first_imgStay on target Fifty years ago, on July 20, 1969, millions of people from around the world were glued to a television screen as they watched astronaut Neil Armstrong take a “giant leap for mankind” on the moon. An estimated 500 million people watched the historic moon landing, the largest television audience for a live broadcast at that time.And today, millions flocked to moon-themed anniversary events happening around the world. But perhaps no American city is in a more celebratory mood and more ready to party (like it’s 1969), than the city most associated with the moon landing — Houston, Texas. The city is home to the country’s human spaceflight program, where astronauts have lived and trained since 1961.Attendees watch as the Golden Knights, the US Army official aerial parachute demo team, perform during the Apollo 11 50th anniversary celebration at Space Center Houston. (Photo Credit: Loren Elliott / AFP / Getty Images)Houstonians would also remind visitors that “Houston” was the first word uttered on the lunar surface (“Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”), and of course “Houston” meant the mission control center at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.One of the places-to-be for the biggest moon celebration of the year was Space Center Houston, the official visitors center of Johnson Space Center. The museum had a day planned full of special activities for space fans, from panels discussions with Apollo-era flight controllers to pop-up STEM labs that demonstrate the science from the Apollo program. Visitors could even hit a golf ball on a fake lunar surface, just like Alan Shepard during his Apollo 14 mission.Space Center Houston held pop-up STEM and Apollo 11 exhibits as part of the museum’s special program to celebrate the moon landing anniversary. (Photo Credit: Loren Elliott / AFP / Getty Images)“What an amazing day,” director of the Johnson Space Center, Mark Geyer, said Saturday. “[The Apollo 11 moon landing] changed the world and it changed my life.”The highlights of Space Center Houston’s festivities include tram tours to NASA’s restored Apollo Mission Control Center, an outdoor concerts, and a live countdown with fireworks to Armstrong’s first steps on the moon.An attendee hits a golf ball on a fake lunar surface, just like Alan Shepard during his Apollo 14 mission, at an interactive exhibit at Space Center Houston. (Photo Credit: Loren Elliott/ AFP / Getty Images)People also flocked to many celebrations in Washington, DC. A show celebrating 50 years since Apollo 11  dazzled crowds on the National Mall Friday night by projecting a true-to-size, 363-foot-tall Saturn V rocket onto the Washington Monument. When the rockets was shown firing its engines and launching, the cheered applauded.The event was conceived and commissioned by the National Air and Space Museum and includes recreations and archival footage.The 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing is celebrated in a show projected on the Washington Monument in Washington, DC. (Photo Credit: Bill Ingalls / NASA / Getty Images)In Hunstville, Alabama, home to NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch with special events through 2019, including the special exhibit, “Apollo: When We Went to the Moon. The center also also hosted a variety of events through anniversary week, culminating in a Moon Landing Concert Saturday.But the U.S. wasn’t the only country commemorating the event that’s considered one of mankind’s most stunning achievements.In Berlin, Germany, European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst attended an event at the Planetarium Berlin.In Berlin @Astro_Alex joined #Apollo50th celebrations at @PlanetariumBER #MissionMoonfest— ESA (@esa) July 20, 2019The Science Museum in London, England is celebrating Apollo 11 with special events throughout the summer, including showings of Apollo 11: First Steps Edition on one of Europe’s biggest cinema screens, and Astronights sleepovers for budding, young astronauts.The Parkes Radio telescope in Australia, one of three tracking stations that received the moon landing broadcast, also commemorated the incredible events of July 20, 1969, also commemorated the moon landing.Our Chief Executive @DrLarryMarshall kicked off proceedings on this special night at the Dish. Larry was 7 years old, sitting on his classroom floor when the #Apollo11 astronauts landed on the Moon. As he says, “Science today can inspire the next generation.” #Apollo50Aus ^KC— CSIRO (@CSIROnews) July 20, 2019But perhaps, the most poignant celebration was the one from hundreds of miles above earth at the International Space Station, where astronauts Christina Koch, Nick Hague, and Commander Alexey Ovchinin welcomed new Expedition 60 members and crewmates Drew Morgan, Alexander Skvortsov, and Luca Parmitano.“It was an incredible honor to the celebrate the #Apollo50th anniversary of the historic landing with my crewmates,” Koch tweeted from the Space Station “Their passion and drive for space exploration paved the way for the engineering marvel to which I call home.”It was an incredible honor to celebrate the #Apollo50th anniversary of the historic lunar landing with my crewmates on @Space_Station yesterday. Their passion and drive for space exploration paved the way for the engineering marvel to which I call home.— Christina H Koch (@Astro_Christina) July 21, 2019Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the Moon, and the Apollo 11 lunar module pilot and Command Module Pilot Michael Collins, attended an event at the White House Friday to celebrate the mission.“[Fifty] years ago history was made when three American astronauts landed on the moon,” Vice President Mike Pence, who is chairman of the national space council, tweeted on Friday.50 years ago history was made when three American astronauts landed on the moon! It was great joining President @realDonaldTrump, @FLOTUS, @JimBridenstine, @TheRealBuzz & Michael Collins today to commemorate this special day in our nation’s history! #Apollo50th— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) July 19, 2019In his meeting with President Trump, however, Aldrin expressed his disappointment with the status of the U.S. space program.“Frankly, I’m a little disappointed in the last 10 to 15 years,” he told the president during an Oval Office press conference with Collins. “We were able to achieve so much early. Now we have the number one rocket right now in the U.S., and we have the number one spacecraft, and they cannot get into lunar orbit with significant maneuvering capability. And that’s a great disappointment to me.”On this historic #Apollo50th anniversary occasion, we’ve achieved a critical milestone. The @NASA_Orion crew vehicle for the #Artemis 1 mission is complete and ready to begin preps for its historic first flight, says @VP PenceWatch:— NASA (@NASA) July 20, 2019But during the anniversary events at Houston, officials expressed optimism in the future of NASA missions.The agency hopes to stay on schedule for Moon 2024, for example, and send the first woman and the next man back to the lunar surface.“In roughly 3 years, we will have astronauts back at the moon in the region of the moon, this time, women and men,” Geyer said.Holly Ridings, the first female NASA chief flight director, agrees. At a media event for the restored Apollo Mission Control Center on Saturday, she added:  “The other piece of that is to get back to the moon but do it sustainably. The 2024, 2028 timeframe is when we want to be able to stay in the moon and use that as a jumping off point to get to Mars. And I think we can do it.”More on Inside NASA’s Restored Apollo Mission Control CenterWatch: Video Simulates Neil Armstrong’s View During Moon LandingHere’s the Speech Nixon Would Have Given If Apollo 11 Failed Butter Sculptures Celebrate Apollo 11 AstronautsApollo 11 Tapes Sold For $1.82M at Sotheby’s Auction last_img read more