Destination: Moon

Nearly 50 years after NASA’s first moon landing, the Apollo 11 command module Columbia is taking another journey.


Columbia—the only portion of the historic spacecraft to complete the first mission to land a man on the moon and safely return him to Earth—will leave the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum for the first time for the traveling exhibition “Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission.”

The exhibition’s two-year national tour will celebrate the approaching 50th anniversary of the mission and explore the birth and development of the American space program and the space race. Here’s a look back at that historic and heart-stopping journey.

Fisheye lens view of rocket launch

The huge, 363-feet tall Saturn V rocket launches the Apollo 11 mission from Launch Complex 39A at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center on July 16, 1969. (NASA photo via EPA)

Earth rising over the moon's horizon

This view from the Apollo 11 spacecraft shows Earth rising above the moon’s horizon. (NASA photo)

module suspended in space above moon's surface

The Apollo 11 lunar module ascent stage, with Armstrong and Aldrin aboard, is photographed from the Command and Service Module during rendezvous in lunar orbit on July 21, 1969. The lunar module was making its docking approach to the CSM. Collins remained with the CSM in lunar orbit while the other two crewmen explored the moon’s surface. (NASA photo)

Aldrin on lunar surface

Astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin became the second man to walk on the lunar surface after he and fellow Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong successfully landed the lunar module on July 20, 1969. (NASA photo via Getty Images)

Aldrin on the surface of the moon

Buzz Aldrin stands beside a solar wind experiment next to the lunar module after he and Neil Armstrong became the first men to land on the moon’s surface. (NASA photo via Reuters)

Aldrin next to flag on moon's surface

Aldrin poses for a photograph beside the United States flag after the historic landing on July 20, 1969. (NASA photo)

Black and white photo of rapt crowd

An estimated 10,000 people gathered to watch giant screens in New York’s Central Park and cheer as Neil Armstrong took man’s first step on the moon on July 20, 1969. (AP photo)

Astronauts talkj to Nixon through capsule hatch

President Richard Nixon welcomes the Apollo 11 astronauts back to Earth aboard the USS Hornet, prime recovery ship for the historic Apollo 11 lunar landing mission. Already confined to the Mobile Quarantine Facility are, left to right: Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin. (NASA photo)

Command module Columbia

Charred and battered from the forces of atmospheric reentry, the Apollo 11 command module Columbia has been at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. since the museum’s 1976 opening. For the next two years, Columbia will travel 8,000 miles and visit four museums, arriving at the last in time to mark the 50th anniversary of the first lunar landing in 2019. (Photo by Eric Long / National Air and Space Museum)


Posted: 7 March 2017
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