Longtime Rio Vista resident Jerry Machado recently deposited a very special coin into the bank.
Unlike your typical coin, Machado received the commemorative medallion for being part of Explosive Technology in Fairfield. The company was assigned to build an “umbilical cord” for NASA for the Apollo 11 mission to the moon.
The coin itself is actually made up of the metals from the Apollo 11 spacecraft, and commemorates the landing on the moon. On the coin it reads, “The medallion contains metal from spacecrafts Columbia and Eagle that took astronauts Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins on their historic Apollo 11 mission that resulted in the first landing of man on the moon.”
“I hadn’t showed this to anyone except my wife and kids and some friends at a poker game,” said Machado. “My friends said, “how do we know this isn’t a phony?” Where is the letter of authenticity?”
Machado assures that the coin is real, and when one looks at it – it is obvious how old the coin is. The sheer craftsmanship and artistry of the coin shows that it is truly authentic.
Machado received the coin after working for Explosive Technology, in which 99 percent of the engineering projects they worked on were specifically for NASA. In this case, the “umbilical cord” part was designed for the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM). When Aldrin and Armstrong went onto the moon, they had to have a way to launch back to the spacecraft.
This is where the “umbilical cord” came in.
The part connected oxygen and electrical parts to create a combustion that in turn launched a rocket back to the spacecraft. Without this critical piece of engineering genius, Aldrin and Armstrong would have never made it back to the craft.
“If they hadn’t had that part, they’d still be there,” said Machado.
On the coin it reads, “The Eagle Has Landed – Apollo 11 Medallion for your contribution to the United States Space Program. One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Machado explained that there were two divisions at Explosive Technology, a systems division (which made the part) and the other department that made the explosive component of the part.
“We were the only company making this,” said Machado. “No one else was involved in this project. NASA gave us the project, and the engineers produced the part.”
While this is just a small piece of American Space history, it is miraculous to see how many people were actually involved to make those moon landings happen. Machado noted that several other co-workers lived in Rio Vista at the same time, but he isn’t sure what happened to them.
The link from the past to now in the space program is significant. Without those technologies being discovered, the road would not have been paved for the progress in technology and engineering that exists today. The coin shows the appreciation that NASA had for all those that were involved in getting the first men to the moon.
As soon as Machado left the RNH office with his coin, he deposited in the bank for safekeeping after all these years. Finally.