Americans are marking the 50-year anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took the first “small steps for man” and “one giant leap for mankind” as they stepped onto the lunar surface on July 20, 1969, with command module pilot Michael Collins orbiting above.
The landing marked the fulfillment of President John F. Kennedy’s 1961 directive to land a crew on the moon and return to Earth and gave the United States the edge in the Cold War space race with Russia while sealing its status as a world leader in science and technology.
This summer is packed full of events around the country honoring the hundreds of men and women who made the Apollo 11 mission possible and helped make the US a global superpower in space travel. From commemorative events on July 20 to museum exhibits, Apollo 11 galleries, virtual interactive moon landings and special television programming, Americans can find any number of ways to celebrate the historic mission and have some space-themed fun at the same time.
Numerous festivities are planned between the launch date of Apollo 11 on July 16, the moon landing on July 20 and the July 24 splashdown.
Here’s just a few of the many special events commemorating the milestone anniversary:
July 19 – NASA television is broadcasting a special program on the eve of the anniversary live from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida called “Giant Leaps: Past and Future – Celebrating Apollo 50th as we Go Forward to the Moon.” The program features live events at the newly-restored Apollo mission control room at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, a special guest at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington and more. Watch is on the NASA live channel.
July - In Neil Armstrong’s birthplace in Wapakoneta, Ohio, events include a Run to the Moon race, the Moon Festival Pageant and a “Wink at the Moon” concert. The Armstrong Museum is also conducting a public countdown to man’s first steps on the moon.
July 19 - In Huntsville, Alabama, where the Saturn V rocket was produced, residents are planning a massive street dance, including the moonwalk, reliving the day in 1969 when people took to the streets in “Rocket City” to celebrate the amazing achievement.
July 18-20 - The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum is sponsoring a commemoration that includes the “Go for the Moon” show, which involves projecting a 363-foot rocket on one side of the Washington Monument along with the Apollo 50 Festival. The festival includes exhibits, live performances and speakers on the National Mall.
Open now - The Virginia Air and Space Center Official Visitor Center for NASA Langley is featuring a “Be the Astronaut/ Apollo 50th” permanent exhibit. It’s an interactive virtual experience in the history of lunar exploration and future moon missions.
July 19-21 - The Museum of Flight in Seattle is hosting the Lunar Landing Celebration Festival. The museum is also featuring a new exhibition until Sept. 2, 2019, called “Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission, which features the Columbia command module and other rare Smithsonian artifacts from Apollo 11.
July 1- July 31 - The Exploratorium in San Francisco is hosting the Museum of the Moon: A huge photorealistic sculpture of the moon that shows every cliff and crater on the lunar surface.
Until Jan. 5, 2020 – “One Giant Leap: North Carolina and the Space Race” exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh.
July - The New York Metropolitan Museum of Art is hosting an exhibition called “Apollo’s Muse: The Moon in the Age of Photography,” featuring images of the moon dating back to the dawn of photography in the 1830s. The National Gallery of Art in Washington is also featuring a photo exhibition of early lunar images to commemorate the Apollo 11 moon landing, including the earliest lunar images by Warren de la Rue and Lewis M. Rutherford.
Until Dec., 2019 – The U.S. Space and Rocket Center – One Tranquility Base in Huntsville, Alabama, is hosting live reenactments of the Apollo 11 moon landing every day at the Davidson Center. The center is also hosting “Apollo: When We Went to the Moon,” a world premiere exhibition chronicling the timeline from the beginning of the Space Race between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union through the collaborative culture of the international Space Station program and beyond.
July 20 - The Harvard Museum of Natural History is opening a new exhibit in honor of the milestone moon landing anniversary. Called Cosmic Origins, the new exhibition is located at the Earth & Planetary Sciences gallery and features hands-on displays investigating the origins of and processes shaping planetary bodies and stars. The exhibit also features an original lunar specimen from the Apollo 12 mission on loan from NASA through Nov. 27, 2019.
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