Purdue to celebrate 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 moon landing

“That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind,” echoed from millions of television sets in the late evening of July 20, 1969, as Purdue alumnus Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the moon.

Purdue, known as the “Cradle of Astronauts,” will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing with a series of events July 18-20, including a presentation by Apollo 11’s flight director, showings of a new Armstrong documentary, children’s activities and various panels featuring space authors and others who knew Armstrong or worked on the Apollo 11 mission. There also will be a moment of remembrance at 4:17 p.m. to mark the exact time of the lunar landing.

Fifty years ago, Armstrong, along with command module pilot Buzz Aldrin, spent several hours walking on the lunar surface, collecting rocks and photographing the historic event. Armstrong’s historic moment is the theme for Purdue’s Giant Leaps Sesquicentennial Campaign. The 150th celebration of Purdue will conclude with an astronaut reunion at Homecoming on Oct. 12.

Activities for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing start on July 18. Apollo 11 flight director Gene Kranz presents “Go or No-Go: The Untold Story of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing.”

On July 19, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., is an open house for the special exhibition “Apollo in the Archives: Selection from the Neil A. Armstrong Papers.” The exhibition can be accessed through Humanities, Social Sciences and Education Library in Stewart Center. The exhibition includes key Apollo 11 mission documents and artifacts from Armstrong’s personal papers. Open house activities for kids of all ages will include exhibition scavenger hunts and viewing of Apollo 11 World Tour rare film clips. Popcorn and light refreshments will be provided. More information about the exhibition is available here.

Festivities continue July 20 with a variety of events including:

* 9 a.m. to noon, “Apollo in the Archives: Selection from the Neil A. Armstrong Papers” can be accessed through Humanities, Social Sciences and Education Library in Stewart Center.

* 10-11:45 a.m., Stewart Center’s Loeb Playhouse, showing of “ARMSTRONG” documentary. This new documentary film features home videos shot by Armstrong and unseen footage from NASA.

* Noon to 1 p.m. Lobby of Loeb Playhouse in Stewart Center. Space author meet and greet. Featuring George Leopold, author of “Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom;” John Norberg, co-author of “Spacewalker;” and Susan Gunderson, co-author of “Becoming a Spacewalker.” Books will be available on site for purchase.

* Noon to 4 p.m. Memorial Mall just west of Stewart Center. Food station. Round Barn Creamery will be providing a special Apollo 50 anniversary ice cream for purchase. The Daily Bite food truck also will be available until 3 p.m.

* Noon to 4 p.m. Purdue Mall fountain and Kirk Plaza, which is near the Neil Armstrong statue outside Neil Armstrong Hall, K-12 STEM activities. Become a lunar scientist and journey to the moon. Look up close at lunar samples collected by Apollo astronauts, make your own impact craters on the surface of the moon, and explore the Apollo 11 command module in augmented reality. You can also test your knowledge of the Earth-moon system by creating scale models and learn about the history and future of lunar science and exploration. How did Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins get to the moon 50 years ago? Learn about the incredible technology that enabled humans to reach for the stars and children can build their own rockets. K-12 students can learn about the different roles that communication plays in exploration and discovery with three hands-on activities that will sharpen their own communication skills. Students will also get a chance to work with a science communication expert to record and star in their own STEM COM video. Make sure to visit the moon rock and Mars meteorite display inside Neil Armstrong Hall. Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences; the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics; and the Brian Lamb School of Communication.

* 1-2:30 p.m., Stewart Center’s Loeb Playhouse, “Past, Present, Future NASA Flight Director Panel.” This event is free, but a ticket is required. Featuring alumni panelists: Allison Bolinger (future), Marcos Flores (future), Gary Horlacher (present), and Wayne Hale (past). Moderated by past flight director Tomas Gonzalez-Torres.

* 4-4:30 p.m. Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering. Lunar Module Landing Celebration. More details to come.

* 5-6:30 p.m. Stewart Center’s Loeb Playhouse, “Industry’s Crucial Role in the Apollo 11 Mission.” This event is free, but a ticket is required. Panel featuring a few Purdue alums who worked behind the scenes to make the Apollo 11 mission possible including Ron Larsen (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center), Tim Harmon (Boeing Company’s Rocketdyne Division), and Chesterfield (Chet) Janes (IBM Mechanical Systems Manager).

* 7-8:45 p.m., Stewart Center’s Loeb Playhouse, second showing of “ARMSTRONG” documentary.

Parking is available in the Northwestern Street (PGNW) garage, and a campus map is available here.

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