Take One Giant Leap to the Moon with New Augmented Reality Apps

Apollo 11 astronauts Michael Collins, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong travel to the Saturn V rocket, ready to lift off and head for the moon.
Apollo 11 astronauts Michael Collins, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong travel to the Saturn V rocket, ready to lift off and head for the moon. (Image credit: NASA)

If you weren't born when the first crewed moon-landing mission launched — or you want to relive the experience — check out USA Today's two augmented reality apps that will bring you step by step through history.

The Apollo 11 mission marked the first time astronauts, NASA's Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, set foot on the moon, landing on July 20, 1969.

USA Today will publish an eight-day "live" broadcast of the Apollo 11 mission between July 16 and 24, coinciding exactly with the moonbound mission's real-time milestones 50 years ago. You can follow the broadcast on the 321 Launch app, which is available in the App Store for Apple devices or on Google Play for Android.

Related: Apollo 11 at 50: A Complete Guide to the Historic Moon Landing Mission

The newspaper will also offer an augmented reality app on the USA Today app. Starting July 9, the app will show off the mighty Saturn V rocket, the 363-foot (110 meters) behemoth of a booster that brought crews of three people to the moon's neighborhood. Users will learn about every stage of the launch sequence and about the crewed and uncrewed launches of the rocket.

As the 50th anniversary approaches, worldwide celebrations have marked Apollo 11's mission (which took place 13 years before USA Today's 1982 founding). The mission saw Armstrong and Aldrin walk safely on the moon's surface, with fellow astronaut Michael Collins performing lunar science from orbit.

Apollo 11 kicked off six additional moon landing attempts, with five more succeeding; the Apollo 13 mission aborted en route to the moon after an explosion, but the craft returned to Earth safely.

NASA is looking to return humans to the moon for the first time since 1972, now targeting 2024 for the mission, at the directive of President Donald Trump's administration

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for Space.com for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace