Forty-five years ago today, Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to set foot on another world. Armstrong’s “one small step … one giant leap” on the dusty lunar surface July 20, 1969, still stirs hearts.
On Monday, NASA will honour Armstrong, who died in 2012, with a renaming ceremony of the historic Operations and Checkout Building at Cape Canaveral, Fla., the launch site. Both Aldrin and Michael Collins, the Apollo 11 command module pilot who orbited the moon, will be there.
“For those who may ask what they can do to honour Neil, we have a simple request,” the Armstrong family said in a statement after his death. “Honour his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.”
Some other easy ways to get swept up in moon fever:
- Follow along on Twitter as the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum recreates, in 140 characters or less per tweet, the eight-day flight, which began with the Saturn V liftoff on July 16, 1969, and ended with a Pacific spashdown on July 24, 1969
- Tune in to NASA TV via cable, satellite or computer late Sunday night. The space agency will broadcast restored footage of Armstrong and Aldrin’s lunar footsteps, beginning at 10:39 p.m. EDT, the exact time Armstrong opened the Eagle’s hatch 45 years ago. Take pleasure in knowing this is the first major Apollo 11 anniversary in which the events fall on the same day of the week as they did in 1969.
- Check out your local science museum or planetarium for anniversary events. The Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City, for example, has a bevy of astronauts on tap as part of its space and science festival. Aldrin is the featured speaker Friday. The five-day festival runs through Sunday.
- Slooh Observatory will broadcast high-definition images of the lunar surface Sunday night, along with a panel discussion, beginning at 8:30 P.M. EDT.
- Pull out the popcorn and relive NASA’s early glory days through documentaries and films. Some choices: “The Right Stuff” from 1983, “For All Mankind” documentary from 1989, “Apollo 13” from 1995, “From the Earth to the Moon” TV miniseries from 1998, and “The Dish” from 2000, certainly the funniest and sweetest as it chronicles Australia’s key role in the moon landing.
The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex will have an appearance today by former astronaut Bruce McCandless, who served as the Mission Control capsule communicator, or capcom, in Houston as Armstrong and Aldrin walked on the moon. It’s his voice that the moonwalkers heard. McCandless later went on to his own fame as the free-flying, untethered spaceman who tested NASA’s manned manoeuvring unit, or jetpack, during a shuttle flight in 1984.
The USS Hornet Museum in Alameda, Calif.,, also has nabbed Aldrin for its 45th anniversary festivities — Splashdown 45 — next Saturday, July 26. The aircraft carrier recovered the Apollo 11 crew and capsule, the Columbia, from the Pacific following splashdown. President Richard Nixon was on board to welcome Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins home.