The North Carolina and the Space Race web exhibit was researched, curated, and edited by Jessica Bandel, digital editor of Governors’ Papers and Special Projects, with the North Carolina Office of Archives and History. It is just one part of a larger, statewide effort to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing. From April 2019 through the end of the year, the North Carolina Museum of History, in partnership with several institutional and media partners, will host several key commemorative events:
- From April 5, 2019, to January 5, 2020, the North Carolina Museum of History will be displaying a free exhibit entitled “One Giant Leap: North Carolina and the Space Race.” It features artifacts connected to the state’s contributions to Projects Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo.
- On Saturday, July 20, 2019, the North Carolina Museum of History hold the One Giant Leap Festival, an indoor/ outdoor celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Moon landing. Attendance is free, and visitors can take part in fun activities, crafts, and demonstrations, including a virtual reality-based voyage to the Moon!
- On Thursday, September 19, 2019, the North Carolina Museum of History will host Dr. Christine Darden, one of the space race-era NASA computers profiled in the book Hidden Figures by author Margot Lee Shetterly. Dr. Darden concluded a distinguished forty-year career with NASA in 2007 and is recognized today as one of the world’s foremost experts on supersonic wing design and sonic boom mitigation.
Research conducted by the North Carolina Office of Archives and History in support of these commemorative efforts additionally resulted in the dedication of two North Carolina Highway Historical Markers. The first of the two dedicated was for James E. Webb, a Granville County native who served as NASA’s administrator during the mission for the Moon. A second marker was dedicated in July 2019, for Beaufort native and shuttle pilot Michael J. Smith, who lost his life in the Challenger accident in 1986.
More information on special events and programming related to this effort can be found at liftoffnc.org.