In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans, the nation’s largest mortgage lender, and Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex have announced a new partnership to create a one-of-a-kind bronze statue honoring the legendary crewmembers of the spaceflight that landed the first two people on the Moon. The statue will depict Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, and will be the focal point of the new Moon Tree Garden, which will be located outside of the Apollo/Saturn V Center.
The seven-foot-tall bronze statue, set upon a four-foot-tall concrete base, is a gift to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex from Rocket Mortgage. The impressive display is being created by renowned sculptor George Lundeen of Lundeen Sculpture in Loveland, Colo. Its base will feature an engraving which honors the Apollo 11 crew and all those who made their historic spaceflight possible. The statue is expected to be installed at the visitor complex this summer and officially introduced during the Apollo 11 anniversary celebration in July.
“Rocket Mortgage is proud to be a part of this significant milestone honoring these brave pioneers that journeyed to the great unknown and forever reshaped world history,” said Jay Farner, CEO of Quicken Loans. “Like many new technologies launched in our country over the past half-century, the development of Rocket Mortgage took inspiration from the Apollo 11 mission and the entire Apollo program. NASA’s accomplishment of putting a man on the moon showed our country and the world that once seemingly ‘impossible’ barriers can be broken and to not settle for anything less than complete success.”
The detailed statue will be the centerpiece of the new Moon Tree Garden at the Apollo/Saturn V Center. The garden includes 12 Moon Trees that were provided by Rosemary Roosa, daughter of veteran Apollo 14 astronaut Stuart Roosa, and president and chief executive officer of the nonprofit Moon Tree Foundation. The foundation was created in honor of Roosa’s father, who took various tree seeds on his space mission. The seeds, which have all orbited the Moon, were later germinated and planted around the world to share the story of the mission. Since then, the Moon Tree Foundation continues to fulfill its mission by planting second-generation “Moon Trees” all over the world. The 12 trees in the Moon Tree Garden will represent each crewed Apollo mission to the Moon.
“We are grateful to Rocket Mortgage for bringing this commemorative statue to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex as we prepare to mark one of the most important anniversaries in the history of the United States space program,” said Therrin Protze, chief operating officer of Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. “The dynamic statue is indeed the perfect tribute to these early pioneers who forever changed the history of space and interplanetary travel.”
Other changes at the Apollo/Saturn V Center will include dramatic projection mapping set against the side of the majestic Saturn V Moon rocket, the focal point of the experience. The addition of a 1969 period living room and bar will replicate what it was like to watch the Moon landing at home. There will also be updates to the Lunar Module 9 and Touch the Moon exhibits, a new Fisher Space Pen legacy display, and the ability to get a closer look at the Command Service Module-119.
There are a number of events that will take place throughout the summer to mark the Apollo 50th anniversary: the July 15 opening of the reimagined Apollo/Saturn V Center, a July 16 “flashback” celebration at which visitors will be able to view original footage of the lift-off, a July 20 extravaganza to mark the 50th anniversary of the lunar landing and a final welcome home event on July 24 to commemorate the day the Apollo 11 astronauts returned to Earth.