HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - The U.S. Space and Rocket Center continued its week-long celebration of the Apollo 11 mission, the Apollo program, and Huntsville's effort to get man to the moon Tuesday.
Shortly after the program began at 7 p.m., an isolated power outage occurred. Power was partially restored for a brief time while the band entertained the guests, but then went out a second time. It was restored and the program resumed before 8:15 p.m.
Huntsville Utilities confirmed that there were no outages reported on its end.
Tuesday marked the 50th anniversary of the Saturn V's historic launch toward the moon. The day began with another history-making launch: 5000 model rockets, scoring a Guinness World Record for the most model rockets ever launched at one time.
The Homecoming Dinner began at 6 p.m. complete with space celebrities, public officials, and the engineers and families of those who helped make Apollo 11 possible.
Tickets sold out as the event drew closer. WHNT News 19 is told those who will be in attendance include Apollo 15 astronaut Al Worden, Ed Gibson, and even the family of Werner Von Braun, the German rocket scientist who became Huntsville's hometown hero. They will join state and NASA Marshall Space Flight Center leaders, and sponsors including Intuitive Research, to highlight the work done right here in Huntsville to take us to the moon.
Scheduled speakers are, in order according to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center:
- Dr. Deborah Barnhart, CEO and Executive Director of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center
- Hal Brewer, Co-Founder and CEO of INTUITIVE® Research Technology, the Apollo 50 Golden Anniversary Sponsor
- Pastor Travis Collins, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church in Huntsville
- Alabama Governor Kay Ivey
- Jan Hess, President of Teledyne Brown, the Presenting Sponsor of the Apollo 11 Homecoming Dinner
- Jody Singer, Director of NASA Marshall Space Flight Center
- John Shannon, Boeing Vice President and Program Manager, SLS program, Huntsville. Boeing is the Signature Sponsor for the dinner
- Dr. Margrit von Braun, Professor Emerita University of Idaho and honorary chair of the Apollo 11 Golden Anniversary Celebration
A whole table was dedicated to the engineers, scientists and technicians, and all those who worked behind the scenes during that time to make the mission possible.
Astronauts said they are excited to see this energy and fervor, 50 years after Apollo 11.
Al Worden, Apollo 15 astronaut, said in an interview before the event, "If anybody watched the rocket launch this morning, there is absolutely no question that the excitement is back."
Jack Lousma, Skylab 4 and STS-3 astronaut, said he is familiar with Marshall Space Flight Center and Huntsville. "I had a lot of good friends with Skylab and other missions here, and it's good to see some of them are showing up now," he said.
Despite the power outage, the festivities went on following the break to pay homage to the area's history. The crowd knew NASA is charged with bringing man back to the lunar surface in 2024. And Marshall will again play a crucial role in the Space Launch System's development.
Harold Brewer, Intuitive Research and Technology Corp. Chairman, said, "What I'm hoping is this helps launch, pardon the pun, but helps launch Huntsville into doing more development in design and space exploration. We just have a legacy to build on."
So, while there is this time for celebration, there is also room for anticipation.
Worden said, "The 50th anniversary reminds us that we can do the impossible if we put our minds to it. And I think the 50th anniversary is the right time to be thinking of that."
It's all in the continued effort to remember the work done in Huntsville to take us where no man had gone before.