Historic moon walk happened 45 years ago. NASA TV and Kennedy Space Center have special events
By Peter Covino
If you are 50 or older, chances are you know exactly where you were and what you were doing this weekend 45 years ago.
That’s when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin made that famous “one giant leap for mankind” and became the first men to walk on the moon.
If you missed it the first time around or want to relive those historic memories, NASA will mark the occasion on Sunday, July 20, the day Armstrong opened the hatch of the lunar module Eagle and began the first spacewalk on the moon. NASA TV will replay the restored footage of Armstrong and Aldrin’s historic steps on the lunar surface at 10:39 a.m.
On Monday, July 21 at 10 a.m., NASA TV will air live coverage of the renaming of the Kennedy Space Center’s Operations and Checkout Building in honor of Armstrong, who died in 2012. The renaming ceremony will include NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, Kennedy Center Director Robert Cabana, Apollo 11 crewmember Michael Collins and astronaut Jim Lovell, who was the mission’s back-up commander. International Space Station NASA astronauts Reid Wiseman and Steven Swanson, who is the current station commander, also will take part in the ceremony from their orbiting laboratory 260 miles above Earth.
The operations and checkout building has played a vital role in NASA’s spaceflight history. It was used during the Apollo program to process and test the command service and lunar modules. The facility is still in use, processing and assembling NASA’s Orion spacecraft, which the agency will use to send astronauts to an asteroid in the 2020s and Mars in the 2030s.
On Thursday, July 24 at 6 p.m., the 45th anniversary of Apollo’s return to Earth, the agency will host a televised panel discuss called NASA’s Next Giant Leap, from Comic-Con International in San Diego. Moderated by actor Seth Green, the panel includes Aldrin and other space experts, who will talk about Orion and the Space Launch System rocket, which will carry humans on the next great venture into space.
The website http://www.nasa.gov/apollo45 contains features, videos, historic images and audio clips highlighting the 45th anniversary as well as the future of human spaceflight.
You can be part of the conversation on social media about the anniversary using hashtags #NextGiantLeap and #Apollo45.
Central Floridians can be even more hands-on with the 45th anniversary celebration with special events at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
The complex will host a special appearance by Bruce McCandless II, Apollo 11 capsule communicator and space shuttle astronaut, on Sunday.
McCandless is a veteran astronaut who served as the Apollo 11 capsule communicator for the first lunar spacewalk. During this historic event, he was responsible for communication between Mission Control and the three Apollo 11 astronauts: Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins. McCandless began his NASA career in 1966, serving in numerous capacities until his opportunity for spaceflight during the Space Shuttle Program. He flew two shuttle missions, but is best known for his first, STS-41B, when he made the first, untethered free flight spacewalk. The iconic picture of McCandless using the Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU) was taken by crewmember Robert “Hoot” Gibson.
Also on Sunday, guests can participate in a 1 to 2 p.m. meet-and-greet session with McCandless in Space Shuttle Atlantis. In addition, during a special Astronaut Encounter with McCandless beginning at 4 p.m. in the Astronaut Encounter Theater, guests will have the opportunity to relive the Apollo 11 moon landing and hear first-hand what it was like to communicate with the astronauts as they made that remarkable step in history.
The events with McCandless are included with daily admission to the Visitor Complex. All Visitor Complex guests also will receive a special commemorative Apollo 11 pin recognizing one of humankind’s greatest achievements, landing on the moon.
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is also offering an exclusive opportunity to annual passholders, who can join McCandless for a private tour through the Apollo/Saturn V Center as he recounts his experience communicating with the Apollo 11 astronauts during their extraordinary mission. This is a limited capacity tour designed exclusively for annual passholders and advanced reservations are required by calling 866-714-9795.
In addition to enjoying the Apollo 11 45th anniversary special events, Visitor Complex guests can relive the Apollo program at the Apollo/Saturn V Center. Guests can explore and experience the tremendous accomplishments of the Apollo Program through dramatic multi-media shows and numerous hands-on displays that provide an inspirational and exhilarating look into America’s quest for the moon.
At the Apollo/Saturn V Center, guests experience the historic launch of Apollo 8 at the Firing Room Theater, where three screens ignite with original news clips from the early years of NASA and ends with footage from Apollo 8. The theater is an authentic representation of the 1960s Firing Room, containing the actual launch consoles NASA used during Apollo. Visitors then experience a re-creation of the Apollo 11 moon landing in the Lunar Theater.
The centerpiece of the Apollo/Saturn V Center is a monstrous 363-foot long, fully restored Saturn V moon rocket, the most powerful rocket ever built and one of only three Saturn V rockets in existence.
The Apollo Treasures Gallery, also located in the Apollo/Saturn V Center, showcases treasures from the Apollo moon missions, including Apollo 14 Commander Alan Shepard’s spacesuit and Command Module, Kitty Hawk. The Apollo Treasures Gallery also features an extensive and rare collection of developmental spacesuits and other gear used by Apollo moon walkers on the lunar surface.
Admission tickets may be purchased at www.KennedySpaceCenter.com or by calling 877-313-2610.