Former and current astronauts will ride Corvettes — the car of choice by Mercury and Apollo astronauts– during a parade in downtown Cocoa Beach on Saturday as part of the kickoff to a round of events in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
Chris Ferguson, the last astronaut to pilot space shuttle Atlantis, will be among the astronauts riding in style. Ferguson will pilot the Boeing Starliner spacecraft as a private astronauts, possibly as soon as the end of this year to the International Space Station, along with two NASA astronauts.
The parade, hosted by the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, starts at 9:30 a.m. at Fourth Street North and will proceed south down Orlando Avenue and end at First Street South.
Families of Apollo astronauts will also appear in the parade riding in Teslas.
An outdoor afterparty starts at 11 a.m.
Astronauts have a long history with Corvettes, starting with the first American in space Alan Shepard.
All Mercury 7 astronauts received the sports cars through the Jim Rathmann Courtesy Car program for astronauts. Rathmann — the 1960 Indianapolis 500 Winner– owned a Chevrolet dealership not far from Cape Canaveral and leased astronauts Corvettes for as little as $1.
The Cape Kennedy Corvette Club, founded in 1967, included four astronauts, according to General Motors.
Neil Armstrong’s Corvette is in a garage not far from Kennedy Space Center launch pad 39A, from which he Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins launched to the moon in 1969.
Learn more about that history between astronauts and their fast cars here.
July 20 marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
“Florida’s Space Race: The Next Step,” airs July 16 on WKMG News 6 in honor of the 50th anniversary of the SaturnV/Apollo 11 launch. Visit ClickOrlando.com/moonlanding for more coverage.