50th Anniversary of Apollo 11

Apollo 11 marks a monumental event: it marked the first time humans set foot on the Moon and thus altered history forever.

Museums across the nation are gearing up for an exciting summer of space-related events and exhibits, and here are a few. Neil Armstrong’s spacesuit will be on display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

July 20, 1969

50 years ago, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin made history when they became the first humans to step foot on the moon. This achievement put an end to President Kennedy’s challenge that America would send a man safely back home, sparking Project Apollo and leading to technological advances that continue to shape our lives today. To commemorate this landmark occasion, National Archives is hosting events and exhibits around Washington D.C. as well as Presidential Libraries nationwide to mark this eventful anniversary of Apollo 11.

As part of NPR Music’s celebration of Moon Landing 50, we’re sharing some of our favorite tracks from that era and invite you to share your own memories by leaving a comment or tweeting with #NPRMoonLanding50.

On July 20, 1969, the Eagle lunar module successfully landed at Tranquility Base on the moon, witnessed by almost one billion people through television broadcast. CBS news anchor Walter Cronkite provided live coverage. Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin ventured outside their Lunar Excursion Module and explored for two and a half hours – taking photographs and collecting samples – before successfully returning back home in their Lunar Excursion Modules. Michael Collins then delivered an address on humanity’s achievements in space from within his Command Module before making his speech from within.

For more information about the National Archives’ commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, click here. The Archive will also post daily tweets regarding this event as well as create a Pinterest board dedicated to sharing images from their archive.

No matter where or when it happened, this day of launch will remain indelibly marked in everyone’s memory. An astounding feat of engineering, leadership and innovation that forever altered humanity’s relationship to space will always remain remarkable to those lucky enough to witness it firsthand.

The Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum will unveil a special exhibit entitled Apollo 11: One Giant Leap for Mankind that tells the tale of NASA’s space program from its inception under President Kennedy through to scientific and technological breakthroughs that made its implementation – many from Southern California – possible.

July 16, 1969

On July 16, 1969, millions of people around the globe watched Apollo 11’s launch into space and made history four days later when Commander Neil Armstrong, Lunar Module Pilot Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Command Module Pilot Michael Collins boarded their spacecraft. President John F. Kennedy set an eight year goal to beat Soviet Russia to the moon; their efforts would accomplish just that goal.

Apollo 11’s mission was costly and dangerous for its astronauts. Many engineers, technicians and scientists contributed their time, as did thousands of technicians from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Yet it benefited America in numerous ways–from creating technology that met other national interests in space exploration to setting a precedent that allowed future space explorers like today’s astronauts to continue their efforts without Project Apollo as their foundation.

Once their lunar surface activities were complete, Armstrong and Aldrin returned to the LM, while Collins remained aboard CSM in lunar orbit. At 21:35 GMT on July 24 they docked CSM with the LM before jettisoning it and entering lunar orbit themselves; CSM later reentered Earth’s atmosphere at 23:00 GMT that evening and splashed down in Pacific Ocean.

NASA centers and museums across the United States are celebrating the 50th anniversary of lunar landing with special events and activities. At Huntsville Alabama’s U.S. Space and Rocket Center visitors can relive that historic moment by watching original footage which will be shown exactly 50 years after it happened.

Chabot Space & Science in Alameda, California will host moon-related programs and an exhibit. Meanwhile, The Exploratorium is hosting Moon Month: an entire month dedicated to lunar exploration and study.

At the Kennedy Space Center, a special celebration will take place at exactly 9:32 a.m. to honor when the Saturn V rocket carrying astronauts to the Moon lifted off from Cape Kennedy and launched towards space. Live performance of “Earth in the Balance” by John Williams from Johnson Space Center control room during landing will also take place as part of this commemorative event.

July 17, 1969

On July 21, 1969, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin made history when they landed on the moon, marking an historic event that propelled humanity forward into space. It also marked an end of Cold War human spaceflight program as well as America becoming a leader in science and technology. To commemorate this historic occasion, NPR and partner organizations are hosting an exciting program of space-themed events this summer!

The spaceflight was an ambitious four-day endeavor that started on July 16 from Cape Kennedy in Florida, sending Commander Neil Armstrong, Lunar Module Pilot Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Command Module Pilot Michael Collins towards the moon.

On January 19th, after reaching lunar orbit, the crew started making preparations to land in the Sea of Tranquility. On January 20th, all eyes turned toward television monitors which showed astronauts walking for the first time on its surface and making history.

President Richard Nixon called them from the Oval Office as they prepared to land and offered his congratulations for their achievement. Three days after landing, they were reunited with their families at their recovery site in the Pacific Ocean aboard USS Hornet (now part of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force).

Visitor to the museum can witness original footage of the Apollo 11 launch as it happened 50 years ago from Banana Creek viewing area, take in Neil Armstrong exhibit, and learn about NASA’s plan to send humans back to the Moon by 2024.

There will also be various other events commemorating Armstrong’s moon landing this year; you can view a list here. In Wapakoneta, Ohio a festival is planned with outdoor theater production “One Giant Leap” as part of its programming as well as STEM activities and demonstrations related to its legacy.

July 24, 1969

Travel + Leisure’s readers were not yet alive when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first set foot on the moon 50 years ago this July; yet people all around will mark this significant event with special commemorative events and exhibits around the globe to mark its significance.

Astronaut Museum in Titusville, Florida will showcase two spacesuits, a spacecraft replica, and a Saturn V rocket as part of its exhibits this week. There will also be a celebration car show with cars from Apollo era cars on display; opening day will include special graphics projected onto its side!

Visitors will have the opportunity to view one of the two-pound, fist-sized grey rocks carried back by astronauts and touch some of the lunar soil they collected during their mission. After returning the rock from public display at the Smithsonian, it will be given over to another institution for permanent public display.

The National Archives is making available audio from Apollo 11 mission. Recordings were made by astronauts as they left and returned from lunar surface explorations and later when reentering Earth’s atmosphere via command module “LM Eagle.” Though somewhat tinny, listeners can get an understanding of what their first steps onto another planet must have been like.

At Apollo 11, astronauts donned spacesuits designed by Katherine Johnson, a pioneering female aeronautical engineer. These suits featured sensors which allowed astronauts to feel their way across the lunar surface, along with various gadgets – including an automated robot capable of identifying samples from its surface – that helped guide exploration.

The Apollo 11 mission was an overwhelming success and marked a key moment in spaceflight history. Humans first set foot on another world for the first time ever – changing our understanding of lunar environments forever more. Today, more nations than ever before are racing to reach the moon and beyond.

As we honor the accomplishments of Apollo 11, it is also worthwhile to acknowledge all those – women, men, and children alike – who made its success possible.

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