Spacecraft from First and Last Lunar Landings Together for First Time, Only at Space Center Houston

World Premiere Exhibit ‘Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission’
Opens Oct. 14 at Space Center Houston

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HOUSTON, Sept. 29, 2017 – Only at Space Center Houston will guests experience the command modules from the first and last lunar landings, together under the same roof for the first time. The world premiere of “Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission” opens Oct. 14 at the center, which is the home of the Apollo 17 command module.

These two awe-inspiring exhibits appearing at the same time culminate Space Center Houston’s yearlong jubilee celebration, right before the center celebrates 25 years on Oct. 16. Houston is where the Apollo astronauts lived and trained for their missions.

“Space Center Houston guests will be the first and only to see extraordinary spacecraft from the first voyage to the moon and the last voyage,” said William T. Harris, president and CEO of the science and space learning center. “This exceptional exhibit commemorates 25 years of science learning.”

This is the first stop for the Smithsonian traveling exhibition “Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission” which features the command module and other artifacts from the first lunar landing on July 20, 1969. The command module has not left the Smithsonian since entering the Smithsonian in 1971. The Apollo 17 command module and other artifacts from the last mission to land men on the moon on Dec. 11, 1972, resides at Space Center Houston.

The result is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for guests.

“Destination Moon” dives into the rich history of the Apollo 11 mission. This rare tour showcases more than 20 one-of-a-kind Apollo 11 mission artifacts, some of which flew on the historic Apollo 11 mission. They include the hatch, a lunar sample return container, astronaut Buzz Aldrin’s extravehicular visor and gloves, astronaut Michael Collins’ Omega Speedmaster watch, a star chart and survival kit.

The exhibition explores what led the United States to accept this challenge and how the resulting 953,054-mile voyage to the moon and back was accomplished just eight years after the program was authorized. “Destination Moon” examines the mission and sheds light on some of the more than 400,000 people employed in NASA programs who worked through the trials, tragedies and triumphs of the 20 missions from 1961 to 1969 before Apollo 11.

The center also will feature an array of Apollo artifacts such as training spacesuits from Apollo 13 Astronaut Fred Haise and Apollo 9 Astronaut David Scott as well as a toolkit, a lunar module controller and more. 

Through original flown artifacts, models, videos and interactives, guests will learn about the historic journey of the Apollo 11 crew — Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin. Guests can explore the entire spacecraft thanks to an interactive 3-D tour created from high resolution scans of Columbia by the Smithsonian, including its intricate interior, which has not been viewable to the public until now.

The traveling exhibition will commemorate the 2019 50th anniversary of humanity’s first step on the moon.

Permanent exhibit opens 2021 at Smithsonian

The traveling exhibit previews the permanent exhibit “Destination Moon” that will take a place of honor in 2021 in a new gallery at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.  It will tell the story of human exploration of the moon, from ancient dreams to the Apollo program to the missions happening right now.

Before entering the Smithsonian’s collection, the command module traveled on a 50-state tour throughout 1970 and 1971 covering more than 26,000 miles. It then went on display in the Smithsonian’s Arts and Industries Building before the current National Air and Space Museum was built on the National Mall.

“Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission” is organized by the National Air and Space Museum and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. The exhibition is made possible by the support of Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos, Joe Clark, Bruce R. McCaw Family Foundation, the Charles and Lisa Simonyi Fund for Arts and Sciences, John and Susann Norton, and Gregory D. and Jennifer Walston Johnson. Transportation services for Destination Moon are provided by FedEx.

There is always something new to see at Space Center Houston. Connect to receive updates on the special activities this year. Become a Member and receive year-round benefits and invitations to Member-only events. For more information about Space Center Houston, visit

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The Manned Space Flight Education Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit science and space learning center with extensive educational programs. Space Center Houston is the cornerstone of its mission to inspire all generations through the wonders of space exploration. The center draws more than 1 million visitors annually, was called “The Big Draw” by USA Today and generates a $73 million annual economic impact in the greater Houston area. Space Center Houston is a Smithsonian Affiliate and the Official Visitor Center of NASA Johnson Space Center. More than 200,000 teachers and students from around the world visit the center annually to experience our educational space museum with more than 400 things to see and experience. For more information, go to

SOURCE: Manned Space Flight Education Foundation

The Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for 65 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science, and history, which are shown wherever people live, work and play. For exhibition description and tour schedules, visit

The National Air and Space Museum building on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., is located at Sixth Street and Independence Avenue S.W. The museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is located in Chantilly, Virginia, near Washington Dulles International Airport. Attendance at both buildings combined exceeded 9 million in 2016, making it the most visited museum in the world. The museum’s research, collections, exhibitions and programs focus on aeronautical history, space history and planetary studies. Both buildings are open from 10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. every day (closed Dec. 25).

SOURCE: Smithsonian Institution

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