Former NASA employee remembers Apollo 11 takeoff

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAAY) - It's been 45 years to the day that Apollo 11 lifted off; headed for the moon; and the history books.

"Huntsville should be very proud of the fact that we put Americans on the moon,” says Ed Buckbee, a former NASA Employee who saw Apollo 11 take off.

Ed Buckbee remembers that day, 45 years ago, that America made history.

"I was at the cape, working in the press room, and we had about a thousand members of the press swarming over the cape,” says Buckbee. "But when that big bird lifted off, and we heard mission control say "you're go for trans-lunar insertion", we knew our three guys were going to the moon. And that was a special feeling for everybody."

He says while many associate the moon landing with Houston, the crew never would have made it to the moon without Huntsville.

"Huntsville, Alabama was really the main designer and manufacturer of that machine, Saturn Five, the moon rocket, so we were very proud, and we had that clean liftoff and our guys were on their way to the moon,” says Buckbee.

After years of development right here in Huntsville, Wernher von Braun and his team had put together a rocket that could land on the moon.

"Von Braun and the rocket team played a major role in making that big machine work. And we did it within eight years, from scratch. You know, we started in 61, Alan Shepherd flight, we started developing the moon rocket. I watched test firings here in the 60's, over 40 test firings were made of that booster, making sure it worked."

Buckbee's hoping space history doesn't end at the moon.

"So my dream, as I speak to space campers now, I remind them, we're trying to keep the dream alive of space flight, and you guys and gals gotta take us to Mars, and that's the dream I'm living and hopefully that will happen."

The U.S. Space and Rocket Center will be holding special events all weekend in honor of the moon landing. Click here for a schedule of events.