New ‘JFK Moonshot’ AR Game Takes Flight

Screen grab shows the interface for the Moon Shot VR app.

The John F. Kennedy Library Foundation has release an augmented reality game called JFK Moonshot, a simulation of the Apollo 11 space journey, in hopes of inspiring the youth of this generation.

The JFK Library has tasked itself with commemorating the 50th anniversary of the moon landing in a thoroughly modern way. On July 16, 1969, the world watched in anticipation, fear, and anxiety, as the Saturn V rocket launched the Apollo 11 team into an uncertain future. 

Assassinated in 1963, President Kennedy, a big proponent of the space race, never had the chance to witness the victory of the cause that he fought for. 

Steven M. Rothstein, the executive director for the JFK Library Foundation, has been a key figure in determining the goals and aspirations for the app. One of these goals was to include the impact that Kennedy had on space exploration. According to Rothstein, Kennedy invested about 4.4% of federal budget into space, and now it’s a little less than half of 1%.

“President Kennedy motivated a generation,” Rothstein said. “We hope that this app, even in a small way, motivates people.”

JFK Moonshot includes mini games, logs, and will feature a special tracking event on July 16, to provide audiences with entertainment, history, and a feeling of what it was like 50 years ago.

“We want to encourage young people…[have them] think about careers…and think about going into STEM,” Rothstein explained. 

The app provides the opportunity for people to look into a great historic event that still has effects lingering today. 

Going beyond the app itself, Rothstein and the foundation has planned “Space Fest” at the JFK Library from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on July 20, the anniversary of the moon landing. The event will include guest appearances from a seasoned astronaut Franklin Chang Días, and space suit engineer Su Curley.

Starting on July 16, people will be able to watch a simulated Apollo 11 launch starting at 9:32 a.m., the time the actual Apollo launched. From here they can track the module in real time through the roughly 120 hour journey from launch to the moon. 

If people do this at the JFK Library they can witness a 363-foot-tall simulation take flight as well. 

Rothstein said all ages are welcome to either of these events, however if they can’t make it, they can still track the simulated Apollo on their own devices at home. 

“I think [Kennedy] would be incredibly proud,” Rothstein said.

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