50th Anniversary

July 20, 2019

2018-8-31 0:00:00 2018-8-31 18:00:00 America/Denver Flagstaff's Lunar Legacy The Altura family picnic 2018. You are all more then welcome. Sharon Meadow, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco Altura picnic@altura.com

Experience the 50th anniversary of one of humankind’s grandest achievements in setting foot on another world. When Neil Armstrong stepped onto the Moon on July 20, 1969, he at once met the audacious challenge of President John F. Kennedy to land an American safely on the Moon, while turning our species into citizens of the world. Over the ensuing three years, 11 other people walked on and explored the Moon. This was possible only with years of preparation, in which many milestones occurred in the Flagstaff area including astronaut science training, instrument development and lunar mapping.

Joe O’Connor
testing early Apollo spacesuit at Hopi Buttes Volcanic Field east of Flagstaff, September 1965.

PHOTO CREDIT: U.S. Geological Survey, Branch of Astrogeology (Flagstaff, AZ), photo P45, F9547c

Apollo 16 astronauts Charles Duke and

John Young testing early Lunar Rover prototype “Grover” in Flagstaff, September 1970.

PHOTO CREDIT: U.S. Geological Survey, Branch of Astrogeology (Flagstaff, AZ)

Lunar Flying Vehicle

prototype testing at Hopi Buttes Volcanic Field east of Flagstaff, August 1966.

PHOTO CREDIT: U.S. Geological Survey, Branch of Astrogeology (Flagstaff, AZ), photo P141, F866259

Stereometric camera

prototype being tested at Hopi
Buttes Volcanic Field east of Flagstaff,

September 1965.

PHOTO CREDIT: U.S. Geological Survey, Branch of Astrogeology (Flagstaff, AZ), photo P105, F666544c

Apollo field test with Lunar Module model at Cinder Lake Crater Field east of Flagstaff,

October 1967.

PHOTO CREDIT: U.S. Geological Survey, Branch of Astrogeology (Flagstaff, AZ)

The Apollo 11 crew –

Neil Armstrong,

Michael Collins and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, all received scientific

training in Flagstaff

PHOTO CREDIT: NASA, photo ksc-71-178

Apollo 11 astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, the second man to

walk on the Moon,

July 20, 1969

Trained in Flagstaff

PHOTO CREDIT: NASA, photo as11-40-5874

Blast test following Crater Field #1 construction east of Flagstaff.

PHOTO CREDIT: U.S. Geological Survey, Branch of Astrogeology (Flagstaff, AZ)

Flagstaff was the hub for northern Arizona astronaut training, which included astrogeology excursions to the Grand Canyon National Park.

PHOTO CREDIT: NASA photo S-64-14760

Click on the moon for a zoomable lunar map:

Apollo Mission Milestones that occurred in Flagstaff:

All astronauts who walked on the Moon, including Neil Armstrong, Alan Shepard, Buzz Aldrin, and Flagstaff scientist Jack Schmitt, trained in Flagstaff and northern Arizona at multiple locations.

US Geological Survey (USGS) Branch of Astrogeology scientists worked in Mission Control in Houston during the Apollo Moon flights, helping direct the astronauts' lunar excursions.

Apollo 11 Mission is the first manned lunar landing and Coconino County Superior Court reporters traveled to Mission Control in Houston to transcribe conversations in real time between astronauts and Mission Control personnel.


Using explosives, geologists create a simulated lunar surface in the cinder fields near Sunset Crater, complete with a network of craters modeled after authentic Moon craters. These fields were ideal for training astronauts and testing equipment, including lunar rover vehicle simulators (Moon buggies).






USGS scientists studied the Moon through telescopes at Lowell Observatory, Northern Arizona University, the US Naval Observatory’s Flagstaff Station, and the USGS telescope built specifically for lunar mapping.


NASA and the USGS test three lunar rover vehicle simulators at Sunset Crater, Merriam Crater and surrounding volcanic features. Two were built in Flagstaff, and one remains on display today at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center.


Artists worked with scientists at Lowell Observatory to create beautifully detailed lunar maps. Much of this work was accomplished by observing the Moon through Lowell telescopes, including the historic 24 inch Clark refractor, which remains in use today for public education.

US Geological Survey Branch of Astrogeology begins operations in Flagstaff, with the purpose of providing lunar mapping and science training for the astronauts destined for the Moon.


USGS astrogeologists created the lunar maps used for selecting landing sites on the Moon. Today, the USGS Astrogeology Science Center supports NASA and other space agencies with planetary mapping for numerous spacecraft missions throughout the solar system.

Lowell Observatory

Lunar Legacy Launch Event

July 20, 2018


Historic downtown Orpheum Theater
15 W Aspen Ave, Flagstaff, AZ 86001  |  orpheumflagstaff.com


Concert with Planet Sandwich and Lucky Lenny

Children’s crafts

Special guests

Presentations about Flagstaff’s role in preparing for the Moon missions

Mayor Proclamation recognizing Flagstaff AZ Lunar Legacy celebration


Event starts at 5:30 p.m.   |   Music at 8:00 p.m.

Activities through 2019:

Tours at Lowell Observatory, United States Geological Survey,

and cinder field training sites

Monthly Lunar Lecture Series featuring presentations highlighting various aspects of the science and cultural impact of the Moon

Enjoy specially crafted lunar-themed menu

options at participating restaurants

Exhibits about astronaut training and lunar mapping

Demonstrations of student-created robotic rovers

Lunar-themed art exhibits