Your weekend: Splashdown!
This week marks the 40th anniversary of man’s first trip to the moon. And the USS Hornet – which, if you didn’t know, was the recovery vessel for the Apollo 11 and Apollo 12 moon missions – is celebrating with a space star-studded four-day event that kicks off today.
The Hornet has long housed such space artifacts as the mobile quarantine facility that the astronauts were placed in after they returned to Earth (to ensure they didn’t bring any germs back that would wipe out humanity). But this weekend they’ll have Splashdown, which includes a bevy of special exhibits and guests that include key recovery mission personnel, a panel of female astronauts and space officials, and authors – including this guy Buzz Aldrin, who’s got a new book out about his trip to the moon or something.
The events kick off at 6 p.m. today with a members-only preview (if you join today you can go: family memberships are $75, and individual memberships are $50, $40 for seniors). Then at 6 p.m. Friday, the Hornet will host a reception with recovery team members. Guests this year include John Stonesifer, NASA Director for the Apollo 11 at-sea Quarantine Program; Bruce Johnson, co-pilot of the helicopter that ferried them back to the Hornet; and Clancy Hatleberg, the first man to greet the astronauts after they returned to Earth (they’ll speak at 2:15 p.m. Saturday).
“It’s a chance to chat with the guys. A lot of the guys have great and funny stories to tell,” the Hornet’s chief operating officer and education director, Pete Sutherland, said.
On Saturday the event will explore space history, with presentations beginning at 11 a.m. The main event – a talk by Buzz Aldrin, one of the first men to walk on the moon – is at 1 p.m., followed by a 2:30 p.m. book signing (and he’s not signing anything else, so you may leave your space memorabilia at home).
The floating museum will also host a fundraising dinner Saturday, at 6:30 p.m.
Then on Sunday, they’ll look toward the future, with a visit from astronaut Dan Bursch, who spent 196 days on the International Space Station, and a panel on women in space that includes author Mabel Armstrong; Dr. Wendy Holforty, an aerospace engineer out at the NASA Ames Research Center in the South Bay; and Dr. Margaret Race, NASA’s planetary protection officer.
In addition to the panels, they’ll have a whole slew of cool-sounding exhibits and activities that include a spacesuit demo by the folks at the Chabot Space & Science Center, a LUNAR model rocketry table, demonstrations of robotics and model Mars rovers, and space artifacts (they’ve got real moon rocks).
And if you miss out on this weekend’s fun, the museum is here, and open to the public.
“We’re here. And even after Buzz is gone, this is a great place to take your kids,” Sutherland said.
SPLASHDOWN: Thursday, July 23 through Sunday, July 26. Tickets are $25, $15 for former crew members for Friday’s reception; $25, free for kids 12 and under for Saturday’s presentations; $125, $100 for museum members ad former crew for Saturday’s dinner; and $14, $12 for seniors and military and $6 for kids 5-17 for Sunday’s presentations. The Hornet is West Hornet Avenue and Ferry Point at Alameda Point, and their phone number is 521-8448. For information, click the Splashdown link at the beginning of the story.