363-foot Apollo 11 Saturn V rocket lights up Washington Monument for 50-year anniversary

Apollo 11 - What You Need to Know

Americans are marking the 50-year anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing with commemorative events around the country this month.

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In Washington, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum is projecting a life-like, massive  Saturn V rocket on the east side of the Washington Monument in a realistic depiction of the famous rocket that blasted off to the moon 50 years ago from the Kennedy Space Center.

The rocket was designed to fly astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins in a historic journey to the moon and back.

The projection is surrounded by spotlights and shows launch animation and a fiery blast off. It's part of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's "Go for the Moon" show and celebration of the milestone anniversary.

"The Washington Monument is a symbol of our collective national achievements and what we can and will achieve in the future. It took 400,000 people from across the 50 states to make Apollo a reality. This program celebrates them, and we hope it inspires generations too young to have experienced Apollo firsthand to define their own moonshot," the Smithsonian Museum's director told the news website DCist this month.

The image was first projected on the monument beginning Tuesday and will run through Thursday night. The festivities this week include a recreation of Apollo 11’s launch outside the Smithsonian Castle on Friday and Saturday, the actual anniversary of the first moonwalk.