NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Fifty years ago today, Apollo 11 lifted off into outer space and landed in the history books.

There’s no shortage of commemorating and celebrating the monumental mission, and CBSN New York’s Vanessa Murdock was at one of them.

From the long walk to the Saturn 5 rocket to stepping on the moon, the Apollo 11 mission captivated Americans and curated hope.

The mission it was a mindset a mindset of hope that exploration can live forever

CBS2’s Vanessa Murdock spoke with NASA’s Jim Garvin who was just a young boy when three American men set out to do the impossible.

“We were cheering like someone won the Super Bowl,” said Garvin, who is now NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center chief scientist.

The crew lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on July 16, 1969, at 9:32 a.m.

A day later, the astronauts sent their first transmission back to earth.

On July 20, Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon with millions of people watching. He uttered the now famous phrase, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

On July 24, the astronauts returned home after splashing into the Pacific Ocean.

Celebrating Apollo 11’s 50th Anniversary

Learning From The Past For The Future

Now 50 years later, Americans are celebrating all over again with festivities happening across the country.

On the deck of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, inside the Space Shuttle Pavillion and under the Enterprise, students from the Goals for Girls STEM program heard from former astronaut Timothy Kopra.

“I hope you can find some inspiration from what heroes did,” he said. “My heroes did what these pioneers did and what we continue to do in space.”

They also Skyped with others at Space Center Houston to commemorate and recreate the countdown.

“It’s kind of surreal, if you think about it these are the pioneers that led space exploration, we wouldn’t be where we are today without them,” said 14-year-old Tatyana Cruz.

“It’s very interesting to me,” said 14-year-old Stephanie Pisarevskiy. “Humans evolved from such a small organism ‘til now and how far we’ve come.”

“We’re at the cusp of a new exciting phase in space exploration,” said William Harris, president and CEO of the Space Center in Houston. “Much more exciting things lie ahead for humanity.”

“I’m hoping in the next 20 to 30 years we’ll have a presence on mars, that’s my dream,” said Garvin.

Before then, NASA plans to send the first woman to walk on the moon. That mission, “Artemis,” is slated for 2024 and is already inspiring young minds.

“I think that’s really cool that we’re taking a step forward,” said 15-year-old future space traveler Kate Lo.

Apollo 11 Celebration Events Around New York City