News Release

An Epic Lunar Experience Lands at Space Center Houston

The World Premiere of “Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission” Launches This Year

HOUSTON, Feb. 22, 2017 – Space Center Houston is the first of four stops of a new exhibit featuring the Apollo 11 command module, which will leave the Smithsonian on a national tour for the first time since 1971. It will be the only location where guests can see the space capsules for both the first and last lunar landings.

The awe-inspiring “Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission” exhibit, on display Oct. 14-March 18, 2018 at Space Center Houston, is part of the nonprofit’s 25th anniversary jubilee. The center is the first and only Smithsonian Affiliate in greater Houston.

“Houston is associated with lunar exploration and our guests will be the first to trace the steps of the first voyage to the moon in this spectacular new exhibit, as well as the last voyage in our Apollo 17 capsule,” said William T. Harris, president and CEO of the science and space learning center. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience these extraordinary space craft in the same location.”

Opening just before the nonprofit celebrates its 25th anniversary on Oct. 16, the new exhibit dives into the rich history of the Apollo program. The Apollo 11 command module — the only portion of the historic spacecraft to safely return humans to Earth — will leave the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum for the first time in 46 years for the national tour.

This first stop of the national tour is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for people to see both command modules — the Apollo 11 and the Apollo 17 — as well as an array of original Apollo-era artifacts. The nonprofit Space Center Houston is the home of the Apollo 17 command module, the last mission to land men on the moon.

Completing the ultimate lunar experience, Space Center Houston’s extensive collection gives guests a close look at the largest collection of moon rocks on public display including one you can touch. It also has astronaut Pete Conrad’s moonwalking suit and the presidential podium from which John F. Kennedy delivered his speech imploring America to reach for the lunar surface.

Through original Apollo 11 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. “Destination Moon” will include an interactive 3-D tour, created from high-resolution scans of Columbia performed at the Smithsonian. The interactives will allow guests to explore the entire craft including its intricate interior, one that has been inaccessible to the public until now.

The nonprofit is the first of only four museums in the country that will showcase this amazing artifact from NASA’s race to the moon. The traveling exhibition, a partnership of the National Air and Space Museum and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), will commemorate the 50th anniversary in 2019 of the extraordinary achievement of humanity’s first step on the moon.

Permanent exhibit opens 2020

The traveling exhibit previews the permanent exhibit “Destination Moon” that will return to a place of honor in 2020 as part of 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.

On July 24, 1969, Apollo 11 met President John F. Kennedy’s 1961 challenge of “landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth.” The permanent exhibition at the Smithsonian will explore 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” will examine the mission and shed a 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.

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 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 are provided by FedEx.

SITES 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 sites.si.edu.

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 America. 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).

There is always something new to see at Space Center Houston. Connect to receive updates on the special activities this year. Join our 25th anniversary celebration by sharing your favorite Space Center Houston story, photo or video on social media. Use the hashtag #SpaceCenterHou. Go to our Visitor Info page for ticket prices and tips to enjoy your visit. For more information about Space Center Houston, visit spacecenter.org.

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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 Houston’s first and only Smithsonian Affiliate and the Official Visitor Center of NASA Johnson Space Center. More than 200,000 youth 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 www.spacecenter.org.

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