PHOTOS: Apollo 11 projected onto Washington Monument

July 17, 2019

WTOP/Dave Dildine

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum transformed the Washington Monument into a Saturn V rocket.

The image of the 363-foot rocket was projected onto the east side of the Washington Monument, facing the Capitol building.

See photos and video.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect the event is from 9:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.

The dazzling light show will be projected again between 9:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 17 and Thursday, July 18.

Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin blasted off in 1969 for a worldwide first.

Apollo 11 took off at exactly 9:32 a.m. on July 16, 1969.

The astronauts gathered at Cape Canaveral 50 years later. “Apollo 11 … was serious business. We, crew, felt the weight of the world on our shoulders. We knew that everyone would be looking at us, friend or foe, and we wanted to do the best we possibly could,” astronaut Michael Collins said.

It took 400,000 people to put Apollo 11 on the moon a half-century ago.

About 100 of the original 500 launch controllers and managers on July 16, 1969, reunited on the 50th anniversary.

On July 16, Washington wasn’t the only place celebrating the anniversary. In Huntsville, Alabama, where the Saturn V was developed, some 4,900 model rockets lifted off simultaneously, commemorating the moment the Apollo 11 crew blasted off for the moon.

In addition to the projection-mapping artwork that took up 363 of the monument’s 555 vertical feet, the Smithsonian put the spacesuit that Armstrong wore on display. It was in mint condition, complete with lunar dust left on the suit’s knees, thighs and elbows.

On Friday and Saturday, the show at the Washington Monument will switch to a 17-minute film that re-creates the Apollo 11 launch.

The weekend event called “Apollo 50: Go for the Moon” includes a 40-foot-wide recreation of the Kennedy Space Center countdown clock.

You can see the show at 9:30 p.m., 10:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. on Friday, July 19 and Saturday, July 20.

“Go for the Moon” will be free to attend, with viewing areas available on the National Mall between the Smithsonian Castle and National Museum of Natural History.  You can text Apollo50GO to 888777 for live updates on the days of the shows.

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