A rerun of Apollo 11's historic mission to the moon is set for this week, but only on the Internet.
The Web site WeChooseTheMoon.org will recreate the entire mission, from launch to orbit to landing, starting Thursday at 9:32 a.m. Eastern time, 40 years after the real thing. Audio and video from the mission will be shown, along with animated recreations of key events.
Currently at the site, the space shuttle idles on the launch pad at a virtual model of the Kennedy Space Center, with a timer counting down until blast off. Photos of the crew are already viewable in galleries.
The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum is organizing the event to celebrate the mission's 40th anniversary, and AOL is powering the site. It's a fitting host, since the moon landing was Kennedy's goal that caught the publc's imagination. It occured within his ten-year forecast, although it took place almost six years after he was assassinated.
Viewers won't be bound to the Web site, either. Three Twitter feeds will provide a "live transmission," while audio will be streamed by Shoutcast Radio. A downloadable desktop widget can also be used to track the mission.
All of this makes me think how cool another major space mission would be if NASA offered these kinds of interactive Web features to the public. Back in 1969, people crowded around television sets to soak in the event, but we live in a different time now. People aren't glued to the TV set anymore.
If we ever head to Mars, I'd definitely be interested in live tweets from CAPCOM and the pilots. Is there some cool video to see? Send me an e-mail with the link. And sure, I'll listen to some audio from time to time. Astronauts are already tweeting from space, all we need is some neat interactive skin and a mission that rivals the moon landing in scope.