The Apollo Education Experience Project

Happy Thanksgiving, and Happy 50th Anniversary Apollo 12!

I know Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday and that this site has visitors from all over the world, but that doesn’t mean I can’t send good wishes to everyone who visits here! Plus, whether you’re American or not, you can still be thankful for your family, for all the friends you know, and the good things you have.

I also know that the Project’s target date of November 20 – the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 12 moon landing – has come and gone. While the Command Module replica is still far from complete, I have been making a lot of progress. In fact, I have dozens of new photos to share, but I have been working so hard on getting as much done as I could before the end of November that I haven’t had time to post them and write new articles. Updates are on the way – I promise! And don’t be surprised if I back-date some of them to help keep the articles in the order of construction.

I celebrated Thanksgiving by having lunch with family. My immediate family is scattered across several states, so I lunched with my cousin, his wife, and his mom (my aunt). My cousin works for Lockheed Martin and is an F-16 instructor. He was telling me about one of his students who is now an astronaut and just recently returned from the ISS (International Space Station). He’s now starting training for one of the first return trips to the moon!

And I celebrated the Apollo 12 anniversary in a personal way, rather than attending a large event. I recently acquired a retro video game – a stand-up cabinet system with several of the arcade games I played back in the day. I’m sure most everyone here has heard of its signature game – “Asteroids” by Atari.

My new retro Asteroids video game

But before “Asteroids”, there was another coin-op game that came out just a few short years after the Apollo program had come to an end – “Lunar Lander”. This was Atari’s first vector-graphics game (“Asteroids” was the second), which had the object of controlling an “Apollo-esque” Lunar Excursion Module (LEM) and attempting to land on the moon. The retro version I got does a pretty faithful job of recreating both the game and the look of the vector graphics.

Screenshot of “Lunar Lander” game in progress

The original coin-op game had a variable thrust control lever that is absent from this version, but that is understandable given that the controls on this cabinet are used for three other games which don’t need a lever. But after a few tries, I got the hang of using the thrust button to achieve a number of successful landings – and a few not so successful. I love the creative messages that come up after less-than-perfect landings, such as “You landed hard – your trip is one way.” But I prefer seeing messages like this one:

Screenshot of “Lunar Lander” game in progress – successful landing on 5x multiplier site!

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