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A Logan Square Artist Illustrated Every Item On The Apollo 11

By Gwendolyn Purdom in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 21, 2016 5:08PM

Photo courtesy Rob Loukotka

Artist and self-described "space nerd" Rob Loukotka feels a little left out. At just 27, the Lakeview resident wasn't around 47 years ago Thursday when Neil Armstrong took his famous first steps on the moon and Apollo 11 took off from the lunar surface to return to Earth.

"It feels like this amazing human achievement and nothing in my lifetime has felt that way," Loukotka said. "[Our generation doesn't] have that [unifying moment], except for tragedies. I think it's cool to have an inspirational moment that everyone talks about."

To make up for not experiencing Apollo 11's historic mission firsthand, Loukotka is drawing it—down to the last chlorine ampule and chronograph. "The Apollo 11 Collection," a poster Loukotka has spent two months researching and creating, includes illustrations of all 69 items that were documented as going on board Apollo 11's trip to the moon in 1969. Kickstarter funding for the project, which has already far-exceeded its initial $1,450 goal by raising more than $31,000, ends at 4:35 p.m. Thursday (the exact moment the lunar module docked with the command module on the Apollo mission.) When Kickstarter funding closes, the poster will be available for purchase from Fringe Focus, Loukotka's Logan Square studio.

Loukotka sifted through NASA's original launch manifests and stowage lists from the '60s to track down every last cleaning towel, pen light and dehydrated cube of fruit the Apollo astronauts brought with them; then used a digital tablet to draw each item, along with a description of it, in striking metallic silver ink on a rich dark blue paper.

Through his research, Loukotka not only found the physical supplies it takes to deliver a spacecraft to the moon, but a fresh perspective on the mission. He learned, for instance, that the first food ever eaten on the moon was dehydrated bacon. ("It probably tasted like dog food," Loukotka said.) The crew was also ready for anything. In addition to their variety of space tools, the astronauts brought an ocean survival kit with them in case things didn't go as planned on their return to earth. One item you apparently need to survive floating in the ocean? A machete.

"I think it's funny that there's all this really high tech stuff and then there's just a big Crocodile Dundee knife," Loukotka said.

Photo courtesy of Rob Loukotka

Initially, Loukotka assumed the poster would sell a few dozen copies like some previous space-themed art he'd done had. But word spread among the space fan community, Loukotka said, and as of Thursday morning, nearly 1,000 posters have been ordered. Since he started promoting the poster, Loukotka's heard from retired NASA staffers who worked on the mission as well as current employees. "Myth Busters" former host Adam Savage even ordered a copy.

"I wasn’t sure if there were enough nerds like me out there who would be interested," Loukotka said.

It appears there certainly were.