One Great AR App for Mankind
JFK Moonshot celebrates Apollo 11 and the late president's contributions.
An AR Experience
Fifty years ago, Neil Armstrong became the first human being to set foot on the lunar surface. But his boots would never have touched moondust without the contributions of another great American: President John F. Kennedy.
The new app JFK Moonshot commemorates Apollo 11’s historic anniversary, highlighting Kennedy’s stewardship of the national campaign to get Armstrong, and pilots Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, safely to the moon and back.
The app mixes augmented reality (AR) and archival video footage with photos depicting key moments. They include the president’s 1961 speech before Congress declaring the country’s commitment to sending an astronaut to the moon within a decade, plus footage of the moon landing itself in 1969.
Ready for launch
In the Launch section of the app, you can view an AR replica of the Saturn V rocket that sent the Apollo 11 crew into space. Shrink it to stand about as tall as your coffee table, or see it at its actual 363-foot-tall size. On July 16, 2019—which is 50 years to the day the original crew took flight—you’ll also be able to watch the Saturn V launch in AR. Until then, the rocket is paired with a countdown clock. “President Kennedy believed in the power of people coming together to solve complex problems, and that manifested itself in Apollo 11,” says Steven Rothstein, executive director of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation. “At the time that President Kennedy set the goal, there wasn’t any scientific information that said we could do this.”
Learn and play
The Play section of the app features six AR mini-games depicting various parts of the Apollo 11 mission. You can assemble the Saturn V rocket that brought the Apollo Lunar Module into space, help the Apollo 11 crew detach from Saturn V and connect with the space shuttle Columbia, and try your hand at landing a Lunar Module safely on the moon. And, of course, you can re-create the iconic moon walk, plant the American flag, and collect moon rocks. Before you can play each of these games, you’ll answer a trivia question on Apollo 11 and JFK history. Peppering in these factoids, Rothstein says, is one more way to surface the mission’s far-ranging influence. Think of it: Back in 1961, when JFK challenged the nation to go to the moon, not a single college in the country had a computer-science program, Rothstein says. “The alloys needed to build a rocket to get us to the moon hadn’t been invented yet. But President Kennedy had the vision at the time to know that going to the moon would spin off tons of inventions that would positively impact the entire world—and indeed thousands of inventions came out.” (Related innovations included GPS location tracking, the deicing of airplanes, and CAT scans.) “AR was really our only choice to do this,” Rothstein says. “It's cutting-edge. And it feels right, given that in so many ways Apollo 11 was all about using new technologies to do something ambitious that can unite and inspire.”