NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Children on Sunday got the chance to meet some of the people who made space exploration possible.
As CBS 2’s Janelle Burrell reported, the 45th anniversary of the very first step on the moon was celebrated Sunday at the Space and Science Festival at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.
The Apollo 11 Moon Landing on July 20, 1969 was an event forever forged in history. Nervousness turned to elation as Neil Armstrong took that very first step on the moon.
“The excitement was really just palpable. I was there with my model following along, and it was just wonderful,” said NASA volunteer Frank O’Brien.
O’Brien, who was 13 at the time, was inspired by the Apollo 11 landing to become an electrical engineer and a NASA volunteer.
Mario Runco also remembered the event, and years later he would become an astronaut himself.
“It was what set off our space exploration,” he said.
Runco was part of the crowd at the Intrepid on Sunday for the festival, celebrating the anniversary with kids who would not be born for many years at the time of the Apollo 11 mission, but who shared the same awe and wonder that they did decades later.
“I think it’s really cool,” said Megan Paldino of Mamaroneck.
“I want to be a scientist,” said Shannon Paldino of Mamaroneck.
“It’s so exciting for me,” Runco said of the children’s responses. “The little kids are excited. Some are really tuned in.”
Of course, space exploration has evolved quite a bit since 1969, and now, NASA is all about moving forward.
“What we’re working on now is we’re going to go back to the moon, to asteroids, and eventually to Mars,” said NASA scientist Jeremy Parsons,” so it’s 45 years since our last giant leap, and now we’re moving to our next giant leap.”
Ewing, New Jersey high school student Brian Morton-Salley, who helped design a robot that was demonstrated at the museum, hopes to be part of the leap.
“It really intrigues me,” Morton-Salley said, “and I just want to see what else is surrounding us, because I realize just how small this planet is.”
Runco said it is all about inspiring the next generation.
“If you capture their imagination beyond where they already are, you’ve earned your pay for the week, so to speak, that’s what it’s really all about,” he said.
The Space and Science Festival is a five-day event that wrapped up Sunday. This was the third year that the Intrepid has hosted the festival.
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