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Ed Buckbee reflects on moon landing anniversary, looks ahead to future missions

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — Flying 69 miles above the far side of the moon, out of contact with Earth and a world-wide audience holding its collective breath, Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin fired their lunar module’s main engine for 30 seconds to begin the first piloted descent to the moon’s surface.

It was July 20, 1969 – 45 years ago Sunday. Hundreds of people gathered at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville to reflect on the monumental landing.

“(Wernher) von Braun used to say, today’s work must be done today, and that was something we carried around with us,” said Ed Buckbee.

“He would also say failure is not an option,” he said. “We felt like we were a part of the crew going to the moon.” Buckbee was the first CEO of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. He was also an apprentice to Dr. Wernher von Braun when he was in his early 20’s.

He had a front row seat to the historic moment this day 45 years ago. He also had his doubts. “I look back at that moment of when Neil walked on the moon and I have to tell you, I really didn’t think we’d land the first time,” said Buckbee. “I thought we’d give a wave off or something would go wrong.”

Nothing went wrong. Buckbee told WHNT News 19 it was an accomplishment he often looks back on. He wants others to realize that it wasn’t just an American win, but a win for the entire human race. “The whole world joined us on that mission and we overlook that at times,” he said. “America led the world to another planet in our system.”

While America spearheaded the lunar landing, our great state and the Rocket City played a huge role in getting Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the moon. “Alabama does not get enough credit for the fact that we built the rocket that landed our astronauts on the moon and 12 Americans walked on the moon all because we provided the machine that got them there,” he said.

While we look back on that monumental day in history, Buckbee is looking ahead. He knows we’re on the verge of something just as great as those first steps on the moon.

“When we need to do it, Americans can make it happen and I’m looking forward to watching that Mars landing coming sometime in the future.”


  • Nuclear Mike

    Those “golden” years of NASA are now gone forever…and to think it took Nazi SS officers to get us there!

  • Snah Lemeorb

    It was German scientists who were responsible not NAZIS. The scientists of course didn’t care about human life when it came to a captive work force. Later Werner von Braun ran the whole show in Huntsville, AL using the aggregate rocket system which was already being worked on in Germany in 1933. The Saturn V was a fantastic piece of machinery which eventually brought our astronauts to the moon and back. There was no digital equipment available everything was analog and computers were totally primitive compared to the lowly yet sophisticated iPod which is found in many homes today.
    The Germans understood Goddard an American and studied his methods of possible space flight and rocketry.
    Unfortunately he was mocked in the US and such is history.

    • Nuclear Mike

      Yes…the “good” Germans who my Family had to go fight & die against for the removal of the NAZI Government that the “good” Germans put in place and Wernher was a commissioned NAZI SS Officer as were almost ALL were in the NAZI rocket program…who “allowed” slave labor to build the “good” German rocket program to murder England’s civilians with “goodness”.

    • Nuclear Mike

      …and remember the “good” Dr.Josef Mengele advanced medicine under the same “good” German Government directions as a NAZI SS Officer too…

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