America’s top space-age attractions to celebrate 50 years since the moon landing

20th Jul 19 | Lifestyle

Celebrate the anniversary by finding lift off without even leaving the earth, at these stateside visitor centres and museums, says Sarah Marshall.

HISTORY Moon Anniversary 1

Throughout history, explorers have made great discoveries, venturing into uncharted waters and traversing unknown lands. But easily the greatest conquest was the moment Americans Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin laid humankind’s first lunar footprint on 1969’s Apollo 11 mission to the moon – an achievement replicated by only 10 astronauts ever since.

July 20 marks the 50th anniversary of that world-changing moment, and astro attractions across the US are preparing to celebrate. Space tourism is coming but – for most of us – it’s still a way off. If you do fancy a jaunt through our solar system, here are a few of the places where rocket travel isn’t required.

The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
Where: Merritt Island, Florida

Kennedy Space Center
(Chase Dong/PA)

It all started here at the launch pad which gave Apollo 11 lift off. Today, the complex hosts several visitor attractions, making it an essential stop for any space enthusiast. Recreate those first steps on the moon through augmented reality stations in a new MoonScape exhibit and watch iconic footage of the actual landing projected onto a suspended Saturn V moon rocket. Walk through a Rocket Garden where replica rockets tower like trees and ask astronauts about their lives in the Astronaut Encounter exhibit. Visit kennedyspacecenter.com; tickets from $52/£41.

Apollo Mission Control Center at Nasa Johnson Space Center
Where: Houston, Texas

Houston Space Center
(VisitUSA/PA

All NASA’s human spaceflight missions were forged and finessed at this site, known as Mission Control, which has been restored as a visitor centre in time for the anniversary of the moon landing. At the Space Center, the Astronaut Gallery displays space suits from the decades, while in the Starship Gallery, visitors can see an Apollo 17 Command Module, a Skylab Training Module and even touch a moon rock. Visit spacecenter.org; tickets from $29.95/£24.

NASA and Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Where: Pasadena, California

Regarded as the birthplace of science exploration, Pasadena, in Los Angeles county, is home to the NASA and Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The vast space offers the public a rare and close-up look at the institution’s ongoing efforts to explore and uncover the world we exist in. A free 2.5-hour public tour showcases artefacts relating to the first moon landing and Mars rover, and there’s also a programme of presentations and lectures. This is NASA’s main centre for robotic exploration of the solar system. Visit jpl.nasa.gov; tours run on Mondays or Wednesdays at 1pm.

John Glenn Astronomy Park
Where: Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

Thanks to its lack of light pollution and clear night sky views, Hocking Hills, a park in southeastern Ohio, has been popular with astronomers for decades. At the new John Glenn Astronomy Park – named after the first NASA astronaut to orbit the earth – visitors can catch a glimpse of the sun through the Astronomy Park’s telescope (with special filters). At night, a 28-inch telescope is used in the roll-off roof observatory to view star clusters, the moon, planets and galaxies. Programmes run on various dates throughout summer. Visit jgap.info.

For more information, go to VisitTheUSA.co.uk.

© Press Association 2019

MORE FROM XPOSÉ