| NASA |

50 Years After Apollo 11: Earthrise, A Giant Leap, and Mission Splashdown

Relive this historic moment this week in Houston.
Relive this historic moment this week in Houston.
Photo by NASA
Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

This week we continue our citywide celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing. There's tons to see and do, plus discover more events in the first two stories in our series (shown below). This week we've got massive celebrations at Discovery Green, stormtroopers at the Children's Museum, and events at MFAH. Then look to next week as Space Center Houston celebrates the historic splashdown with a '60s-themed party and Brazos pulls out the telescopes to watch the Delta Aquarids meteor showers.

Apollo 11 Events on July 20:

Thinking back to 1969, what sort of technology was even capable of broadcasting a message from the moon? Motorola Solutions helped make those first words happen and now Motorolans who worked during the moon landing, current employees and other radio enthusiasts are gathering at Motorola headquarters in Schaumburg, Illinois to share and broadcast their stories of engineering and the lunar landing. No worries if you can't make it; anybody with a shortwave radio receiver can listen in. The group will be operating on 3.830 MHz, 7.230 MHz, or 14.245 MHz (approximate frequencies). If you're a radio enthusiast or just looking to reflect on a landmark in time, you can use a shortwave radio and tune in. Listeners also can use web-based shortwave receivers by visiting websdr.org. Hear how history was made from those who helped make it happen.

Motorola broadcasts are scheduled for July 20 through July 21 from 8 a.m. Saturday to noon Sunday at 3.830 MHz, 7.230 MHz, or 14.245 MHz. For information, visit qsl.net/k9mot. Free.

We wrote about the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston's "Shooting the Moon" photography exhibit last week, and the museum has organized even more special events to celebrate the 50th anniversary occasion. Enjoy an afternoon of fun with Family Art-Making Activity for Members in the Beck Building (for those who have an MFAH membership). It's cool to just walk in, but why not RSVP in advance to make sure they've got enough paper, scissors, glue and moon-themed inspiration to jumpstart your interstellar creativity? Then hang around for the Summer Festival: Celebrating the Moon afterwards, which is free and open to all.

MFAH's Summer Festival schedule, 5-10 p.m.:

  • Nosh on moon pies and cake, and purchase yummies from Popston and Coffee-Q food carts or the Art of the Spirits Bar
  • Do art-making activities (silver moon surfaces, planetary paper marbling), design interstellar fashion, touch kinetic sand, and play Garden Quest III: The Legend of Stella or the arcade game Space Invaders
  • Visit the Out Space Storybook Station, courtesy of Harris County Public Library
  • Do cool stuff with NASA Experts
  • Look through telescopes with the Houston Astronomical Society
  • Watch television's The Jetsons, hear the Midnight Chamber Players perform "Night Music," and jam to tunes by Flower Graves
  • Tour the exhibit, "Shooting the Moon: Photographs from the Museum’s Collection 50 Years after Apollo 11," by paying the admission fee (free to $17)

Family Art-Making Activity for Members is scheduled for July 20 from 1-4 p.m. Saturday at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Beck Building, 5601 Main. For information, call 713-353-1599 or visit mfah.org. Free (members only).
Summer Festival: Celebrating the Moon is scheduled for July 20 from 5-10 p.m. Saturday at the MFAH, The Brown Foundation, Inc. Plaza, BBVA Roof Garden, and The Glassell School of Art, 5101 Montrose. For information, call 713-639-7300 or visit mfah.org. Free.

Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the moon landing with Discovery Green.
Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the moon landing with Discovery Green.
Photo by NASA

Space Shuttle Discovery was one of only five fully operational orbiters to ever be built. So it totally makes sense that Discovery Green is pulling out all the stops when it comes to A Giant Leap - Houston Celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Moon Landing. We're talking a full slate of activities, a paratrooper landing by the army's parachute demonstration team, an appearance by NASA astronaut Steve Bowen, commentary by the author of American Moonshot, and a screening of the new flick, Apollo 11, which just came out this year. Here are all the deets:

A Giant Leap at Discovery Green, 6-10 p.m.

  • Lone Star Flight Museum display with a B-17 air tank, replica of a bomb, T-6 Aileron, touch exhibit and more
  • NASA Destination trailer and NASA Exhibits (STEM engagement, NASA Robotics, moon rocks)
  • Microsoft STEM Exhibit
  • NASA Space Exploration Vehicle (SEV)
  • Discovery Domes with Dr. Pat Reiff from Rice University
  • Interactive elements (photo-ops of the JFK podium, a large moon, and an inflatable astronaut)
  • Rocket rides by Houston Party Rental
  • Bookstand with Douglas Brinkley, author of American Moonshot, courtesy of Brazos Bookstore
  • Houston Public Library exhibit
  • Flea by Night with curated vendor market

A Giant Leap at Discovery Green, timed activities:

  • 7-7:30 p.m., Paratrooper jump with the Golden Knights, weather permitting
  • 7:30-7:45 p.m., 1st Cavalry Division Band
  • 7:30-10 p.m., Spacy Casey roams throughout the park
  • 7:45-7:55 p.m., Announcements
  • 7:55-8:10 p.m., Douglas Brinkley and NASA astronaut commentary
  • 8-9:30 p.m., Musical performance by Joe Parani, astronaut by day and theremin musician by night
  • 8-10 p.m., Stargazing with Houston Astronomical Society, weather permitting
  • 8:18 p.m., Screening of Apollo 11
  • 9:51 p.m., Countdown to the exact 50 year anniversary of the moon landing
  • 9:56 p.m., Anniversary time of the moon landing
  • Closing, Fireworks display

A Giant Leap is scheduled for July 20 from 6-10 p.m. Saturday at Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney. For information, visit discoverygreen.com/moonlanding. Free.

Discovery Green is screening Apollo 11.
Discovery Green is screening Apollo 11.
Photo by Morris Malakoff, The CKP Group

Sugar Land Town Square is inviting the entire community to its 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing Celebration with a special pre-recorded video message from the International Space Station, the screening of a short documentary, a screening of the classic movie E.T., a moonwalk, and telescopes pointed toward space courtesy of the George Observatory.

Sugar Land Town Square's celebration is scheduled for July 20 from 7:30 to 10 p.m. Saturday at 15958 City Walk, Sugar Land. For information, call 281-242-2000 or visit sugarlandtownsquare.com. Free.

Well of course Brandon R. Brown, Ph.D. has a thing for space. Born in Houston and having earned his bachelors degree in physics from Rice University, Dr. Brown has gone on to study vortex dynamics in superconductors and now works as a physics professor at the University of San Francisco. He's also an avid writer and Brazos Bookstore is hosting a book signing event for his new book, The Apollo Chronicles: Engineering America’s First Moon Missions, which keeps the flavor of the 1960s, strips out all the technical mumbo jumbo, and follows the obsessive lives and work of NASA's hard-working engineers. The book includes new interviews and reflects back on the wonder at how the United States was able to meet JFK's challenge.

A book signing is scheduled for July 20 at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Brazos Bookstore, 2421 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-523-0701 or visit brazosbookstore.com. Free to attend; book price is $29.95.

Astronauts are released from Earth's gravitational pull when they travel through space but, here on terra firma, its pull can be daunting. Take the gravity challenge at Texas's newest boulder gym, Momentum Indoor Climbing Silver Street, a kaleidoscopic futuristic environ where your grip can make all the difference when it comes to hanging on for dear life. To celebrate the 50 year anniversary of humans landing on the moon, Momentum is hosting Anti-Gravity competitions with a $500 prize for the top finisher in a 64-person bracket.

Anti-Gravity competitions are scheduled for July 20 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4-7 p.m. Saturday with the final face-off at 8 p.m. at Momentum Indoor Climbing Silver Street, 1401 Silver Street. For information, call 832-433-7211 or visit momentumclimbing.com/silver-street. $5 to $25.

Can you earn Jedi status?
Can you earn Jedi status?
Photo by Henry Yau

Galaxies will collide over at the Children's Museum of Houston when it becomes one with the force during a Moon Landing Celebration with Star Wars Spin. Travel to a galaxy far, far away and meet Kylo Ren, Rey, Leia and Chewbacca characters (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.), as well as members of the 501 Legion. Then earn your own Jedi status during the light saber interactive workshop (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.) and watch actual footage of the CBS television broadcast that documented man's first step onto the moon (2:30-3:30 p.m.).

The Moon Landing Celebration with Star Wars Spin is scheduled for July 20 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at the Children's Museum of Houston, 1500 Binz. For information, call 713-522-1138 or visit cmhouston.org. Free to $12.

Springwoods Village in north Houston is celebrating the 50th anniversary with its Lunar Staycation. Several area hotels are offering rate specials for the two day shebang. The fun begins on July 20 with a space-themed Silent Disco from dusk to 10:30 p.m., SwitcHouse Plates & Pours is offering an "Out of This World Cosmo" cocktail, and the North Houston Astronomy Club is bringing telescopes for folks to gaze at the galaxy.
 Be sure to get your picture at the Fun Fab Photo Booth where the green screen will make it look like you're walking on the moon, view the stars in HMNS's inflatable Discovery Dome Planetarium, and watch curated shorts courtesy of Houston Cinema Arts Society and NASA. On July 21, guest speaker John J. Uri from NASA's Johnson Space Center will discuss lunar landings, while the Discovery Dome will be back for more space explorations.

The Lunar Staycation is scheduled for July 20 and July 21 in Springwoods Village. For information, visit springwoodsvillage.com/LunarStaycation. Prices vary.

Apollo 11 Celebrations Continuing After July 20:

Columbia floats with its precious cargo of astronauts and moon rocks.
Columbia floats with its precious cargo of astronauts and moon rocks.
Photo by NASA

The mission was to return safely from the moon and, until commander Neil Armstrong, lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin, and command module pilot Michael Collins actually returned to Earth, we were all holding our collective breaths in anticipation. Of course the astronauts weren't happy until their extended quarantine period was over, in accordance with the Extra-Terrestrial Exposure Law, and were rewarded with ticker-tape parades in New York and Chicago with six million fans in attendance. Space Center Houston pays tribute to this exciting return with its Apollo 11 Mission Splashdown Party, a 1960s themed evening bash with live music by Beatles tribute band The Fab 5 against a backdrop of Apollo-era artifacts, interactive exhibits and activities. Food and drink will be available for purchase.

Apollo 11 Mission Splashdown Party is scheduled for July 24 from 6-10 p.m. Wednesday at Space Center Houston, 1601 NASA Parkway. For information, call 281-244-2100 or visit spacecenter.org. $24.95 to $29.95 (non-member price).

Brazos Bookstore has ushered us through this monthlong celebration of Apollo with cool and nerdy science books, and they're continuing the tradition by hosting a Delta Aquarids Pajama Party to coincide with the meteor shower's crossing the Northern Hemisphere. Cohosted by Brazos with the Houston Astronomical Society, enjoy snacks and crafts and then view the shower and other celestial objects through telescopes.

The Delta Aquarids Pajama Party is scheduled for July 25 at 7 p.m. Thursday at Brazos Bookstore, 2421 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-523-0701 or visit brazosbookstore.com. Free.

Earthrise was directed by Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee and includes archival footage from NASA, CBS and the Library of Congress.
Earthrise was directed by Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee and includes archival footage from NASA, CBS and the Library of Congress.
Film still by Go Project Films

Explore the wonders of the moon with the classic planetarium show, Dark Side of the Moon, and a screening of the documentary, Earthrise, The Image that Shared Our World, about the first humans to escape Earth's orbit in 1968. What the Apollo 8 crew (Frank Borman, Bill Anders and James Lovell) witnessed was marvelous, and our enthusiasm and appreciation should never wane. Rounding out the evening are photo ops under the enormous moon sculpture, activities and the chance to experience VR Destination: Moon.

Lunar activities are scheduled for July 26 at 7 p.m. Friday at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, Burke Baker Planetarium, 5555 Hermann Park Drive. For information, call 713-639-4629 or visit hmns.org. $16 to $25.

Celebrate television's Lost in Space and Space Ghost, the wisdom of Neil deGrasse Tyson and Carl Sagan, and favorite sci-fi themes and Heinlein stories when Texas Art Asylum hosts "Cosmic Perspective — an art show about space!" Works of art will be both 2D and 3D and local artists will receive 70 percent of the sales price, but don't expect anything Star Wars as that franchise has its own show.

"Cosmic Perspective" is scheduled for July 27 through July 28 at 2-8 p.m. Saturday and 2-5 p.m. Sunday at Texas Art Asylum, 1719 Live Oak. For information, visit facebook.com/events/317873335528234. Free.

NASA's Destination Station touches down at Orange Avenue when the Houston Dynamo celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing while battling the Seattle Sounders FC in Space City Night presented by Pepsi Zero Sugar. Stop by NASA's pop-up to meet an astronaut and experience other out-of-this-world surprises.

Space City Night is scheduled for July 27 at 7 p.m. Saturday at BBVA Stadium, 2200 Texas. For information, call 713-276-4625 or visit houstondynamo.com. $15 to $184.

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston's Mixed Media celebrates Space City with an appearance by Texas rapper and scene icon Bun B with Doc Loc and the Swangers, along with sets by DJ Sun and Kay Illah. As with all Mixed Media events, see and be seen against the backdrop of art exhibits: "Shooting the Moon" has iconic moon and space travel images while "The Visitors" is an immersive eight-channel video that dominates the gallery space. Nosh on yummies from Moon Rooster and Popston, get free pics with Smilebooth, get crafty with lunar-themed art-making activities and, for the 21 and up crowd, purchase drinks by credit card at the bar.

Mixed Media is scheduled for August 2 from 8 p.m. to midnight Friday at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Audrey Jones Beck Building, 5601 Main. For information, call 713-639-7300 or visit mfah.org/mixedmedia. $22 to $25.

The Friendswood community has all sorts of 50th Anniversary Apollo events, under its umbrella of Friendswood Splashdown Celebration.

  • July 18 at 7 p.m. Thursday, The Space Suit!, Friendswood Public Library
  • July 22 at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Ask an Astronaut!, Friendswood Public Library
  • July 23 at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Movie Night! Showing of the Apollo 11 documentary, Friendswood Public Library
  • July 24 at 7 p.m. Wednesday, 50th Apollo 11 Splashdown Party, Brasserie 1895
  • July 25 at 7 p.m. Thursday, Apollo 11 Flight Control - Apollo 11 Recovery, Friendswood Public Library
  • July 27 at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Kids Can Build a Rocket and Watch a Launch, Stevenson Park
  • July 27 at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Friendswood Splashdown Celebration, Stevenson Park
  • July 27 at 4 p.m. Saturday, Car Show - 1969 Era or Earlier

For more information about Friendswood's Splashdown Celebration, visit facebook.com/pg/Fwd50thApollo11/events.

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.