11 Reasons to Celebrate Apollo 11 at Space Center Houston

In July 1969, millions of people across the globe watched in awe as Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed their Lunar Module on the Moon’s Sea of Tranquility.  Stepping onto the lunar surface, Armstrong gave perhaps one of history’s most famous quotes; “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” The Apollo Program, with its 6 successful lunar landings, is often cited as the greatest technological achievement in human history. Visitors are invited to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Lunar Landing and all of NASA’s Apollo era missions up close and personal at Space Center Houston. Explore and discover unique artifacts like no place on Earth. Really.

1.) Presidential Podium–“We Choose to Go to the Moon”

In a famous speech at Rice University on Sept. 12 1962, behind this very podium, President John. F Kennedy boldly stated his challenge to put a man on the Moon by the end of the decade. The mission was a success with Apollo 11, and this unique piece of history can be viewed on permanent display featured as part of Space Center Houston’s “On Human Destiny” film presentation.

2.)  Historic Mission Control– “Houston, the Eagle Has Landed”

Space Center Houston’s world famous tram tour travels behind the scenes of the Johnson Space Center where guests can view historic Mission Control. The support provided by the Apollo Mission Control Center to the first manned landing on the surface of the moon was critical to the success of the mission. It exercised full mission control of the flight of Apollo 11 from the time of liftoff from Launch Complex 39 at the Kennedy Space Center to the time of splashdown in the Pacific. The technical management of all areas of vehicle systems of Apollo 11 including flight dynamics, life systems, flight crew activities, recovery support, and ground operations were handled here.


The massive Saturn V Rocket is deemed the most powerful rocket ever built and operated. Its design played a major role in successfully transporting and landing American astronauts on the Moon during Apollo missions. One of only 3 left in existence, the newly refurbished Rocket is now on display inside the Saturn V buiding complex at Space Center Houston.

4.)  Moon Rock Vault- “Sample the Moon”

The world’s largest display of Moon rocks are housed in the Lunar Vault where guests can touch a 3.8 billion-year-old piece of the Moon brought back to the Earth by Apollo era astronauts. This massive collection of Moon samples have never been exposed to the Earth’s atmosphere since being collected from the lunar surface, and are kept in a total Nitrogen gas environment.

5.)  Astronaut Suit Gallery-“The Moon Suits You”

The Astronaut Gallery showcases space suits from every era of NASA’s manned space exploration programs including: Pete Conrad’s Moon suit, still stained with lunar dust. Guests can inspect 14 different personal space suits as they tour the Gallery. The walls of Astronaut Gallery are lined with official portraits and crew photos of every U.S. astronaut who has flown in space.

6.)  Lunar Landscape –“View from the Moon”

The spectacular 3-D lunar diorama in Space Center Houston’s Starship Gallery represents the Apollo 17 lunar landing. It was created without stars because from the surface of the moon, stars are not visible. The suit on the right with red stripes represents the commander – Eugene (Gene) Cernan. Commander Cernan is the last man to have left his footprints on the surface of the Moon. (So far!)

7.)  Lunar Rover Trainer- “The First Moon Wheels”

The Lunar Rover Trainer on display is the actual vehicle used to prepare astronauts for the Apollo 15, 16 and 17 missions to travel on the lunar terrain. The rovers used during the Apollo era had a top speed of about 8 mph (13 km/h).

8.)  Lunar Module Cockpit Trainer-“Take the Controls”

This mockup of the Apollo Lunar Module cockpit was used by NASA’s Johnson Space Center to prepare astronauts, engineers, flight controllers and technicians for the lunar landings.

9.)  Apollo 17 Command Module-“The Last Manned Spacecraft to Fly to the Moon”

This Command Module dubbed “America” was piloted by the final crew to voyage to the Moon. Astronauts Gene Cernan, Ronald Evans and Jack Schmitt all traveled to the Moon and returned to Earth in this very small capsule along with 110.52 kg (243.65 lb) of Moon rocks. The authentic artifact is the actual last manned spacecraft to fly the Moon and is on permanent display at Space Center Houston.

10.)  Flight Director Vest “The Vest is Best”—For Gene Kranz”

As Mission Control flight director for the Gemini and Apollo programs, Eugene Kranz was in command during some of NASA’s greatest achievements. He was particularly famous for wearing a different vest for good luck during each mission. Kranz wore the patriotic vest on display during the Apollo 17 mission. Where did he get the special garments? Each and every vest was handmade with love by Mrs. Kranz.

11.) Lunar Soil-“Energy of the Future?”

Between 1969 and 1972, six Apollo spaceflight missions brought back 842 pounds and 22,000 separate samples of lunar rocks, core samples, pebbles, sand and dust from the lunar surface. The samples continue to be studied by scientists around the world. The work has provided invaluable knowledge as NASA prepares to return to the moon, and beyond!