Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the First Moon Landing Through Travel
For history buffs, this summer is the perfect time to relive the excitement and anticipation of 50 years ago, in July 1969, with the Apollo 11 spaceflight and man’s first steps on the moon.
At the Johnson Space Center, in Houston, you can take a behind-the-scenes tour of astronaut training facilities and Mission Control, where a NASA team guided the flight of Apollo 11. At the adjacent Space Center Houston, visitors can browse through exhibits containing hundreds of artifacts, from the early Mercury and Gemini missions to the space shuttle and International Space Station. Special events will take place from July 16-24, including a live countdown to the anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon on July 20, 1969.
The Apollo 11 mission was launched from the Kennedy Space Center, about an hour from Orlando on Florida’s east coast. Take a tour of the Space Center and its exhibits documenting the history of spaceflight, and see if you have the right stuff by going through the Astronaut Training Experience. You can sign up for the 5-hour program or an individual stage of 30 to 45 minutes. Participants will learn what it’s like to work in the zero-gravity environment of space and get a look at what life might be like on Mars.
Pay tribute to Neil Armstrong with a visit to the Armstrong Air and Space Museum, located in his hometown of Wapakoneta, Ohio, about a 90-minute drive from Dayton. The town and the museum will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the lunar landing with events from July 12-21, including a hot air balloon rally, a parade, a space-themed escape room and the Summer Moon Festival, featuring appearances by astronauts and demonstrations of the museum’s Lunar Rover. Dayton is home to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, with more than 350 aircraft and other artifacts on display.
Neil Armstrong’s Apollo 11 spacesuit will go on display July 16 for the first time in 13 years, following a conservation effort financed by thousands of public donations. You can see it at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, in Washington, D.C. Activities to commemorate the anniversary of the moon landing will be held at the museum and on the National Mall from July 16-20. On July 20, there’ll be a late-night celebration counting down to the exact time Armstrong set foot on the moon.
Denver’s Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum has planned a week long celebration, dubbed Apollopalooza, from July 13-20. It’s a chance to learn about the history, and also the future, of space exploration. There’ll be movie screenings, a 1969-themed party and talks by astronauts, engineers and scientists, including some who worked on NASA’s Apollo program. Other events include an afternoon of hands-on art, technology and science activities for adults and children on July 15.