By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com
The climax of Cradle of Aviation Museum’s family friendly Apollo 11 50th anniversary Moon Fest was the countdown to the landing of a scale model of the Eagle lunar module timed with a video of the actual landing.
But there was so much more during the day. Some 2500 people turned out to take part in events and activities.
They delighted in meeting three Space Shuttle astronauts, who gave talks and signed autographed photos: Bill Shepherd (a former Babylon resident, who was in the first crew and literally turned on the lights in the International Space Station and lived in space for140 days) & Charlie Camarda (of Ozone Park, an American engineer and a NASA astronaut who flew his first mission into space on board the Space Shuttle mission STS-114 and served as Senior Advisor for Engineering Development at NASA Langley Research Center) and Bob Cenker, a payload specialist and crew member on the seventh flight of Space Shuttle Columbia.
Among the docents and guides are many former Grumman workers who helped build the machines and communications that put astronauts on the moon and the International Space Station, as well as space enthusiasts, like Matt Arnold, who, after giving a guided tour of the Space exhibit, shows us the model of the International Space Station that he built for the museum. Richard Kalen, of Hicksville, who had helped assemble the wings on the Shuttle, explained what went wrong to cause the Challenger and Columbia tragedies.
There were moon buggy races, where kids got to traverse a “lunar obstacle course” driving electric lunar rovers; launched water-bottle rockets they built and decorated; looked through solar telescopes; saw student-built robotics demonstrations from the First Lego League; posed for photos with the superhero characters from the not-for-profit NY Avengers Cosplayers.
There were also screenings of the Apollo 11 First Steps Edition documentary in Cradle’s immerse Dome Theater and a virtual reality experience where you explore the inside and outside of the Apollo 11 with Microsoft’s Mixed Reality and HoloLens technology.
Then, at 4 pm, they crammed into the atrium to watch a video of the actual Apollo 11 landing, as a scale model of the Lunar Module descended in concert with the actual events.
The celebration continued into the evening with a dinner menu matching the same beef-and-salmon menu served to the astronauts at the White House and dancing to the music of the 1960s.
The Cradle of Aviation Museum, home of the Lunar Module, is currently exhibiting the largest collection of Lunar Modules, Lunar Module parts, artifacts, photos, and documentation in the world.
There is still time to visit the Apollo Space Exhibit. Here are 11 “must sees”:
11. Living in Space Exhibit showcasing food & waste management for Apollo
10. Pop Culture Exhibit showing space toys and memorabilia from 1969
9. Gemini Capsule Replica that you can sit in; as seen in First Steps movie
8. A real Moon Rock!
7. Mission to Moon Exhibit includes an item from each mission that has been to the moon and back.
6. Tom Stafford’s Spacesuit as worn by Stafford while training for the Apollo 10 mission in 1968/69.
5. Neil Armstrong’s Bioharness from Apollo 11
4. Rockwell Command Module w/ Parachute which was the control center for the Apollo spacecraft and provided the living and working quarters for astronauts.
3. Grumman Lunar Module Simulator that all Apollo Astronauts trained on, originally at Kennedy Space Center.
2. Grumman Lunar Module Clean Room Display featuring the LTA-1, the first fully functional LM, as it appeared while under construction at Grumman.
1. Grumman Lunar Module LM-13 – the crowned jewel of the museum. The LM-13 was intended for the Apollo 19 mission to Copernicus Crater in 1973, which was ultimately cancelled. It is one of three Lunar Modules left on earth. The other two are at Kennedy Space Center and Smithsonian’s Air & Space. It is presented in a re-created lunar surface scene with a mannequin wearing an actual Apollo spacesuit.
The Cradle of Aviation Museum and Education Center is home to over 75 planes and spacecraft representing over 100 years of aviation history and Long Island’s only Giant Screen Dome Theater. Currently, the museum is celebrating “Countdown to Apollo at 50” sponsored by the Robert D.L. Gardiner Foundation, showcasing Long Island and Grumman’s significant role in the Apollo program. The Museum was recently recognized and listed on New York State’s National Register of Historic Places as a significant part of American history. The museum is located on Museum Row, Charles Lindbergh Blvd., in East Garden City. For more information call (516) 572-4111 or visit www.cradleofaviation.org.
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