Pasto Agricultural Museum participates in Apollo 11 anniversary event

Kelly Jedrzejewski
July 09, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Tuesday, July 16, marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission’s Saturn V rocket launch. Three Penn State colleges, the NASA Pennsylvania Space Grant Consortium and the Pasto Agricultural Museum will mark the occasion with a free family event that will include a simultaneous rocket launch, hands-on activities, exhibits and demonstrations.

The event will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Ag Progress Days site at the Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center in Ferguson Township, 9 miles southwest of State College on state Route 45.

The Pasto Agricultural Museum will feature a special “Food on the Go” presentation with hands-on activities from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Special programming will connect topics related to the history of food and travel -- from the Vikings to Oregon Trail emigrants to a more modern family car ride to grandma’s house.

Rita Graef, curator of the Pasto Agricultural Museum, explained that travelers have been packing food for long journeys since the beginning of time. “Food availability, packaging and nutrition are important considerations that our hands-on activities explore,” she said.

Museum visitors can identify menus on a food timeline and decide how they would pack for a trip across the country versus one into outer space. Visitors also will be able to taste samples of freeze-dried food provided by the Pennsylvania Space Grant Consortium.

Graef said the links between the history of agriculture and NASA’s space program are strong. “Like all explorers before them, astronauts need to eat,” she said. “Conditions such as weather, location, soil, water availability and energy needed by travelers will affect what food is packed for any trip. We use the same science to understand issues and options whether we are considering 1859 recommendations to pack bacon in bran for the 2,000-mile journey by wagon across the desert or rehydrating freeze-dried cubes for space food in 1969.”

Thinking about food, food production and food packaging “back then” can help us understand what we do now and imagine future possibilities, Graef added. From global positioning systems to remote sensing to crop forecasting, technology developed by NASA is used throughout agriculture today. Graef recommends the article, NASA is Everywhere: Farming Tech with Roots in Space, for more information about the links between NASA and agriculture.

In addition to the rocket launch event, a celebration of the Apollo 11 moon landing will take place on Saturday, July 20, at The State Theatre in downtown State College. Former astronaut James Pawelczyk will speak, followed by a free showing of the “Apollo 11” film. Doors open at 6:15 p.m. with the evening’s events to begin at 7 p.m.

“Our mission is to connect Pennsylvania citizens to NASA resources and opportunities,” said Caitlin Teti, education coordinator for the Pennsylvania Space Grant Consortium. “With this event, we will not only celebrate the anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission but also will engage and inspire future generations to be excited about NASA’s work. Creating STEM opportunities that are equal parts exciting and educational for all members of the community and getting people interested about the past, present and future of space exploration is the best part of my job.”

Departments in the colleges of Agricultural SciencesEarth and Mineral SciencesEngineering, and the NASA Pennsylvania Space Grant Consortium are coordinating the event to highlight the importance of the Apollo 11 anniversary and STEM education.

More information is available at the 50th anniversary NASA Apollo 11 Rocket Launch webpage, The State Theatre’s webpage, or the PA Space Grant page or by contacting

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated July 17, 2019