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Small steps and giant leaps: The 50th anniversary of the moon landing

Join us for a space themed day of talks, demos and activities.

NASA via Wikimedia Commons

Event description

On 20 July 1969 humans landed on the moon for the very first time. 50 years later, our focus is now on Mars and beyond. What have we learned from over 50 years of space exploration? What do we still need to overcome? Join us for a space themed day full of talks, demos and activities to explore these questions and more. 

Doors will be open from 12.00pm until 6.00pm so you can either stay for the whole day or choose the talks and timings that suit you. 


12.00pm: Doors open, demos and activities begin. 

Food and drink will be available in the cafe.

1.30pm — 2.15pm: The Moon: Then and now. 

At 20:17:40 UTC on July 20th 1969 the Apollo 11 Lunar Module landed on the Moon. Six and a half hours later Neil Armstrong stepped onto the lunar surface and announced " That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."  About twenty minutes later Buzz Aldrin joined him while Michael Collins orbited in the Control Service Module above. Historic moments for mankind as the world watched the flickering pictures on black and white televisions. Robin Mobbs will explore how they did it; the way they operated the Saturn V rocket that took them there, the new technologies that had to be developed, the operating techniques that had to be formulated, practised and refined, how they navigated their way through cislunar space to land safely (just),  The astronauts trained for their ground-breaking journey believing that they had a 50/50 chance of landing successfully.

3.00pm — 3.45pm: My Gosh, space is radioactive!

The words uttered by Ernie Ray, a coworker of James Van-Allen, when Explorer 3 measured radiation levels astronomically higher than expected. Frances Staples will explore the 60 years of scientific discovery since the realisation of radiation hazards in space.

4.30pm — 5.15pm: Moving to the Moon

50 years on from the Apollo program, the Moon has formed the desolate backdrop for a new era of space exploration. This era is one populated not by nations, but by private companies, each vying to make the next giant leap. The race is certainly on, but what’s the prize? Join Calum Hervieu as he looks to humanity’s future on the Moon and expect to hear his insider’s view into this resurgence of lunar exploration.

6.00pm: Doors close

About the speakers

Robin Mobbs is a Lead Educator at the National Space Academy. Robin studied Maths, Chemistry and Engineering post-16 before completing a BSc and PGCE at university. Robin has been a Lead Educator with the National Space Academy since 2012.  He has had roles as Head of Physics and Head of Science. Robin has now retired from full time teaching but continues to educate and inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.

Frances Staples is a PhD student at UCL studying the dynamics of the Van Allen radiation belts - rings if relativistic particles trapped in Earth’s magnetic field. During her Master's in physics at Lancaster University she specialised in space science, researching convection in the Earth’s ionosphere. Her research interests focus on improving our understanding of the complex interactions between the solar wind and Earth’s magnetosphere. Better knowledge of this system will aid space weather forecasting models, allowing action to be taken to mitigate damage to technology and infrastructure.

Calum Hervieu is a Spacecraft Operations Engineer working on the lunar surface mission definition at PTScientists in Berlin; a New Space company that aims to be the first private company to land a spacecraft on the Moon. He holds a master’s degree in Astrophysics from the University of Edinburgh and another in Space Exploration Systems from the Politecnico di Torino, Italy, which was supported by the European Space Agency. He has experience working on a lunar exploration astronaut training project as an intern at the European Astronaut Centre, Germany, and was selected by NASA researchers as a crew member for the Hawai’I Space Exploration Analog and Simulation Mission VI on the Island of Hawai’i.


The theatre is on the first floor and there is step-free access from the street via lift.

The closest underground station is Green Park, which is step-free.

There is space at floor level in the theatre for wheelchair users.

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Our theatre is equipped with an Audio Induction Loop.