WAPAKONETA, Ohio (WDTN) – July 20th marks the 50 year anniversary of the United States and NASA putting a man on the moon.
The historical event capped off the 1960’s space race between the United States and Russia to see who could be the first to get an astronaut to the next steps of space travel.
The US-pilot astronauts that manned the lunar module and were the first two men to step onto the lunar surface of the moon were Buzz Alderin and Wapakoneta -born Neil Armstrong.
Armstrong famously said the historical line “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind” upon stepping foot on the moon.
Wapakoneta was the home of the Armstrong family a number of times throughout the 1940’s and Armstrong grew up attending Blume High School. Armstrong even began his flying career in the area, attaining his student flight certificate by 16 years old.
In 1972, the Armstrong Air and Space Museum was opened as a way to commemorate the national hero and his historical accomplishments, as well as the accomplishments of NASA and their engineers.
As a way to celebrate the 50 year anniversary of the moon landing, the Armstrong Air and Space Museum begins a 10 day celebration that runs from July 12th through the 21st.
The 10 day event will feature scientific presentations, family games, special events, and more.
Museum Executive Director Dante M. Centuori said that the museum hopes the events bring a renewed appreciation of multiple generations for the history that has deep roots in their community.
“I think right now with the anniversary,” said Centuori, “what I’m starting to see is an inter-generational connection. I’m seeing grandparents come with their grandchildren.”
Centuori stressed that the museum gives people a chance to learn about facts that have gone unknown or misunderstood over time. “Those who follow the space program and take it for granted,” said Centuori, “may not realize that a lot of the public just doesn’t know that part of the story.”
“With the 50th anniversary being so big, we knew it couldn’t just be one weekend,” said Centuori.
The community-wide events includes a hot air balloon rally at the Wapakoneta Fairgrounds, a downtown parade, unveiling new Neil Armstrong statues at the museum, and a Q&A with five Ohio astronauts that have worked with NASA.
On the 50th anniversary of the shuttle launch, Tuesday the 16th, the museum will highlight the science behind rockets and launching the first step of the space journey.
Other events going on throughout the community that week include a 5K, screening a live broadcast from NASA, and the ribbon cutting of the new Neil Armstrong STEM Inspiration Center. A full list of community events can be found here.
The full museum schedule can be found here. Standard admission rates apply to all museum events.