COCOA BEACH, Fla. — This week, Several Apollo mission legends got together this week to reflect on an achievement many thought impossible.
- Special panel held in Cocoa Beach with Apollo mission legends
- Apollo 9 pilot: Moon landing wasn't just for US but for the world
- COMPLETE COVERAGE: Apollo 11 mission celebrates 50 years this week
On the Cocoa Beach panel were Charlie Duke, Apollo 11's mission's capsule communicator; Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins; Rusty Schweickart, Apollo 9 astronaut; and Gerry Griffin, an Apollo 11 flight director.
Griffin said he knew that what they were doing was unique and important, but he didn't realize it enough.
"The fact that 50 years later, we would have this kind of reaction, (I) should have thought about it. But I didn't have time," Griffin said.
Schweickart was the lunar module pilot for Apollo 9, the first crewed mission. He said the moon landing wasn't just an American effort, but one for the world.
"(It's) a fascination with the stars, a sense that we should be going out there. It was not just the United States, it was universal," Schweickart said.
Collins was busy taking the steps it took to get to the moon, many years before that historic step was taken.
"What about the so and so, are we prepared to do the next burn?" Collins recalled.
Meanwhile, Duke, as CAPCOM, was the voice of mission control, talking to the three-member crew as the days turned into hours, then minutes, and finally seconds after the Eagle landed.
"We were very positive about success," Duke said. "I never saw anyone wringing their hands saying, 'What are we doing this for?'"
The efforts of the panelists contributed to the success of humankind's first step beyond Earth's orbit.
The moon landing happened July 20, 1969 at 10:56 p.m. EST.