2020 Excellence in Immersive and Emerging Technology Storytelling finalist

50th Anniversary: “Apollo 11: America’s Journey To The Moon”

An Augmented Reality (AR) Experience


About the Project

USA TODAY and FLORIDA TODAY partner to bring audiences two new interactives, incorporating live stream video of historic broadcasts; Will include pop-up event with The Smithsonian Institution on July 20th during live broadcast

USA TODAY NETWORK celebrates the 50th anniversary of the historic U.S. moon landing with a two-part augmented reality (AR) experience in the USA TODAY mobile app and the NETWORK’s first dedicated AR app, 321 Launch.

USA TODAY and FLORIDA TODAY collaborated to bring consumers an eight-day live AR broadcast focusing on six historical events from our nation’s inaugural moon landing. From liftoff to landing, users will get to view the mission in real-time just as it happened 50 years ago. USA TODAY’s emerging technology team created the virtual assets and media is sourced from NASA for the app update featuring the Apollo 11 mission. It will be available to download on July 4, and the live broadcasts begin on July 16 with new content launching through July 24.

Separately, on July 9, an AR interactive will be featured in the USA TODAY mobile app telling the story of the hardware and technology that was used by NASA for the Apollo 11 mission. Narrated by FLORIDA TODAY, users will learn about every stage of the Saturn V launch sequence, details of the command and lunar modules, and see how it all came together to take three astronauts to the moon.

“321 Launch was first shared with consumers over a year ago bringing AR to audiences across USA TODAY NETWORK and we’re excited to expand the app to celebrate this historical event,” said Ray Soto, director of emerging technology, Gannett | USA TODAY NETWORK. “Through our ability to collaborate, we’re able to incorporate FLORIDA TODAY’s space expertise into augmented reality to make this a cutting-edge experience for users.”

Additionally, in 321 Launch users have had the ability to watch more than 20 rocket launches using telemetry data, which generates a predictive flight path so users can follow speed, acceleration, and altitude live in AR.

The AR interactives will be available in 321 Launch beginning July 4, 2019 and in the USA TODAY app beginning July 9. For FLORIDA TODAY’s special commentative content starting early July, visit Additionally, USA TODAY will demonstrate the live broadcast experience at the Smithsonian’s Castle on July 20 in Washington, D.C. from 12 – 5 PM ET. For more information, visit