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Walton’s Lee Atwood played role in Apollo program; ‘Apollo 11: First Steps Edition’ at Cinci Museum

The recent opening of the Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission exhibit at Cincinnati Museum Center brings a connection to Northern Kentuckian John Leland Atwood, who had a major role in the first lunar landing.

John Leland “Lee” Atwood, a native of Walton in Boone County, was President of North American Aviation when the corporation secured several contracts from NASA for the Apollo program.

Walton’s Lee Atwood

Atwood was born in Walton on October 10, 1904, and had a career at North American from 1934 until retirement in 1970.

The NASA contracts applied to the Apollo command module, including the Apollo 11 capsule on display. North American also had contracts for the service module, rocket engines and the second stage in the Saturn V booster that propelled the astronauts to the moon.

Atwood led a team that was designing and engineering space vehicles that had no previous models. The previous Mercury and Gemini programs did not have the size and flight duration specifications for astronaut-carrying spacecraft as the Apollo program. The liquid hydrogen fuel of the second stage of the Saturn rocket demanded precise fabrication techniques. This fuel-powered new rocket engines being built for the first time.

The success of the Apollo program relied heavily on the engineering competence and leadership of Lee Atwood. He received the NASA Public Service Award in 1969, entered the Aerospace Hall of Fame in 1984, and was inducted into the Kentucky Aviation Hall of Fame in 2000.

The Aviation Museum is located at 4029 Airport Road in Lexington, adjacent to Blue Grass Airport. The museum has served the Commonwealth since 1995 and is home to the Kentucky Aviation Hall of Fame.

Cincinnati Museum Apollo 11 film

Experience the spectacle of one of humanity’s greatest achievements in thrilling detail with Apollo 11: First Steps Edition. Created exclusively for giant screen theaters by director Todd Douglas Miller, the film features never-before-seen footage and audio from the historic mission. The film returns to the Robert D. Lindner Family OMNIMAX® Theater September 28 with the opening of the Smithsonian exhibition Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission.

Apollo 11: First Steps Edition returns to the OMNIMAX®  Theater after a one-day run on July 20 that sold out 12 consecutive showings. The 2,750 guests were the highest single-day attendance for the theater since 2006.

Relive the first steps and remarkable achievement of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins and thousands of people behind the scenes in stunning footage, much of it revealed to the public for the first time. Crafted from a newly-discovered trove of never-before-seen 70mm footage and more than 11,000 hours of uncatalogued audio recordings, Apollo 11: First Steps Edition puts you at the center of NASA’s historic lunar landing.

Cincinnati Museum Center

“What makes this movie so much better than any other that celebrates the 50th anniversary is that the producers used only original 50-year-old film and audio without any modern commentary. That alone makes you feel like you are living through the historic event,” says Dave Duszynski, president of Mercury Museum Services. “Perhaps the most amazing moment is the Saturn V rocket launch as experienced with the OMNIMAX® Theater’s new sound system.”

Created entirely from archival materials provided by NASA and the National Archives, Apollo 11: First Steps Edition is a cinematic event 50 years in the making. The film features incredible shots of the launch, inside Mission Control and recovery and post-mission activities. Audio recordings capture individual tracks from 60 key mission personnel throughout every moment of the mission.

Apollo 11: First Steps Edition is a perfect companion film for CMC’s upcoming exhibition Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission, a national traveling exhibition produced by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) and the National Air and Space Museum.

The exhibition features over 20 authentic artifacts from the Apollo program, including several flown aboard Apollo 11 on its historic mission. The highlight of the exhibition is the Apollo 11 command module Columbia, the only portion of the spacecraft to safely return home after successfully landing men on the moon and returning them to Earth. Cincinnati is the final stop of Destination Moon’s national tour and will open September 28, 2019.

Apollo 11: First Steps Edition will run in the OMNIMAX® Theater from September 28, 2019 to February 17, 2020. For more information or to purchase tickets, click here.

From Kentucky Aviation Museum and Cincinnati Museum

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