That history, and the future of moon exploration, will be discussed and remembered at two events at Pasadena City College and JPL in honor of the 40th anniversary of the first moon walk.
On Friday at Pasadena City College Leon Alkalai will discuss the efforts of the international space agencies to explore the moon with both robotic and human missions planned within the next few years.
And today, JPL will host a look back on what it took to get to the moon the first time and how robots from the agency played an important role.
“I will be talking about robot support of the lunar landing,” said JPL historian Eric Conway.
He assumed that only about half of his audience was alive during the Apollo missions, so Conway said he would concentrate on some of the history leading to the moon landing and what role JPL played.
“JPL was responsible for two missions that paved the way to provide information,” said Michael Sander, manager of the exploration system technology office at JPL.
He was not with JPL during the Apollo mission, but followed the lab’s progress knowing some day he would be part of the exploration.
Sander remembers exactly where he was July 20, 1969.
“I had just gotten married and had moved into an apartment in South Pasadena. My wife and I propped our little black-and-white TV on a kitchen stool. That moment is etched in my memory,” he said.
A child of the Sputnik era, Sander had a strong interest in space exploration and wanted to be part of JPL. There have been several “oh wow” moments for him, including the recent landing of the Phoenix spacecraft on the polar cap of Mars.
“I still remember getting ready for that first spacecraft to Mars,” he said.