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Apollo@50: Celebrating 50 years since man reached the Moon

On 16 July 1969, the 363-feet tall Saturn V rocket launched on the Apollo 11 mission from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida.

Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) celebrated the 50th anniversary of this momentous mission with hands-on workshops, the chance to hold real moon rocks brought back from Apollo missions (part of STFC’s Borrow the Moon scheme), talks and tours of departments involved with lunar exploration. All of which wowed local schools, the general public and staff.

Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) and Daresbury Laboratory (DL) were delighted to host a selection of lunar rocks over the course of the week for people to hold, identify and observe up close. “This will be the oldest thing that you will ever touch” explained RAL Public Engagement Manager, Sophy Palmer.

RAL Space Instrument Scientist, Barry Kellett delivered an inspiring public Talking Science lecture on the 50th Anniversary of the Moon landings at RAL. This included the history of the Russian-American “space race” to the terrifying drama just seconds before the historic landing. He also gave a fantastic overview of the Moon landings and discussed some of the conspiracy theories that surround them.

Attendees throughout the week (15-20 July) shared their memories of the lunar landings and children were invited to think about what they’d ask someone who’d experienced the famous day back in July 1969.

Since March, the RAL Public Engagement (PE) team has been developing the Apollo 11 storytelling session, running successful pilot events at local libraries and other community spaces. Over the summer holidays, the RAL PE team, along with numerous STEM Ambassadors, will be providing these events at several local libraries, in association with the Reading Agency. The events will include a story session, craft activities, and the opportunity to hold real-life meteorites. Keep an eye out for more information on our Twitter page.

Barry Kellett digs into the history of the lunar samples brought back to Earth after the Apollo missions.

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Last updated: 25 July 2019

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