The Cradle of Aviation Museum & Education Center in Garden City welcomed award-winning science journalist, bestselling author, and critically-acclaimed space historian Andrew Chaikin on May 23. Chaikin, a former Great Neck resident, was happy to be back on Long Island to see the museum’s actual lunar module and meet with guests for this private event. After the lecture, guests were treated to a screening of “Apollo 11: First Steps Edition” in IMAX format in the museum’s giant-screen, immersive Dome Theater.
Chaikin is most famous as the author of “A Man on the Moon: The Voyages of Apollo Astronauts,” the basis for HBO’s “The Earth to the Moon” series. Throughout his lecture, Chaikin shared many wonderful stories about how the Apollo program inspired him and led him to a career as a space historian and author. He told insightful tales of things he learned from interviewing the Apollo astronauts and the work involved in putting together a historical record of their journeys. He also acknowledged the Grumman engineers who were in the audience for their contributions, including Alan Contessa Jr, who was a thermal insulation engineer on the lunar module and is now a volunteer at the museum.
July 20, 1969 marks the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11’s landing and first steps on the moon. It was Long’s Island’s Grumman engineers who designed, built and tested all the lunar modules that enabled astronauts to visit the Moon and return to Earth safely. For one moment in time, the world watched and rejoiced together at one of the greatest human and technological achievements of our time.
The Cradle of Aviation Museum offers the world’s greatest collection of lunar modules like the LM-13 and LTA-1, lunar module parts, artifacts, documentation, and images. Visitors can experience the lunar module, the mission simulator and the Clean Room, as well as see a moon rock, an artifact from each mission to the moon, an Apollo astronaut suit and more. They also have the unique opportunity to hear stories from former Grumman engineers who worked on the lunar module and now support the museum as volunteer docents.
Additionally, two upcoming events include an Apollo at 50 anniversary dinner honoring Apollo astronauts and flight directors on June 6, as well as a Community Countdown Celebration on July 20. The museum invites all to join together and be part of this historic anniversary for Long Islanders and the world. Details can be found at www.cradleofaviation.org/apollo.
The Cradle of Aviation Museum and Education Center is home to more than 75 planes and spacecraft representing over 100 years of aviation history and Long Island’s only Giant Screen Dome Theater. Currently, the museum is celebrating Countdown to Apollo at 50 sponsored by the Robert D.L. Gardiner Foundation, showcasing Long Island and Grumman’s significant role in the Apollo program.
Additional sponsors of the 50th anniversary events include Northrop Grumman ASME, Bethpage Federal Credit Union, Jet Blue Airways, PSEG Long Island, Merrill Lynch Riedy-Marano Group, Newsday, AppDynamics, News12, Terminal One, Lufthansa, Air France, Japan Airlines and Korean Air.
The museum was recently recognized and listed on New York State’s National Register of Historic Places as a significant part of American history. The museum is located on Museum Row, Charles Lindbergh Blvd., in East Garden City. For more information, call 516-572-4111 or visit www.cradleofaviation.org.