NASA’s Apollo 11 crew landed on the moon July 20, 1969. The world watched 45 years ago as astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set their lunar module Eagle down in the Sea of Tranquility, while crewmate Michael Collins orbited above in the command module Columbia. NASA commemorated Armstrong’s “one giant leap for mankind” through a number of events this week across, and above, the United States, as well as on the agency’s website and NASA Television.
On Monday, July 21, at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, NASA renamed of the center’s Operations and Checkout Building in honor of Neil Armstrong, who passed away in 2012. The renaming ceremony included NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, Kennedy Center Director Robert Cabana, and Apollo 11’s Collins, Aldrin and astronaut Jim Lovell, who was the mission’s back-up commander. International Space Station NASA astronauts Steve Swanson, who is the current station commander, and Reid Wiseman, took part in the ceremony from their orbiting laboratory 260 miles above Earth.
Kennedy’s Operations and Checkout Building has played a vital role in NASA’s spaceflight history. It was used during the Apollo program to process and test the command, service and lunar modules. Today, the facility is being used to process and assemble NASA’s Orion spacecraft, which the agency will use to send astronauts to an asteroid in the 2020s and Mars in the 2030s.
Two Phi Delt astronauts took a minute to comment on this significant Dedication.
“Not only was Neil a Brother in the Bond and a good friend, he was an instrumental player in perhaps the greatest achievement in the history of mankind. Little did I know, that as I was huddled around a small black and white TV in 1969 with my fellow Navy fighter pilots, watching Apollo 11 unfold, I would have the opportunity in less than 10 years later to become associated with my fellow Navy test pilot, fraternity brother and idol in the astronaut corps. I am lucky and blessed.”
– Jon McBride, West Virgina ’64, Phi Delta Theta Foundation Trustee, NASA Astronaut
“The Armstrong Building at KSC is a wonderful place, a place that embraces the heart and soul of everything at “The Cape.” It is a significant and joyful honor for Neil and so well deserved. Neil is my hero, but he was also a dear friend, a neighbor and a warm home for my kids to visit.”
– F. Story Musgrave, Syracuse ’58, NASA Astronaut