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National Air and Space Museum Recreates Launch of Apollo 11 on Washington Monument With Historic Projection-Mapping Program

To mark the 50th anniversary of NASA’s Apollo 11’s first voyage to the moon, U.K.-based production company 59 Productions has partnered with the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum to create a spectacular animated projection mapping show on the Washington Monument.
(Image credit: 59 Productions)

To mark the 50th anniversary of NASA’s Apollo 11’s first voyage to the moon, U.K.-based production company 59 Productions has partnered with the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum to create a spectacular animated projection mapping show on the Washington Monument. 

“Our identity as Americans is defined in part by the historic act of landing humans on the moon and returning them safely to the Earth,” said Ellen Stofan, John and Adrienne Mars director of the museum. “The Washington Monument is a symbol of our collective national achievements and what we can and will achieve in the future. It took 400,000 people from across the 50 states to make Apollo a reality. This program celebrates them, and we hope it inspires generations too young to have experienced Apollo firsthand to define their own moonshot.”

For three nights—July 16, 17, and 18—a full-sized, 363-foot Saturn V rocket will be projected onto the east face of the Washington Monument from 9:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. On July 19 and 20, a special 17-minute show, “Apollo 50: Go for the Moon” will combine full-motion projection-mapping artwork on the monument and archival footage to recreate the launch of Apollo 11 and tell the story of the first moon landing.

“Almost 50 years ago, the Apollo 11 mission captivated the world as two American astronauts were the first to step foot on the moon, forever changing space exploration,” added Interior Secretary David Bernhardt. “Through House Joint Resolution 60, Congress requested a one-time series of arrangements for displays on the National Mall and the Washington Monument to showcase this incredible achievement in our nation’s history, and we’re pleased to partner with the National Air and Space Museum so all can relive the moment.”

The public will be able to experience “Apollo 50: Go for the Moon” July 19 and 20 from viewing areas on the National Mall in front of the Smithsonian Castle between ninth and 12th streets. The viewing area will be outfitted with full sound, projection screens and a 40-foot-wide recreation of the famous Kennedy Space Center countdown clock. The free show will run three times on both nights—9:30 p.m., 10:30 p.m., and 11:30 p.m. 

More information about the viewing area and show times can be found at https://airandspace.si.edu/go-for-the-moon, or text Apollo50GO to 888777 for live updates the day of the show.