Visitors will fly to moon in new Patriots Point exhibit

Visitors to Patriots Point's Apollo 8 exhibit will be able to simulate the 1968 ride in this capsule.

Patriots Point visitors will soon be able to "fly" to the moon.

An "interactive and immersive" exhibit and capsule flight simulation based on the Apollo 8 mission will open at Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum on Sunday, the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Guests can experience the sights and sounds of lunar travel at the exhibit. They'll be strapped into a capsule as astronauts were, hear radio from the 1968 mission and view video of the takeoff and the original crew's views from outer space.

When their "mission" is complete, visitors will feel as if their capsule is plunging into the Pacific Ocean, as the original Apollo 8 did, and see images taken from the aircraft carrier Yorktown, now docked at Patriots Point, as it recovered the three-man crew.

The Apollo 8 was the first human spaceflight mission to orbit the moon and the second mission in the Apollo program of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

"These men were first to orbit the moon. They paved the way for the Apollo 11's landing seven months later," Mac Burdette, executive director of Patriots Point, said in a release. "We want this exhibit to be a tribute to their dedication and success. It is also another step in bringing our museum to life."

The exhibit is part of a recent push to become a high-tech visitor attraction within the next year. Patriots Point's board recently approved a 26 percent budget increase to $12 million for the coming fiscal year. Improvements to the museum's dining room, engine room and Vietnam War exhibit are planned, and Patriots Point has a projected revenue of $11 million next year.

Reach Amanda Coyne at 937-5592 or on Twitter at @AmandaCCoyne.