Private Collections

Other collections

Employee/Guest badges

The Crew at the Cabin

Private collections of Firing Room materials

Scott Unterberg collection

The Ultimate Collector

NASA KSC engineer Charles Bell was appalled at the quantity and quality of material that was being scrapped as the Space Program moved on from the Mercury-Gemini-Apollo era. Bell decided to “rescue” as much of the hardware as he could. He purchased tons (literally) of materials that were being sold for scrap. He hoped to create a museum someday. He quickly became overwhelmed by the volume of items he salvaged. Where do you put a surplus $10 million Atlas rocket that you bought for scrap for $10? His museum-in-waiting became a junkyard - and then several junkyards.

Bell died unexpectedly at age 57 in February 2000, and his dream of a museum died with him. He left 56 tractor trailers of material spread over 7 acres at 2 sites, not to mention the trailers that Bell kept at his house in Merritt Island. However, Bell’s passing created a bonanza for collectors of space artifacts. A huge auction in May 2000 sold off Bell’s estate.

As far as I have been able to determine, all of the LCC control panels in private collectors’ hands today can be traced back to the May 2000 Charles Bell auction. According to Sandy Clarkson, who was present at the auction:

I was at the same auction.  In Florida (pre online days).  Dirty old large open shed. (more like a scrap yard) These panels were in open movers’ crates.  Maybe 20-30 each.  4-5 crates.  Each crate went for $300 - $400.”  

The LCC control panels in Bell’s estate appear to have been from Firing Rooms 2 and 3. There were also panels that may have come from the VAB and O&C Building and from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. However, with Bell’s estate, it seems anything was possible!

The collections on this page are drawn from sources who can trace their collections back to the Bell estate.

Other collections

Employee/Guest badges

Firing Room 3 in 1976

Public exhibitions of Firing Room equipment

Collector Scott Unterberg has an extensive collection of Apollo control panels, representing every stage of the Saturn V and the Saturn IB launch vehicles.

Scott loaned many of his control panels to the Charles M. Schulz Museum for an exhibit in 2009, "To the Moon: Snoopy Soars with NASA," to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Apollo 10. (The Snoopy connection is that the call sign for the Apollo 10 Lunar Module was “Snoopy,” and the Command Module was “Charlie Brown.”). Scott’s panels were installed into a simulated rack representing a part of the FIring Room. Reading in columns from the left, the panels in this exhibit include: S-IC Cutoff Sensors, S-IC Fuel System, S-IC Hydraulics, Events Display, S-II Recirculation, S-IVB Stage Pressure, Guidance Computer Panel, S-IVB GH/GN Control, S-II Engine Deflection, IU Operations, Test Supervisor, S-IVB Engine Deflection, and S-IVB APS Launch and Monitor. On top of the display are two Countdown/ Range Time clock displays from CCAFS.

The Scott Unterberg Collection