NASA celebrated the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 crew’s successful moon landing with a series of events this past weekend.
Neil Armstrong was the first person to step on the moon after the lunar module Eagle landed on its surface on July 20, 1969, claiming his “small step for man” to be “one giant leap for mankind,” according to PC Magazine. Armstrong was followed by fellow astronaut Buzz Aldrin, while Michael Collins, the third member of the crew, was in the command module Columbia orbiting above them.
The landing was celebrated by the space agency this past weekend with exhibits and discussions at the Intrepid Space and Science Festival in New York City. NASA said it also replayed “restored footage of Armstrong and Aldrin’s historic steps on the lunar surface.”
Armstrong died in 2012 at the age of 82, and NASA renamed its flight research center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., in honor of him. The agency also used Monday as an opportunity to officially rename the Kennedy Space Center’s spacecraft processing facility the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building, CBS News reported.
Aldrin and Collins attended NASA’s celebration and shared memories of Armstrong. Expedition 40 commander Steve Swanson and flight engineer Reid Wiseman also attended and gave their congratulations.
“There are heroes that I’ve had my entire life, known these names every day I’ve lived,” said Wiseman, who was born in 1975, six years after the Apollo 11 landing. “I just want to say an enormous thank you. Thank you for putting our country on this path that we remain on today. Without you gentlemen, I wouldn’t be up here today. So my dreams came true, thanks to them.”
NASA will also hold a Comic-Con Panel dubbed “NASA’s Next Giant Leap” on Thursday at 6 p.m. Eastern Time, which will mark the 45th anniversary of Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins’ return to Earth after the landing.
The panel will be moderated by actor Seth Green and will feature Aldrin, NASA Planetary Science Division director Jim Green, NASA astronaut Mike Fincke, and JPL systems engineer Bobak Ferdowsi, a.k.a “Mohawk Guy” from the broadcast of the Mars Curiosity rover landing in 2012. Topics for discussions at the panel include the Orion spacecraft’s development and the Space Launch System rocket, which NASA plans to use for launching crew missions to Mars and other destinations in space.