Cradle of the Cosmic Age - Atlas Obscura

Downey, California

Cradle of the Cosmic Age

Are you ready for some seriously stellar stuff?

Known as the "Cradle of the Cosmic Age," Downey was the center of manufacturing for the U.S. lunar space program in the 1960s. 

Join Atlas Obscura and Field Agent Benjamin Harmon on an expedition to Downey for a private, guided tour of the Columbia Memorial Space Center, a hands-on science museum located on the former manufacturing site of the Apollo Space program. During this exclusive tour led by the president and executive director, Ben Dickow, we'll discover aerospace artifacts and relics of the space program, explore the interactive space mission simulator, and learn more about the fascinating history of both the Space Center and the aerospace industry in Downey.

Also joining us is a former employee of the rocket industry, who will speak in depth about his time at the original site. Time permitting, we will have an opportunity to check out the Robotics Lab, where you can program your own robot and send it on a moon mission! After the tour of the space center we will cross the street and set foot in the abandoned Kaufmann Building, the last remaining structure from the original site (1936). The Kaufmann Building is part of what would become a 1-million-square-foot manufacturing and assembly plant, which also housed the dorms for visiting Apollo astronauts.

You don't wanna miss this one—it's totally out of this world! 


  • Meet outside the main entrance to the Space Center. Free parking is available in front of the Space Center and along Columbia Way.
  • Recommended for ages 12+. All minors must have a ticket and be accompanied by an adult. 
  • Please wear comfortable shoes and be prepared for two hours of standing and walking on the tour.
  • Bring your cameras and share your photos with us! Tag @atlasobscura #atlasobscura @columbiaspace
  • A liability waiver will need to be completed by all attendees. 


Email Benjamin Harmon at

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Advance tickets only. All sales final. No refunds or exchanges.