Home Guide Links Contact Valuation
< Previous Guide

Flown scissors

Next Guide >

Although they could have many contingency uses during a flight, the key role of these surgical scissors on the Apollo missions was actually to open plastic spoon-bowl food pouches.

Apollo-era scissors

NASA description: SCISSORS
Manufacturer: Weck
Model: unknown
Dimensions: approx 8" (20cm) long
Weight: approx 0.5lb (227g)
NASA part no.: SDB42100059-202
No. carried/mission: 3
No. carried in LM: 2
NASA usage: Apollo project onwards
Apollo 11 flown scissors

The scissors carried by Mike Collins on Apollo 11

The Apollo stowage lists show that each astronaut carried a pair of scissors on their pressure garment assembly at launch.

B 0204. SDB42100059-202 SCISSORS ON PGA .5 3

Scissors entries from the Apollo 10-17 Stowage Lists

In fact the scissors were kept in a dedicated pocket that was strapped on top the legs of their pressure suit garment at launch and transferred to the leg of the in-flight coverall garment once in space. The scissors of the Commander and Lunar Module Pilot traveled with them in the lunar module and back on the lunar landing missions.

Each pair of scissors came with a lanyard that tied them to piece of plastic with a metal snap fastener attached. This male snap fastener connected to a female fastener that was incorporated into the flap of the scissors pockets the astronauts wore on their legs. The lanyard prevented the heavy and sharp scissors from becoming a free-flying hazard in the weightless spacecraft interior whilst still allowing them to be used easily.

Despite this lanyard, one pair of scissors still managed to get misplaced, as related by Apollo 17 Lunar Module Pilot Harrison Schmitt:

Ron Evans with his scissors on Apollo 17

Ron Evans with his scissors on Apollo 17

"Each of us had a pair of scissors which normally traveled with us, but Ron lost his on the trip out from Earth. We had a lot of fun kidding him on the way out and all the way back about losing his scissors in a spacecraft which was, after all, not very big. But the complication was that the whole timeline on the surface was geared to having two pairs of scissors. With two pairs, Gene and I could leave one pair in the cabin and take the other pair outside - probably as a contingency tool - and not have to worry about taking it up and down (the ladder). However, because you needed the scissors to cut the plastic food bags, we finally condescended to leave one pair with Ron so that he could eat. And ultimately his scissors were found. I found them as we were preparing stowage for re-entry; but was able to signal to Gene that I'd found them without Ron knowing it. We continued to give him a pretty hard time [...] At the splashdown party we had at the Flight Control Division - probably a month after the mission - we presented the scissors to Ron with great fanfare."[1]

As with other items of personal equipment, the Apollo astronauts were allowed to keep their scissors after their flights as momentos.

In total, twenty seven pairs of scissors were flown to the moon on board the Apollo lunar missions as part of the personal equipment of the astronauts. Eleven of those pairs were carried to the lunar surface in the lunar modules. What would have been the twelfth lunar surface pair remained on the CM during Apollo 17 as noted above.

Schmitt's comments above imply that at least one of the two pairs of LM-flown scissors on each mission were actually carried outside during the EVAs. In fact this has since been confirmed by Dave Scott who stated that on Apollo 15 both he and Jim Irwin carried their scissors in a dedicated pocket of their space suits during the EVAs.


Although all flown examples from the Gemini and Apollo missions are essentially the same model of Weck surgical scissors there are some distinct variations in the maker's stamps visible on these examples that likely correspond to acquisitions made by NASA at different times over a period of several years. This may be of interest to people looking to find vintage non-NASA examples of these Weck surgical scissors that match those used by NASA.

  • Weck scissors variant 1
    Variant I :

    Stamped "WECK STAINLESS U.S.A." on the upper arm and with an oulined "WECK" logo near the joint.

    A pair of scissors flown on Gemini 10 has these markings, which makes it the oldest variant known to have been used by NASA.

  • Weck scissors variant 2
    Variant II :

    Stamped "WECK U.S.A. STAINLESS" on the upper arm, and "WEXTEEL" on the lower arm, with an outlined "WECK" logo near the joint.

    These markings are visible on scissors used on the first Apollo missions, with known examples from Apollo 7 (S/N 1003) and 9 (S/Ns 1006).

  • Weck scissors variant 3
    Variant III :

    Stamped "WECK U.S.A. STAINLESS" on the upper arm, but with no other maker's marks.

    These markings are present on examples of scissors flown on Apollo 11 (S/N 1015) through to Apollo 17 (S/N 1035).

Note that other combinations of maker's marks almost certainly exist but these are the variants I've managed to identify so far in known examples flown by NASA.

FLOWN availability - The Apollo astronauts were allowed to keep their scissors after the mission and some of these have since been sold at auction, as noted in the Annex below.

Unflown availability - NASA-issue scissors used in training are likely to exist but may be as difficult to track down as flown examples, but vintage Weck scissors of the same design used by NASA can be found from time to time on eBay.

Annex: Flown scissors sold at auction or identified in private or museum collections

Mssn.AstronautStatusItemP/NS/NVariantSold viaSale DateLot no.PriceReference / Notes
GT6SchirraFLOWNScissors20542112RRAuctionMay 23 2013183$3,061
GT10unknownFLOWNScissors20542118IRRAuctionJun 25 20155018UNSOLDAuction listing  
RRAuctionOct 23 20159127$10,450Auction listing  
AS7SchirraCM FLOWNScissorsSDB42100059-2021003IIOdyssey199483$460Sold with lanyard
HeritageNov 2 201240099$5,079Auction listing  
AS7SchirraCM FLOWNLanyardSDB 42100118-7021018See sales record of Scissors above
AS7CunninghamCM FLOWNScissorsOdyssey1994154$518
AS8BormanCM FLOWNScissorsOn display at Experimental Aircraft Association Aviation Museum, Oshkosh, WIEAA Aviation Museum website 
AS9McDivittLM FLOWNScissorsSDB42100059-2021056Private collection.
LanyardSDB 42100118-7021019
AS9McDivittLM FLOWNScissorsSDB42100059-2021004
AS9SchweickartLM FLOWNScissorsSDB42100059-2021005RRAuctionApr 23 2015128UNSOLDSold with pockets ; Auction listing  
LanyardSDB 42100118-7021020
AS9ScottCM FLOWNScissorsSDB42100059-2021006IIRRAuctionAug 13 2014430$19,501Auction listing  
RRAuctionApr 16 20208151UNSOLD
RRAuctionJul 16 20202212UNSOLD
RRAuctionOct 15 20204142UNSOLDAuction listing  
AS11ArmstrongLM FLOWNScissorsSDB42100059-2021013
LanyardSDB 42100118-7021031
AS11AldrinLM FLOWNScissorsSDB42100059-2021015IIIHeritageFall 200725366$31,070No lanyard.
Auction listing 
AS11AldrinLM FLOWNLanyardSDB 42100118-7021032PeachStateunknownn/aunknownSold with scissor pocket.
Auction listing 
AS11CollinsCM FLOWNScissorsSDB42100059-2021014Part of Smithsonian collection, NASMNASM collection 
LanyardSDB 42100118-7021033
AS12BeanLM FLOWNScissorsSDB42100059-2021016IIIHeritageMay 14 201440161$100,000Auction listing 
LanyardSDB 42100118-7021034
AS12GordonCM FLOWNScissorsSDB42100059-2021018AuroraApr 4 2004546$5,750Auction listing 
LanyardSDB 42100118-7021036
AS13HaiseCM FLOWNLanyardSDB 42100118-7021042HeritageApr 18 201340131$11,950Sold with pockets.
Auction listing 
AS15ScottLM FLOWNScissorsSDB42100059-2021028IIIRRAuctionApr 28 2015257UNSOLDNo lanyard
RRAuctionJul 15 2015537UNSOLDNo lanyard
RRAuctionOct 23 20159402UNSOLDNo lanyard
RRAuctionJun 15 2016485$26,908No lanyard ; Auction listing 
AS15ScottLM FLOWNLanyardSDB 42100118-70210??RRAuctionApr 28 2015257UNSOLDTab only ; Auction listing 
AS15IrwinLM FLOWNScissorsSDB42100059-2021030IIISwannApr 17 2008153$10,755No lanyard
AS15WordenCM FLOWNScissorsSDB42100059-2021029HeritageNov 2 201240188$8,365No lanyard.
Auction listing 
AS16MattinglyCM FLOWNScissorsSDB42100059-2021033SuperiorOct 23 19991000$2,760Stolen from Kansas Cosmosphere
LanyardSDB 42100118-702unknown
AS17CernanLM FLOWNScissorsSDB42100059-2021035IIIHeritageMar 26 200858033$17,925Auction listing 
LanyardSDB 42100118-7021073
AS17EvansCM FLOWNScissorsSDB42100059-2021019IIIHeritageApr 1 200941026$5,975Auction listing 
LanyardSDB 42100118-7021074
AS17SchmittCM FLOWNScissorsSDB42100059-2021037CSD/GFE Allocations and Schedules by Vehicle for Apollo 17
LanyardSDB 42100118-7021075
SLIIIGibsonFLOWNLanyardSDB 42100118-7021025Farthest ReachesFor Salen/a$1,000
Footnotes :

[1] Extract from Apollo Lunar Surface Journal.

Legal Disclaimer:

While every effort is made to ensure that the content of this website is accurate, the website is provided “as is” and I make no representations or warranties in relation to the accuracy or completeness of the information found on it. Nothing on this website should be taken to constitute professional advice or a formal recommendation and the author excludes all representations and warranties relating to the content and use of this site.

In no event shall the author be liable for any incidental, indirect, consequential or special damages of any kind, or any damages whatsoever, including, without limitation, those resulting from loss of profit, goodwill, income, or anticipated savings, whether or not advised of the possibility of such damage, arising out of or in connection with the use of this website or any linked websites.

< Previous Guide [ Back to the Guide ] Next Guide >