Festivities to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing began Tuesday, but Thursday marks the kickoff of a three-day festival on the National Mall.
The Apollo 50 Festival runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday and Friday, with late-night events on Saturday. You'll find hands-on exhibits and activities, costumed characters and performances. Tents by NASA, Boeing, Raytheon, the LEGO group and "Ready, Jet, Go!" will line the Mall between 4th and 7th streets.
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Speakers at the event include MythBusters' Adam Savage, astronauts from the International Space Station, NASA scientists and engineers and more.
Also Thursday, there will be a museum program called "One Giant Leap: Space Diplomacy Past, Present, Future" will feature a panel with Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins; Ellen Stofan, John and Adrienne Mars Director of the National Air and Space Museum; and U.S. Science Envoy for Space Charles Bolden. The event is free but you'll need tickets.
Friday will be another family-geared day, with activities on the Mall again from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and a "Discover the Moon" program from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The program will include educational activities allowing visitors to interact one-on-one with museum scientists and learn about lunar exploration, research and missions. High-resolution images from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter will be on display as well.
The program also will allow visitors to start near the lunar module in the Milestones of Flight Hall and "retrace" the route the astronauts walked on the moon.
Finally, on Saturday, the museum will host a free late-night celebration from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. called "The Eagle Has Landed." The program includes astronaut costume designing, trivia, scavenger hunts, science demonstrations, stargazing at the observatory and more.
There will be a countdown at 10:56 p.m. to the exact time Neil Armstrong first stepped onto the moon.
Saturn V Rocket Projected onto Washington Monument
Also a part of the official five-day festival is the museum's projection of a Saturn V rocket on the side of the Washington Monument, which began Tuesday and is happening nightly through Saturday.
Visitors who go on the Friday or Saturday will get the chance to see the "Apollo 50: Go for the Moon" show, which will use projection and archival footage to recreate the actual rocket launch.
Armstrong's Spacesuit on Display
On Tuesday, the Smithsonian put Neil Armstrong's Apollo 11 spacesuit on display for the first time in 13 years. A Kickstarter campaign in 2015 garnered thousands of donations to conserve the suit, which is displayed in a state-of-the-art case designed to protect it, according to a news release from the Smithsonian.
The suit is near the 1903 Wright Flyer in the Air and Space Museum until the "Destination Moon" exhibit is completed in 2022.