Apollo 11 50th anniversary

For the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, space enthusiasts are turning the Washington Monument into a life-size image of a Saturn V rocket, the Rose Bowl Stadium into the setting for an immersive moon voyage, and, if all goes as planned, Times Square into a makeshift Tranquility Base.

In a hundred different ways this week, people nationwide celebrated the moon voyage that climaxed on July 20, 1969, when Apollo astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed and walked on another world. Festivities ranged from reunions of Apollo-era NASA employees to lunar-themed $1,000-a-ticket galas. There are museum exhibits, documentary showings, television specials, scholarly lectures, art exhibitions and auctions of rare space memorabilia.

There was an astronaut-themed pub crawl in Cocoa Beach, Fla., the unveiling of a statue of Neil Armstrong in Wapakoneta, Ohio, and an Apollo “Splashdown 50 Celebration” in Alameda, Calif.  Festivities are set to peak on Saturday with a re-creation of the moon landing at the Hayden Planetarium of the American Museum of Natural History in New York and a musical tribute by the National Symphony Orchestra at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C

Amid so many events, Apollo 9 astronaut Russell “Rusty” Schweickart, now 84, found a moment for reflection.

“To me, the real importance of this anniversary is the overall reality of human beings first stepping off planet Earth into the cosmos; not in imagination, not via a robotic spacecraft, but human beings moving through the birth canal of mother Earth and into the universe,” Mr.  Schweickart said. “That is a historic moment that will be remembered for a thousand years.”

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