacecraft Program), Low's secretary, the flag assembly, and the commemorative plaque to KSC before the launch. The flag and plaque were installed on the LM of Apollo 11 at 4:00 in the morning as the spacecraft sat atop its Saturn V rocket ready for launch. Kinzler had written an 11-step procedure for mounting the assembly on the ladder and personally supervised the installation.


The Apollo stack had left the Vehicle Assembly Building already in on May 20, and the launch tower does not seem to provide access to the LM: at the level of the fairings covering the LM there seems to be only some umbilicals connected to the stack; I cannot see a bridge that allows people to access (although the scale can be deceiving).

How did they get to the LM to mount the flag package and plaque?

I assume that there were numerous access points to the stack, since between May 20 and July 16 they were doing numerous tests and they'd need access to various parts of the stack to fix issues if needed. Perhaps the photo below is not showing those access points.

I'm looking for photo's and or diagrams that show how they could access the LM under the fairings while the Apollo stack was on the pad. Better even photo's showing the flag and/or plaque being mounted.

Apollo 11 rollout

Apollo 11 rollout; no obvious way to access the LM from the launch tower (source: NASA)


1 Answer 1


They used the Mobile Service Structure (MSS), which for some reason is rarely shown in Apollo pre-launch photos.

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The large work platforms at upper right completely surrounded the spacecraft and the upper section of the S-IVB stage, which held the Lunar Module. From these platforms, technicians could make last-minute changes to the flight hardware. For example, the US flag planted on the Moon on Apollo 11, and the “We came in peace” plaque on the LM’s leg, were installed on Eagle less than 24 hours before Apollo 11’s launch.

Source (emphasis mine)

The MSS was removed from the pad at about T-11 hours. The MSS was moved around by crawler/transporter, just like the Mobile Launcher.


In this picture of Apollo 10 rolling out to the pad, you can see the MSS at its parksite beside the crawlerway in the distance.

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Image Source

This image of the JSC Saturn V shows the access hatch in the Spacecraft Launch Adapter. (from the inside) (The X-shaped brace is not flight hardware, it was added for display).

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Personal Photo

This picture of a (possibly mockup) stack in the VAB shows the open hatch. Note technicians at left for scale.

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Image Source

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    $\begingroup$ @Ludo I added a picture. $\endgroup$ Commented May 2, 2020 at 13:22
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    $\begingroup$ I came across this thread which has a link to a nice photo mounting of the plaque during Apollo 16. Not a lot of space in there. $\endgroup$
    – Ludo
    Commented May 2, 2020 at 17:02
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    $\begingroup$ @Ludo great find! I guess the guy is laying down on those flip-up platforms. Funny that they didn't mount it in the factory for the later missions! $\endgroup$ Commented May 2, 2020 at 17:41
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    $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble, the plaque has the names of the astronauts on it, so it can't be installed until it's known who those astronauts are -- it was entirely possible that the backup crew (or in the case of Apollo 13, part of it) would be substituted for the primary crew shortly before launch. $\endgroup$
    – Mark
    Commented May 2, 2020 at 21:21
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    $\begingroup$ @Ludo - what if that tech had dropped that screwdriver into the vehicle somewhere! Delay of launch while they disassembled the thing to get it. He'd have been the goat for sure! So, no pressure installing that plaque ... $\endgroup$
    – davidbak
    Commented May 3, 2020 at 2:05

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