Local Students Recreate Apollo 11 Moon Landing

Emily Cicchini’s son, Remi, is fascinated with the idea of exploring our final frontier.

“When I was 8, I got a space suit for Christmas, and I’ve always been interested in the concept of going to space and doing something important with my life,” said Remi.

So when Emily and Remi were looking for summer activities, they checked the NASA website, where they found the Apollo Next Giant Leap Student (ANGLeS) Competition.

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This year’s ANGLeS Competition was conceived to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. The challenge, open to students in grades 5-12 across the United States and territories, is to recreate the Apollo 11 moon landing using a drone and a LEGO Mindstorm robot. 

Emily and Remi decided to assemble a team of Dripping Springs Middle School students to participate in the challenge. 

“We are inspired and humbled by the success of the Apollo 11 astronauts and scientists, and are looking forward to seeing NASA continue to reach for the stars for years to come.  It’s thrilling to be even a small part of this important work,” said Emily.

Members of the Marvelous Earthling Moon Explorers (M.E.M.E.) Team are:

Commander:  Ethan Miller, 14
Lunar Module Pilot:  Remi Cicchini, 14
EVA Officer:  Macallister (Mackey) Weikert, 13
Science Officer:  Cosimo Crespi, 13
CAPCOM:  Reese Alford, 13

Remi said that the group of friends has worked well together.

“There’s a great synergy on this team, which has helped us get things done pretty quickly and easily.”

The M.E.M.E. Team has to complete a sequence of tasks that mirror the original mission of the Apollo 11 landing team, from designing and building a lander and a rover, to using coding skills to pilot the lander.

“Our main obstacle is time,” said Emily. “We must start, complete the mission, and return to base within 15 minutes. If we are successful, we may be invited to participate at the regional and national levels.”

In the spring, Emily saw a presentation that the Science Mill gave about the Mill’s summer programs, and decided to reach out about a collaboration. Bob Elde, Science Mill Science Director, and Portia Marchman, Science Mill Director of Operations, were excited to host the students and be part of the ANGLeS Competition. M.E.M.E team members have been meeting at the Mill to develop their lander and rover, and to practice the mock moon landing.

“We’re always looking for ways to get involved with our community and support students who are seeking out STEM related activities outside of the classroom,” said Marchman.

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 On June 22, the M.E.M.E. Team is participating in the Science Mill’s Drones & Droids event. They are going to fly their drone-based lander about 20 feet to a target on a map of the lunar surface. Next, they will pilot a droid-like rover to deposit a payload of a cultural artifact and pick up a sample moon rock, followed by returning to base where the Science Officer, Cosimo Crespi, will identify the rock sample.

 “We’re a little nervous,” said Remi. “If we don’t take it seriously, that leaves room for error, and we want it to go well so we can go on to the next round. This Saturday is going to be a trial by fire.”

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 Join us on Saturday, June 22 to watch this incredible team reenact the Apollo 11 landing. To show his support, former NASA Astronaut Tom Henricks will be in attendance to meet the M.E.M.E. team and watch their moon landing demo. Meet Mr. Henricks and R2-D2, as well! All event details can be found on our website.

Drones & Droids activities and presentations are free with admission. Share your photos at the Science Mill with us! #sciencemill #dronesanddroids #explorejctx