Downey set to celebrate 50th anniversary of moon landing

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DOWNEY - The Columbia Memorial Space Center, located on the site where all of the Apollo spacecraft that took astronauts to the moon were designed and built, has announced a summer-long series of programs and events celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing.

The series includes an exhibit of rare artifacts and opportunities to interact with some of the people who worked to put us on the moon 50 years ago.

On July 20 -- 50 years to the day that astronauts first landed on the moon -- the space center is hosting an all-day celebration with free admission.

The celebration series begins this Saturday, July 13, with the opening of a one-of-a-kind Apollo 11 exhibit that includes never-before-seen artifacts of the space program.

This exhibit features the stories of some of the thousands who worked on the historic mission here in Southern California 50 years ago and is supported by a gift from Aerojet Rocketdyne, the same Los Angeles-based company that made all of the rocket engines that set astronauts to the moon and brought them safely back home.

On Friday, July 19, join NASA as the Space Center is featured in their national broadcast on NASA TV and Discovery Science.

The Space Center is proud to be the West Coast hub of NASA’s Apollo commemorations. All day, special activities will be offered related to the big lunar anniversary.

On Saturday, July 20, the actual day that astronauts landed on the moon in 1969, the week of Apollo activities reaches a climax. The Space Center invites everyone to visit for free and dress in their best outfit from 1969. Activities, performances and screenings of the moon landing will be happening throughout the day.


To excite as many people as possible about this historic achievement, the Space Center also is leading a group of Southern California partners in its #OneGiantLeap initiative, asking everyone to record and share their own leap on July 20, just like Neil Armstrong did on the moon.

Also on July 20, the Space Center will host a special community engagement day. The event will include Challenger Center’s Next Giant Leap activities with support from Raytheon.

Students will have the opportunity to learn about the seven phases of lunar exploration and engage in hands-on activities, like building and launching paper rockets or programming a rover to navigate and conduct experiments on the surface of the Moon.

A Raytheon STEM professional will also be present to talk to students about future careers in STEM. Karen Casey is the Mission Systems Engineer for Raytheon Intelligence, Information and Services (IIS). She supports mission solutions within the space ground systems market.

More information about all of these programs and events can be found at columbiaspacescience.org or through the Space Center’s social media platforms at @columbiaspace.

Many of these programs will feature an appearance by an engineer or professional who worked on the Apollo program, giving first-hand accounts of what it was like to take the US to the moon.

To further put a spotlight on the stories of the Southern Californians who created Apollo, on July 17, 19 and 20, you’re invited to enjoy a series of original plays written and produced for the Space Center by Los Angeles theater company Chalk Rep performed around the Space Center.

Southern California is the home of Apollo, with Downey being the site of where all of the spaceships that went to the moon were built.

All of these events and programs are part of the Space Center’s year-long celebration of Apollo that includes a monthly historic speaker series and a partnership with the Los Angeles Public Library, which since February, has been bringing activities, Apollo artifacts and retired Apollo engineers to many of the system’s 73 branches. Be sure to check the Space Center website and LAPL site for more information.

The Apollo space program lasted from 1961 – 1975, resulting in 12 humans walking on the moon. The Apollo 11 mission included the first moon landing, occurring on July 20, 1969.

The Space Center is a space museum and hands-on STEM learning center located on the site of the former NASA-North American Rockwell Space and Information Systems Division headquarters where all of the Apollo spacecraft and, later, all of the Space Shuttles were designed and built.

The museum serves as the US memorial to the astronauts of the Space Shuttle Columbia mission STS-107.

NewsStaff Report