The astronauts on the Apollo 8 mission took bullets from the Gunsmoke set to space with them

It turns out that Gunsmoke was out of this world.

The appeal of Gunsmoke wasn't just felt across the world, it was felt across the galaxy too.

According to James Arness's autobiography, James Arness: An Autobiography, astronauts from the Apollo 8 mission were able to take some props from the Gunsmoke set with them on their mission. The Apollo 8 mission, which launched on December 21, 1968, was the first human spaceflight to reach the moon in orbit. This mission was not only crucial, but it also paved the way for Apollo 11, the spaceflight that landed humans on the moon.

However, that team of astronauts wasn't alone up there in space. Arness revealed that during the summer of 1968, Milburn Stone and Ken Curtis, known as Doc Adams and Festus Haggen, respectively, visited the Kennedy Space Center. At that time, they were able to peek in at preparations for the Apollo 8 mission, and even meet some of the astronauts, Frank Borman, James A. Lovell Jr., and William A. Anders. In his autobiography, Arness revealed that Stone and Curtis invited the astronauts to visit the Gunsmoke set, and to their delight, they did.

Arness wrote, "The astronauts offered to take a memento from Gunsmoke into space with them. We gave them four powderless/capless bullets from my gun." The mission was a success, with the craft orbiting the moon ten times before safely returning to Earth. However, it wasn't the last that Arness would see of his bullets.

He wrote, "Milburn got a package in the mail, with four bullets and a nice note." The astronauts were nice enough to return the mementos to the Gunsmoke cast, and in turn, Milburn shared them with Arness, Curtis, and Amanda Blake, who played Kitty. Arness wrote, "I still treasure this wonderful piece of history."


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13 Comments

WGH 3 months ago
Any astronaut was permitted to take a few items with them for just such a purpose. Many astronauts took dimes to give out to family and friends. It was a public relations thing. It's well documented
Runeshaper 3 months ago
That is a truly wonderful story! ☺️
Andybandit 3 months ago
That is cool. Too bad they can't take Barney Fife one bullet.
Pacificsun 3 months ago
You know, there's no way to sneak anything aboard a billion dollar investment. For one thing, there's a matter of contamination, and weightless ness. Did they keep them in their pockets? And what was the effect of metallurgy and every ounce of weight was calibrated. Nice thought, but all souvenirs are relative to relationship and pertinent to the experience. For the astronauts perhaps and turned into gifts. But are they marketable, doubtful.
MikefromJersey 3 months ago
Astronauts, Frank Borman, James A. Lovell Jr., and William A. Anders risked their careers
taking those bullets up with them. NASA had incredibly stringent rules about taking
contraband on Moon missions. If Armstrong had taken a sheet of stamps on to
the moon, you could have traded them for a baseball team in 1969.
I hope somebody let's the actor's heirs know those bullets are worth some bucks,
though not as much if they had been on the moon. Still, tied in to one of the most
famous and long lasting series of all time, their value at auction would probably
be shocking. Hey MeTV Guys, you should do a follow up on this story, get one of
those nerds on your Sunday night Collectibles Show to take a guess.
We are talking possibly many millions here, maybe the most expensive TV show
relics of all time.
Snickers MikefromJersey 3 months ago
The only problem with that is how do you verify these were the bullets that went into space.
MikefromJersey Snickers 3 months ago
Good point. There would have been PR shots of the astronauts visiting the Gunsmoke
set. And I assume they would have had them mounted or engraved before gifting them,
that would be normal. Plus the anecdote in the book, maybe that would be enough?
Irish 3 months ago
I never knew about 8 bullets going into space! 🪐🌛🌎🚀
cperrynaples Irish 3 months ago
It was 4 bullets! You're confusing the bullets with the Apollo mission!
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