In 1962, President John F. Kennedy told the world why it was so important to go to the moon. This fueled excitement that made his vision a reality. Less than 10 years later, astronaut Neil Armstrong delivered his most famous words “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” that was heard around the world.
Although the chances are very slim that any of us will land on the moon anytime soon, there are many places you should visit that worked in placing a man on the moon in 1969.
The U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama:
At the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, a team of engineers created the Saturn 5 rocket that propelled the crew of the Apollo II toward the moon.
When you visit the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, you can explore so many amazing exhibits including the “Space Craze” focusing on the fascination of space through the lens of pop culture and Apollo: “When We Went To The Moon”.
This exhibit runs until December 2019. You can view a Saturn 5 rocket vehicle which is only one of three on public display. You can join a bus tour for limited access to the Marshall Space Flight Center.
The Meteor Crater in Flagstaff, Arizona:
Astronauts Armstrong, Aldrin, and, Collins were trained in Flagstaff using the desert to simulate walking on the moon’s barren surface.
The U.S. Geological Survey Branch of Astrogeology prepared them for their lunar exploration at various locations including the Meteor Crater which is one of the most perfectly preserved craters on this planet.
Today, the Meteor Crater Visitor Center offers a 4-D immersive ride “Collision Experience” which is like an actual Apollo test capsule giving you breathtaking tours around the rim of the actual crater.
The Lowell Observatory helped NASA map the moon for the Apollo program and now has a special “Lunar Legacy” exhibit providing daytime and nighttime telescope views. They offered a special day of events on July 20, 2019, in honor of the moon landing anniversary.
The Goddard Space Flight Center in Green belt, Maryland:
In 1969, the Goddard Space Flight Center was responsible for tracking and communications for the Apollo II mission. To this day, it’s still a major NASA research laboratory. You can enjoy interactive exhibits and a rocket garden filled with vehicles, rockets, and flight hardware along with an Apollo Spacecraft Capsule.
The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, near Washington D.C., is home to several artifacts from the Apollo II mission including Collins’ typed mission checklist, an inflight exerciser, and Neil Armstrong’s Omega Speedmaster watch.
His spacesuit went on display in July for the first time in 13 years. Eventually, the suit will be a feature at the “Destination Moon”, a totally re-imagined permanent gallery which is scheduled to open in 2022.
The Kennedy Space Center in Florida:
All Apollo missions launched from the Kennedy Space Center and remains an active launch site. The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is home to historic spacecraft and memorabilia exhibits along with 2 IMAX movies.
There are bus tours that visit mission-critical areas of the Kennedy Space Center and the Apollo/Saturn V Center which is home to a complete Saturn V rocket along with a slab of moon rock that you can actually touch.
If you visit during a scheduled launch, you will be able to purchase a special viewing package that gives you a clear view of liftoff, just a few miles from the launchpad.
Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas:
“Houston, Tranquility Baser here – The Eagle has landed”. When Neil Armstrong said these famous words, he was talking to the NASA team in the Mission Control Center at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center.
It’s at this center that every aspect of the Apollo II mission was monitored from launching at Cape Canaveral to splashdown in the Pacific Ocean. The fully restored control center is open for tours through the official visitor’s center, Space Center Houston.
You can view the astronaut training facilities, the largest collection of moon rocks, and lunar samples that are on public display. You will see an array of spacecraft including an Apollo module, a Saturn V rocket, and a shuttle replica of Independence mounted on top of the original NASA 905 shuttle carrier aircraft.
On July 20, Walk on the Moon and Phillip Phillips performed a special Apollo 50th Live event.