Apollo 11 50th anniversary highlights Huntsville’s space legacy

Published: Jul. 17, 2019 at 7:53 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - The Apollo 11 50th anniversary is being celebrated in many ways in Huntsville this week!

The Rocket City played a key role in the mission. As we remember the past, many are preparing for the future- returning to the moon and on to Mars.

Huntsville, once again, is playing a major role.

Robert Wright, Deputy Manager of Dynetics' Space Division, has been supporting space for more than three decades.

He's enjoyed celebrating the past accomplishments of NASA and he's excited about the future of space exploration, which Dynetics has a big hand in.

"On both the robotic and human lander system, we're working with commercial and NASA for development there. We're also working on the space launch system for the Artemis program that's going to take our astronauts back to the lunar surface," Wright explained. "We're working on the Universal Stage Adapter which with fly on the Block 1B along with Operation Upper Stage and that's the rocket that will really enable the lunar exploration to get humans and the cargo that we need to the surface."

It's the kind of work that put Huntsville on the map.

“Huntsville’s fingerprints are all over that Saturn V rocket. It’s a point of pride that really cemented our legacy as the Rocket City. That’s what we’re known for,” said Harrison Diamond, Huntsville Business Relations Officer.

It's also where great minds continue to innovate.

"The resources, the expertise, the talent is here in Huntsville to continue that to build on. More importantly for our nation, it's important for us to continue to explore," Wright added.

As Wright mentioned, Dynetics has secured three major contract wins for their lunar exploration architecture:

-Astrobotics’ Peregrine Lunar Lander: The Pittsburgh-based company chose Dynetics to provide the propulsion system. This commercial lander is scheduled to land on the Moon in 2020.

-NASA’s Artemis Program: Dynetics is one of eleven companies selected to study and build five descent stage prototypes for a new human lunar lander. The Artemis program is NASA’s plan to return to the Moon by 2024.

-Maxar’s plan for NASA’s Lunar Gateway: Maxar Technologies was awarded a contract to develop and demonstrate power, propulsion, and communication capabilities for NASA’s Lunar Gateway, a space station that will orbit the Moon. Dynetics will provide the power and propulsion element and will aid establishment of a sustainable presence on the celestial body.

Other anniversary events continue in Huntsville to mark the special anniversary.

"Being home to NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and you think about the impact that NASA has had on our community, all the way back to those early employees," Diamond said. "As much as we chime on our past and putting mankind on the moon, the next step is going back to the moon and going beyond it. That's been a wonderful theme for this week of celebrations."

On Friday night, there’s going to be the big “Dancing in the Streets” celebration. It starts at 5 at Big Spring Park and will go to the Downtown Square.

There will be musical performances themed to the last five decades and the lunar rover remade by Polaris will be part of the festivities.

"You cannot get to the moon or to Mars without going through Huntsville first. I think that's something we should all be proud of. Huntsville has a lot to look forward to over the next years as we use the SLS to further our role as a society of explorers," Diamond stated.

Here's a list of other events:

17 July, 12:00-2:00 pm, Discovery Theater (next to ticket counter of USSRC Museum), "Onboard Control System for the German A4/V2 Rocket" presented by Professor Bernd Ulmann from Frankfurt, Germany. The onboard control system for the A4/V2 rocket was developed by Dr Helmut Hoelzer, the father of the electronic analog computer and later MSFC's Director of Computation Lab for the Apollo Program.

17 July 2:30-4:30 pm, NatGeo Auditorium, Davidson Center for Space Exploration, USSRC, "Saturn Family of Launch Vehicles" led by Bill Sneed. Development and launch of Saturn I, IB and V rockets; what they were and what they did. The most powerful rockets of their time.

17 July, 6:30-9:00 pm, Saturn V Hall, USSRC, Aerospace States Association Annual Awards Dinner, Dr Edwin 'Buzz' Aldrin is scheduled to make the keynote address at the Aerospace States Association Awards Dinner. The public is invited to purchase tickets to this event. https://www.rocketcenter.com/calendar/2019-07-17/aerospace-states-association-annual-awards-dinner

*New* 18 July, 11:30-1:00 pm, The Westin Hotel at Bridge Street Towne Center, Huntsville "The Voyage to the Moon: Small Steps and Giant Leaps" presented by Brooks Moore and sponsored by the North Alabama Chapter of IFMA (International Facility Management Association). Sign up for this networking lunch ($20) NLT 15 July at http://ifmanorthalabama.org/

18 July, 5:30 pm, Saturn V Hall, USSRC, "Space Authors Book Signing & Reception" Local writers sell & sign copies of space-related books, supported by a reception.

18 July, 6:00-8:00 pm, Huntsville Main Public Library, "How We Really Got to the Moon: Leadership Secrets of the Apollo Program" presented by Ralph Petroff.

19 July, 6:00-9:00 pm, downtown Huntsville "Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Dancing in the Streets" Dance in the streets alongside the Polaris-produced Lunar Rover replica, enjoy musical performances and a projection experience; no admission charged. Free parking in Monroe Street parking deck. https://www.huntsville.org/event/apollo-11-50th-anniversary-dancing-in-the-streets/36075/

20 July, 2:30-4:30 pm, NatGeo Auditorium, Davidson Center for Space Exploration, USSRC, "Apollo 11 – America's First Landing on the Moon" presentation

20 July, start arriving at 6:00 pm, event starts at 7:00 pm, outside Saturn V Hall, USSRC, “Moon Landing Concert” Cost is $20 per person. Celebrate the anniversary of the day Neil Armstrong took his historic first step on the Moon. https://www.rocketcenter.com/calendar/2019-07-20/moon-landing-concert

20 July, 7-7:30 PM 30 pm airing on WAFF Channel 48 News, Special Report by Liz Hurley "People of Apollo"

21 July, 11:00 am service, "Lunar Communion" Monte Sano United Methodist Church, 601 Monte Sano Blvd SE, Huntsville, AL 35801. Take part in this spiritual remembrance and service recognizing the Apollo 11 Moon landing. Guest speaker Margrit von Braun, daughter or Wernher von Braun.

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