July 13, 2009

Website Celebrates Apollo 11 With Real-Time Re-Creation

In 1969, people across the world gathered together in excitement and anticipation around their black-and-white television sets to watch Neil Armstrong take the first steps on the moon. Now, the world can relive the day that changed the world.

In hopes of bringing back that same sense of wonder, people who may have never witnessed the event will be able to watch the Apollo 11 mission recreated in real time on the Web, follow Twitter feeds of transmissions between Mission Control and the spacecraft, and even receive e-mail alerts when the lunar module lands. These features are all part of a new Web site from the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum paying tribute to the moon mission and Kennedy's push for Americans to be the first to accomplish the incredible feat.

"Putting a man on the moon really did unite the globe," said director of the JFK library, Thomas Putnam. "We hope to use the Internet to do the same thing." is the website that will go live at 8:02 a.m. Thursday, just 90 minutes before the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida. It will trace the route of the capsule from the Earth to the Moon, before ending with the moon landing and Armstrong's walk in real time, only 40 years later.

The animated recreations of key events from the four-day mission will be shown, such as the part when Apollo 11 first orbits the moon and when the lunar module separates from the command module. Internet viewers will also be able to peruse video clips and photos and listen to the radio transmission between the astronauts and NASA flight controllers.

The connection between the mission and Kennedy will also be highlighted on the site since he was the one to first set the goal to have a man on the moon by the end of the decade during a May 25, 1961, speech before Congress.

The name of the website was taken from another speech given by Kennedy in 1962, when he said, "We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone and one which we intend to win."

Even though Kennedy was assassinated six years prior to Armstrong walking on the moon, the site features photos revealing the profound interest the president had in the space program, including images of him watching Alan Shepard become the first American in space.

The primary purpose of the event is to offer people the opportunity to relive the  experience of the exciting moon mission, but Putnam says that he also hopes that it will provide inspiration for people to take on the issues facing the country today with gusto, such as global warming or poverty, which may seem less possible than man reaching the moon.

"What is the next challenge? What is it that we want to achieve?" he said. "I think President Kennedy would want our leaders today to take on the biggest challenges and set those goals."


On the Net: