The Cosmosphere and Exploration Place will hold events this month to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
NASA astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first people to set foot on the moon July 20, 1969. The event was viewed worldwide.
The Cosmosphere in Hutchinson will hold a week-long anniversary celebration of the moon landing, starting July 15, that's aimed for people of all ages and education levels.
Carla Stanfield, the Cosmosphere’s public relations coordinator, hopes that there is an event during the week for everyone to enjoy while also learning about the historic landing.
“ … thinking about some of the feats that these people had to overcome ... not just the training of the astronauts, which I’m sure was intense, but thinking about, ‘What if the mission didn’t go well?’” Stanfield said.
On top of teaching visitors about the risks that were taken during the missions, the Cosmosphere will also screen documentaries and presentations about the landings. Some of the presentations will include footage from the moon as well as previously unreleased audio logs from the mission.
“So you’ll get some video of the training and the launch and the Walter Cronkite CBS footage, so it really kind of puts you back in to time to absorb what it meant to us as a nation to accomplish such an amazing thing,” Stanfield said.
The Cosmosphere works to preserve all of the stories of the historic landing, as well as many of the artifacts used during the Apollo missions. Earlier this year, the Cosmosphere’s SpaceWorks team completed a $5 million dollar restoration project of the mission control consoles that were used for the Apollo 11 landing.
“If the astronaut can’t tell the difference between the authentic artifact and the refurbished artifact,” Stanfield said, “that’s the goal of the SpaceWorks team.”
The restored consoles are now in an exhibit at Johnson Space Center in Texas.
While the Cosmosphere works to preserve and retell the stories of the past, Exploration Place will provide events more focused on teaching new generations of space explorers.
Exploration Place will celebrate the anniversary with LunarLeap50 on July 20. The event will include a variety of educational activities for children.
Christina Bluml, director of marketing and communications for Exploration Place, wants LunarLeap50 to be an event where kids can not only learn about the moon landing, but start developing an interest in the STEM field.
“I think coming here and celebrating this event with us and then seeing what’s to come will hopefully inspire young children to pursue those careers.” Bluml said.
Before LunarLeap50, Exploration Place will host summer day camps featuring space-themed programs that kids can take part in.
Exploration Place and the Cosmosphere also partnered with Lake Afton Public Observatory for the landing celebration. The observatory is hosting events every weekend in July.
All three organizations hope that the variety of events will help people get a new perspective about the world around them.
“If it’s not just about this one little world that you only know about,” Bluml said, “then you’re looking at the world in totality.”
Attendance to LunarLeap50 is included with a general museum admission purchase and will start at 10 a.m. at Exploration Place. Prices for the summer camps can be seen at http://exploration.org/visit/calendar/.
A list of events at Lake Afton Public Observatory can be found at www.lakeafton.com/calendar.
A detailed and extended list of Cosmosphere events can be found here. Events include:
• Monday, July 15: Presentation and book signing by author Rick Houston and screening of “Mission Control: The Unsung Heroes of Apollo” from 6 to 8:45 p.m.
• Thursday, July 18: A presentation by the Cosmosphere’s curator, starting at 9 a.m.
• Saturday, July 20: Anniversary starts at 10 a.m. with educational and historical activities for kids, as well as screenings of Smithsonian Channel documentary “The Day We Walked on the Moon” at 12 and 2 p.m.
• Saturday: “Landing on the Lawn” at the Hutchinson Community College Lawn will offer a variety of space-themed activities from community organizations. “The Day We Walked on the Moon” will also be shown and a telescope will be available for moon and planet viewing. The event starts at 6 p.m.
Kevin Benavides is an intern in the KMUW News Lab.