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RALEIGH — T-minus 3, 2, 1...and we have lift off! 50 years ago, Apollo 11 became the first mission to put man on the moon. To celebrate the historic moment, the North Carolina Museum of History is hosting the One Giant Leap Festival. The festival is just one of many events planned as a part of Lift Off NC: Apollo+Beyond, a year-long collaboration between local organizations, highlighting space exploration and commemorating half a century since the lunar landing.

This celestial celebration will take place on Saturday, July 20 between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., with demonstrations, talks, and hands-on crafts. Featured activities include an immersive virtual-reality lab where visitors can “travel” to space as Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong, a bungee jump station designed for attendees to experience zero-gravity (if only for a second) like a real astronaut, and an interactive presentation on lunar tides. Parking and admission to the museum and event are FREE.  

Kids can experience out-of-this-world fun—courtesy of Kid Lab, Scrap Exchange, and many others—with crafts and games, including sensory bins of moon sand, solar gazing, straw rockets, and space history trivia.

At the #OneGiantLeapFest, NCMOH will also host our Lift Off NC partners: Marbles Kids Museum, Morehead Planetarium and Science Center, Museum of Life and Science, North Carolina Museum of History, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, North Carolina Space Grant, and North Carolina Symphony.

Throughout the festival, food and beverages will be available on-site from local (and delicious) food trucks!

Here’s what to expect for your own lunar mission:   

  • Travel to the moon and take “one giant leap for mankind” with a virtual reality simulation.
  • Walk through our exhibit, One Giant Leap, to check out exclusive artifacts and learn about North Carolina connections to the space race and the infamous day 50 years ago that changed the world forever.
  • Board a real interactive Gemini training module from Morehead Planetarium and test your ability to follow critical directions from Mission Control.
  • Sit in on talks delivered in our Demonstration Gallery by NASA Solar System Ambassadors:
    • 11:30 a.m. - Michael Keefe, “History of the Saturn V Rocket”
    • 1 p.m. - Doug Lively, “The Moon: Today and Tomorrow”
    • 2:30 p.m. - Tony Rice, “What Apollo Taught Us About Getting to Mars” 
  • Stop by Daniels Auditorium for special screenings at 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. of the Smithsonian Channel’s newest documentary, The Day We Walked on the Moon. Dive into stellar concepts like seasonal and lunar cycles, eclipses, and phases of the moon with Sparkpoint Innovations’ interactive Orbit Earth Expo, featuring inflatable scale-sized models of planets at 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 3:30 p.m.
  • Fun for the whole family with hands-on activities, space trivia, and solar gazing. 
  • Feast from 5 local food trucks, including Fuzzy’s Empanadas, Stuft, MoonRunners, Baguetteaboutit, and Kona Ice.

For a full schedule of all performances and presentations, visit or call 919-807-7900.

The One Giant Leap Festival is supported, in part, by Corning Incorporated Foundation, First Flight Foundation, Publix Super Markets Charities, Lynnwood Brewing Concern, NASA, Manhattan Cafe, NC Museum of History Associates, and MoonPie®CBS 17 is the official media sponsor of the One Giant Leap Festival.

For information about the NC Museum of History, a Smithsonian-affiliated museum, call 919-814-7000 or access or follow on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube.

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