Geo Week News

July 27, 2016

Apollo 11 Models Released for 3D Printing, VR

Courtesy Smithsonian and Autodesk.

Back in February, Autodesk and the Smithsonian decided to scan the Apollo 11 command module *Columbia*, which they called “one of the most challenging objects ever scanned.” Now, many months later, they’re releasing the results—in a lot of different formats.

(If you’re interested in learning about the crazy array of hardware and software processing solutions they used, check my article out here.)

In commemoration of the Apollo 11 moon-landing mission, which put the first human beings on the moon, the Smithsonian has posted a super detailed model on their website. Whereas the real module is displayed behind several inches of glass, the model “allows anyone with an internet connection to explore the entire craft, including its intricate interior, which is not possible when viewing the artifact in the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.”

Courtesy Smithsonian and Autodesk

Courtesy Smithsonian and Autodesk

But the data isn’t locked down or treated as intellectual property. Autodesk and the Smithsonian have produced a few watertight models for 3D printing, including the exterior, the pilot seats, and control panel knobs. They’ve also released data for exploration using VR headsets, so all you need is a Google cardboard to place yourself inside the command module.

Surprisingly, the Smithsonian is taking the rare step of making ALL the data available, right down to the last raw scan. “We strive to make the ‘least interpreted’ data available for download,” the institution explains, “so that students and scholars alike can understand how we arrived at our final visualizations. Perhaps you will come up with your own use of these data sets.”

In the near future they’re planning to open access to the photogrammetry images, raw scan data, and foundational composited models. See all the available data here.

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