Yesterday at Kennedy Space Center among the many celebrations for the 45th anniversary of the first human landing on the Moon, there was a ceremony that honored Neil Armstrong renaming after him a historic building in the Center so far known as the Operations and Checkout Building. It was there that Armstrong and the other astronauts of the Apollo 11 mission got ready for launch.
Neil Armstrong passed away almost two years ago and many people seem to have forgotten the dream of expanding the final frontier of mankind. Others, however, keep on working to bring humans into space, even beyond the Moon. Today, in the Operations and Checkout Building they’re building Orion, NASA’s next generation spacecraft, the one that is supposed to once again bring NASA astronauts beyond low Earth orbit, and this time even beyond the Moon.
The Operations and Checkout Building was built in 1964 and over the decades has been used in various ways for the Gemini missions, for the Apollo missions and for the Space Shuttles ones. Renaming that building was fitting because of its history, including its use during the Apollo 11 mission.
The Operations and Checkout Building renaming ceremony was directed by NASA’s administrator Charles Bolden. Next to him were the director of the Kennedy Space Center Robert Cabana, the other Apollo 11 astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Mike Collins and the mission’s backup commander Jim Lovell, who later commanded the Apollo 13 mission.
During the ceremony, Charles Bolden unveiled an Apollo 11 mission patch that was carried to the Moon and later autographed by the astronauts. It will be held in a frame up to the time in which the first manned mission to Mars will be launched. At that point, the patch will be brought to Mars to celebrate the next giant leap for mankind.
Now the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building celebrates the memory of the first man to set foot on the Moon. For NASA and for anyone working to bring humans into space this memory must be an incentive to keep on taking all the small steps that will eventually lead to a giant leap.