HUTCHINSON — Across the United States, the nation will be celebrating one of its most significant science and engineering accomplishments of the 20th century this summer — the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.
Kansans don’t have to travel far, however, to get in touch with the historic journey of Michael Collins, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong on Apollo 11. It’s all within reach at the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson.
“The Cosmosphere has the ability to talk about the space race and the moon landing like nowhere else, and it’s a great opportunity for our community and the state of Kansas,” said Jim Remar, president and chief executive of the Cosmosphere. “It’s going to be an exciting summer for us.”
The Smithsonian-affiliated museum and education center expects the emphasis on the moon landing to help surpass last year’s attendance of 81,288.
Through artifacts on display daily and special events throughout the spring and summer, here are 18 ways to connect you with both man’s small step and the giant leap for mankind.
You’ll find these any day at the Hall of Space Museum:
• Collins’ training suit for the flight.
• A moon rock collected and returned to earth aboard Apollo 11.
• A camera magazine that flew on the mission, signed by Aldrin.
• Apollo 11 Saturn V F-1 Engine components: find the flow thrust chamber on the main level and the turbopump and LOX Dome in the Apollo Gallery.
• Saturn V F-1 Engine: located outside on the south side of the Cosmosphere Building
• An engineering model of the Apollo lunar module ascent State.
• The White Room: one of the three rooms used for the launch of Apollo Missions. The other two are at the Johnson Space Center in Houston and the Kenney Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla.
• Replicas of the Apollo Lunar Module and Lunar Rover vehicle.
• Saturn V rocket: on the ceiling of the Apollo Gallery. This is a 1/10-scale model.
• Docking Mechanism for Apollo missions, allowing the command module to dock with the lunar module on trips to the moon.
• Crawler-Transporter Shoe: real hardware from the vehicle used to transport spacecraft from NASA’s assembly building to the launch pad.
• An exhibit on the moon landing is opening this month in the Cosmosphere rotunda.
• "Apollo Redux," an exhibit funded by a NASA grant in the “Our Universe Theater” area, featuring refurbished mission control consoles from Johnson Space Center — the same ones which helped Apollo 11 get to the moon. It highlights mission control and engineering feats that resulted in the moon landing. It will include oral histories from the mission control scientists who worked behind the controls. It will also feature different kinds of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers available through NASA.
• “Apollo 11: First Steps Edition,” a condensed 45-minute documentary version of the “Apollo 11” film in theatrical release this spring will show throughout the summer, opening May 20.
• An innovator’s table in the lobby: Children can color a moon boot print and write what they’d say as the first person on the moon. Adults can write reminisces of where they were when Aldrin and Armstrong landed on the moon.
Week of the moon landing anniversary
• July 18, 9 a.m.: the monthly Coffee at the Cosmosphere will feature “We Chose to Go to the Moon,” featuring a musical performance from Opera Kansas and a presentation by museum curator Shannon Whetzel.
• July 20: 10 am-1 p.m.: The monthly family event, “Space Out Saturday” will provide a history of Apollo 11 training.
• July 20: 6 p.m.: “Landing on the Lawn,” a free event will include hands-on moon and space-themed activities from local organizations, including Hutchinson Community College and Hutch Recreation Commission, with live science demonstrations from Cosmosphere science educators. After dark, there will be a showing of the 1969 CBS footage of the Moon landing, followed by the documentary “In the Shadow of the Moon.” Activities also include viewings of the moon and planets through a 16-inch telescope. The event is free.