July 20, 2019, marks the 50th anniversary of the day man first stepped on the moon. Relieve this historical moment through live recreations, virtual museums, documentaries, and other cool web tools.
The moon mission, while orchestrated by Americans, was a global event that tied all of humankind together. Google has already kicked off celebrations with a Google Doodle narrated by Michael Collins, the third astronaut accompanying Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin. These sites and apps only enhance the enjoyment.
And yes, we are now long past the point of getting into ridiculous debates about whether the event was real or not. There are enough online resources to debunk “fake moon landing” conspiracy theories.
1. NASA’s Apollo 50th (Web): Official Videos, Images, Transcripts, and More
Unsurprisingly, NASA has the best resources for everything you want to know about the Apollo 11 mission. Celebrating 50 years of Apollo missions, you can find all the official videos, images, transcripts, mission details, and other tidbits. Be sure to also check out the Apollo 11 mission page or other NASA pages.
For the 50th anniversary, NASA has released 45 previously unseen photographs from the moon exploration, by stitching them together as panoramas. The full Apollo Panoramas gallery is available on Flickr, and shows the lunar surface like never before.
Meanwhile, the main NASA homepage is releasing new tidbits throughout the week to celebrate the Apollo 11 mission, which will go on till July 24 when the astronauts returned. NASA TV is also airing footage throughout this period.
2. A Giant Leap for Mankind (Web): Google’s Virtual Museum, and Explore Google Moon
Apart from the Google Doodle, the internet giant also created a virtual museum tracing each step of the Apollo 11 mission. And over at Google Moon, its extra-terrestrial equivalent of Google Maps, you can explore the area that Armstrong and Aldrin walked on.
A Giant Leap for Mankind is like a virtual coffee table book. With large inspiring photos and short bursts of text, Google walks you through why we went, the science and the earlier ten missions, the liftoff, how the astronauts lived in space, and the people who made all of this happen. It’s an incredible, inspiring story which you can get lost in for hours.
But don’t waste so much time there because the cool part is Google Moon’s Apollo 11 mission. The 18 plot points on the surface of the moon chart the path of the first two explorers, and what they did. It’s one of the coolest interactive exhibits for the moon landing.
In 1969, the whole world was glued to television sets and radios, wherever they were. What was the whole environment like? Apollo 11 in Real Time looks to recreate the experience of following Apollo 11 through a web tool.
You can join at one minute to launch, and follow through in real time. It’s nine whole days worth of audio and video files, along with some photography, so you’ll want to fast forward a bit. Thankfully there’s a handy timeline of every single noteworthy event.
The on-screen control room can be a bit overwhelming at first, but you’ll get the hang of it soon. Transcript and Mission Milestones are the important buttons. The video and audio files keep playing as you click different points in the transcript and the milestones.
It’s kind of surreal to experience what the astronauts, and the mission control room, was experiencing back then.
A whole lot is made about Neil Armstrong’s “One small step for man” statement, but space geeks have more love for a different quote: “The Eagle has landed.” The impact of Armstrong and Aldrin successfully landing on the moon was unlike anything else.
If you find the Apollo 11 in Real Time app to be too overwhelming, try out First Men on the Moon. It’s a simpler app that recreates the touchdown, as experienced live across the universe.
A pane on the left shows the air-to-ground loop for astronauts and engineers on earth, while the flight director’s loop shows what the Mission Control Room is talking about (and who is). The Lunar Module’s pitch angle is shown as well, while the big screen shows the images being beamed back.
There are handy bookmarks on the timeline to jump ahead if you want to, but I’d advise being patient and using a good set of speakers. It’s glorious.
5. Chasing the Moon (Web): Documentaries About Moon Mission
The most recent big documentary film about the moon missions, Chasing The Moon by Robert Stone is a three-part series on PBS. It’s free to stream in the US, while people outside that region will need a VPN to watch it.
But this isn’t the only one you should spend time on. There are several documentaries about Apollo 11 and the moon missions that are worth a watch. One Giant Leap for Mankind is a one-hour documentary that you can watch on YouTube. The Daily Wire put together a three-part series titled Apollo 11: What We Saw which traces the roots of the moment from the time the Space Race started.
Many consider For All Mankind to by Al Reinart to be the finest documentary on the subject, which can be streamed on The Criterion Channel. And a new documentary, Apollo 11 by Todd Douglas Miller, is currently playing in theaters, and should be available to stream soon.
The New Space Race
The successful landing of the Lunar Module was pretty much the culmination point of the Space Race. Sure, there were more missions and more oneupmanship, but it wasn’t with the same vigor or determination. Armstrong’s step united all of mankind, so who were you really competing against?
Nonetheless, 50 years later, we find ourselves entering a new race. So what’s this one all about? Who are the countries vying for a spot, and what are the objectives? Here’s what’s new about the new Space Race.
Image Credit: NASA Johnson/Flickr