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."