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McDonald's moonman: Apollo astronaut statue erected at Houston-area restaurant

A new statue of an Apollo astronaut stands outside the McDonald's in Nassau Bay, a suburb of Houston, Texas.
A new statue of an Apollo astronaut stands outside the McDonald's in Nassau Bay, a suburb of Houston, Texas. (Image credit: City of Nassau Bay)

A new statue of an Apollo astronaut now stands near NASA in Houston, just in time for the anniversary of the first moon landing.

To find it, just follow the Golden Arches (opens in new tab).

"Looking for an out-of-this world photo op? Come to Nassau Bay (opens in new tab), where this incredible astronaut was installed today in front of the McDonald's located at 1320 E. NASA Parkway!" city officials wrote on the Facebook page (opens in new tab) for the Houston suburb on Monday (July 18).

The new Apollo astronaut statue at the McDonald's restaurant in Nassau Bay, Texas, was installed on Monday, July 19, 2022, just two days before the 53rd anniversary of the Apollo 11 first moon landing. (Image credit: City of Nassau Bay)

The larger-than-life astronaut is sculpted wearing an Apollo-style spacesuit, complete with a NASA logo on its chest, a reflective gold helmet visor and a red carton of McDonald's french fries in its gloved left hand.

"I built a pedestal around the 13-foot [4-m] astronaut so customers and visitors can take their picture, and I know the city was thrilled to have it up again," Ken Kades, the restaurant's operator, told the Beumont Enterprise (opens in new tab) newspaper.

Although brand new, the statue replaces a similar landmark that for more than 25 years stood atop the roof of the McDonald's at its former location across the street and nearer to Johnson Space Center down NASA Road One. The astronaut helped set the restaurant apart from others in the chain.

"The business moved to the new location over a year ago, and after some deep digging, I was able to find the original artist who designed and created the original astronaut 27 years ago," Kades said.

Artist John Knott's original astronaut statue seen being installed in 1995 at the now former McDonald's restaurant on NASA Road 1 in Houston, Texas, near Space Center Houston and NASA's Johnson Space Center. (Image credit: Bent Fabrication Studio)

John Knott's 1995 fiberglass creation wore a less-detailed space shuttle-era spacesuit that lacked the NASA insignia but still held out a box of fries. The local artist, whose work through Bent Fabrication Studio also includes building a full-scale mockup of Axiom Space's commercial space station (opens in new tab), shared photos of the new astronaut under construction on his Instagram feed (opens in new tab).

The public is welcome to come see the statue, regardless if they are eating at McDonald's.

"We encourage all of our residents and visitors to check out the astronaut," the Nassau Bay Facebook post read. "Parking for photos is available."

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Robert Z. Pearlman
collectSPACE.com Editor, Space.com Contributor

Robert Pearlman is a space historian, journalist and the founder and editor of collectSPACE.com, an online publication and community devoted to space history with a particular focus on how and where space exploration intersects with pop culture. Pearlman is also a contributing writer for Space.com and co-author of "Space Stations: The Art, Science, and Reality of Working in Space” published by Smithsonian Books in 2018. He previously developed online content for the National Space Society and Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin, helped establish the space tourism company Space Adventures and currently serves on the History Committee of the American Astronautical Society, the advisory committee for The Mars Generation and leadership board of For All Moonkind. In 2009, he was inducted into the U.S. Space Camp Hall of Fame in Huntsville, Alabama. In 2021, he was honored by the American Astronautical Society with the Ordway Award for Sustained Excellence in Spaceflight History.