HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — As the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 mission approaches, WHNT News 19 is reflecting on several individuals who played a part in making it all happen.
The space administration has grown and changed over the years and a few lucky individuals got to see NASA in its first years.
For many people at the time going to the moon was a farfetched idea. Some just didn’t believe it was possible.
Stan Reinartz, Retired NASA Special Projects Manager, said his mother even questioned how scientists could make it happen. But for him, to see man go where he had never been before, made everything worthwhile.
Reinartz said as a young boy he really didn’t have a dream job. “I really had no specific plan, I grew up in a steel town in Kentucky,” he said.
He was supposed to follow in his family members footsteps, become a steelworker or a pastor.
But what he would go on to help accomplish defied all odds.
Reinartz studied engineering in college, then joined the army.
But the career move to follow shocked even him.
“After a couple months at Aberdeen proving ground, here I was in Huntsville, which I didn’t even know Redstone Arsenal existed because I was not into really the space activities at that time,” he explained.
And that move came with adjustments.
“I told my wife, we’ll spend a couple years here and move on. A couple years has become 62 years,” he explained. “When Kennedy said we`re going to go to the moon, we had to come up with very specific plans and activities to do that.”
Reinartz said that was his role with the Apollo program.
“You had to go find the answers to, am I doing the right design. So you test it, and Von Braun that was his philosophy to test and test and test again,” said Reinartz.
It wasn’t the career path he planned, but one that helped launch the U.S. into the space race.
“It was exciting work, difficult work.”
Reinartz says during his time with the Apollo program, he grew close to Werhner Von Braun.
He said what he most admired about the historic icon is that he focused on solutions, not problems.