Space Tourism in the spotlight in the United States for the 50th anniversary of the first man on the moon
This year marks the anniversary of a major step in the history of astronomy. On July 20, 2019, it will be 50 years since Apollo 11’s Lunar Module Eagle landed on the moon. American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first men to set foot on the moon, and Armstrong’s « small step », which has been talked about for decades, remains one of the most significant events of the last century.
And because 50 years is something to celebrate, many American destinations will celebrate this anniversary through a series of events. Ephemeral exhibitions, street parties, cocktails on the theme of the moon and meetings with real astronauts will provide an opportunity to learn more about this historic mission and the complexity of the work accomplished, to the delight of astronomy enthusiasts.
The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex – Merritt Island, Florida
On July 16, 1969, the Apollo 11 rocket took off from the Kennedy Space Center, located on Merritt Island, one of the most emblematic sites for space enthusiasts. On the occasion of the anniversary, the site will offer learning activities, interactive exhibits and question-and-answer sessions that will entertain visitors throughout the day.
The main hall retraces the history of space travel as well as its future and all the research dedicated to it. There is also the Rocket Garden, where replica rockets culminate above visitors. It also houses the new Heroes & Legends and the Hall of Fame, where films and exhibitions pay tribute to astronauts. The Kennedy Space Center also offers the opportunity to meet astronomy professionals. Visitors will be able to ask astronauts about their lifestyle, training and travel. Finally, IMAX films offer the opportunity to learn more about space and our planet through a series of videos and interviews.
Flagstaff – Arizona
Although the Apollo 11 space shuttle took off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, most of the crew training took place in Flagstaff, Arizona. Neil Armstrong, pilot Buzz Aldrin, and the 11 other astronauts who took part in the mission used the region’s volcanic ash fields to reproduce the lunar landscapes. They carried out their buggy driving simulations and geological training.
As part of a year-round festival celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 1969 moon landing, visitors to Flagstaff can take a seat in a buggy used by astronauts and try out other accessories from the Apollo missions.
At Flagstaff’s Lowell Observatory (where Pluto was first observed), travellers can study space with telescopes and attend events such as the Cosmic Questions and Meet and Astronomer – where a team of professionals will answer all questions.
The observatory also hosts signing sessions and readings throughout the year, while several bars and restaurants in the city are celebrating this 50th anniversary by offering dishes and drinks on this theme.
Philadelphia – Pennsylvania
Adults and children alike will love going to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, founded in 1824 by Benjamin Franklin, which is now one of the best science museums in the world. In addition to displaying a lunar rock recovered by astronaut Dave Scott during the Apollo 15 mission, it houses many incredible attractions, such as the Hallway Planetarium, which includes eight screens displaying live information from NASA and the institute. The exhibition not to be missed for astronomy enthusiasts is Space Command. Here, visitors can learn more about the Moon, build a « Mars Rover » robot, then watch it progress on rocky terrain and rotate a ball in the Gravity Well to see the force in action. At another location, visitors can touch a meteorite, learn about the planets and how they are affected by the sun.
Houston – Texas
The city of Houston, Texas, is home to the Apollo Mission Control Center. The latter is located in NASA’s Johnson Space Center. It was from this site that the NASA team planned and carried out the first space flight missions until the consecration on July 20, 1969, when the first man walked on the Moon. To celebrate this anniversary, the Space Centre, accompanied by a community of enthusiasts from around the world, is working to restore the mission’s progress, in order to accurately describe the appearance of the region during the moon landing.