E-Bird Newsletter

Udvar-Hazy Center and county parks are celebrating 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing

It was 50 years ago this Saturday that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to set foot on the moon — and Fairfax County is celebrating.

The county is home to the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, where visitors can get up close and personal with artifacts related to the landmark Apollo 11 mission and the July 20 lunar landing.

The Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly is commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. The center in Chantilly opened in 2003. (Photos, Udvar-Hazy Center)

Among the items on permanent display at the Smithsonian Institution site in Chantilly are the flotation collar and bags used to retrieve Apollo 11’s Columbia space capsule, the boilerplate command module (constructed for various tests and to serve as a training vehicle for astronauts and other mission members), and NASA’s Mobile Quarantine Facility in which astronauts were housed for 65 hours after their return to Earth.

Throughout the week, volunteer guides will highlight the museum’s collection, tracing the history of air and space travel with 90-minute tours.

On display at the Udvar-Hazy Center: The flotation collar and bags used to help retrieve Apollo 11’s capsule after its historic moon mission surround the boilerplate command module that was used as a training vehicle.

Through Friday, Udvar-Hazy is hosting a lunar story time, featuring “Hare and Tortoise Race to the Moon,” for children ages 2-8. Throughout July, museum staff will read stories for children about famous aviators, hot-air balloon flights, trips to Mars, the night sky and winged creatures. A hands-on activity for youngsters will follow story time in the James S. McDonnell Space Hangar.

On Tuesday, Udvar-Hazy commemorated the launch of Apollo 11 with hands-on activities, a scavenger hunt and a discussion with shuttle astronaut Sandy Magnus.

Udvar-Hazy is, of course, home to many other aviation and aerospace artifacts including the Space Shuttle Discovery, an SR-71 Blackbird, and the Enola Gay, the first aircraft to drop an atomic bomb. The museum is open every day except Christmas from 10 am to 5:30 pm. Admission is free but parking prior to 4 p.m. is $15.

In Washington, the National Air and Space Museum is projecting an image of the 363-foot Saturn V rocket on the Washington Monument tonight and tomorrow from 9:30 to 11:30 p.m. On Friday and Saturday, the museum will feature a 17-minute show called “Apollo 50: Go for the Moon,” which celebrates man’s first steps on the lunar surface. On Saturday, the museum hosts a late-night celebration from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. with trivia, a special countdown to 10:56 p.m. (the exact time Armstrong set foot on the moon) and a spacesuit fashion show at 1 a.m.

But wait. There’s s’more:

Did you know that elementary schools (both located in Reston) are named after astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin? And, two Fairfax County parks have scheduled evening celebrations for this Saturday, July 20.

Lake Accotink Park, 7500 Accotink Park Road in Springfield, will hold a “Moon Landing Campfire” from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Participants, ages 8 and older, can enjoy s’mores while learning about space travel and the moon by using telescopes. Cost is $8 per person. Information: 703-569-3464 or visit Lake Accotink Park.

Similarly, Ellanor C. Lawrence Park, 5400 Walney Road in Chantilly, will host a “Walking on the Moon” program from 8:30 to 10 p.m. Eat s’mores while learning scientific and historical facts about the moon and what it meant to Virginia’s Native Americans and colonists. The program is designed for participants age 8 and older and costs $8 per person. Information: 703-631-0013 or visit Ellanor C. Lawrence Park.

NASA’s Mobile Quarantine Unit, on display at the Smithsonian’s Udvar-Hazy Center.

And the Fairfax County Park Authority is commemorating the anniversary of man’s giant leap with its new Discovery Trail Map, which explores area parks and historic sites and their connection to transportation throughout history. Visit eight sites, collect stickers at each, and be entered to win a new bicycle. Pick up a map at county park sites and county libraries, or download a copy online.


Exporting for growth: Five Fairfax County companies are among graduates from the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) Virginia Leaders in Export Trade (VALET) program. The two-year program assists companies that are committed to international exporting as a growth strategy.

The five Fairfax County companies are Reston-based telemedicine provider Avizia(acquired by American Well); Herndon-based engineering and design company Klas Telecom Government Inc., Fairfax-based defense and technology company Logos Technologies and a pair of McLean-based global security providers, Matrix International and Red 5 Holdings.

VEDP also announced that Tysons-based event and hospitality technology provider Cvent has been accepted into the VALET program. “We’re honored to be selected as a participant,” said Brian Ludwig, Cvent’s senior vice president of sales. “We were founded here in Virginia nearly 20 years ago and we’re committed to supporting continued growth in the region.”

Tech for Troops: AbleVets of Chantilly is partnering with the Northern Virginia Technology Council and the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce on a Tech for Troops drive. The mission is to collect 5,000 donations of serviceable technology items that will be refurbished and provided to veterans and their families.

The drive is looking for laptops, working flat panel monitors, desktop computer towers, cell phones, tablets and devices and has established more than a dozen collection sites. Click here to see a more detailed list of what is being accepted for donation, what is not, and how you can help.

Hack on track: The GirlsComputingLeague, in partnership with Capital One, will hold an eight-hour collegiate hackathon in Tysons on September 14.

HackGCL, to be held at Capital One headquarters, is free for college students to attend and will feature six tracks of skills and development: Fintech, cloud, health, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and education.

The most successful teams on each track will receive cash awards. Recruiters will in attendance to scout prospective talent and the event will include workshops to help students acquire advanced skills. For more information and registration, click here.