LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR News) — July 20 marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. One Lynchburg man helped Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin make those first steps.
The President of the University of Lynchburg, Dr. Kenneth Garren, still has the mementos and memories from the historic milestone.
“As we talk, things pop back in my head that I probably had not thought about in 50 years,” he reflected.
Garren’s role in the Apollo mission was to craft an emergency plan should anything go wrong on the spacecraft.
“If you wanted to do it, you had to prove that it was safe,” said Garren. “In the later missions, when it got into the space shuttles, it was not the same. And the culture was, we’re going to do this and if you don’t want it done, you’re going to have to prove it won’t work.”
He was part of a team that detailed how a high altitude abort could be done if something were to go wrong.
Depending on the altitude and velocity, astronauts would only have 18 to 200 seconds to complete the maneuver.
“We found it with training that it could be done,” he commented.
One of his Apollo 11 mementos is a copy of his report — scribbled in red is a message from astronaut Buzz Aldrin.
“It was cute because when Buzz signed it he said glad we didn’t need this. And then he inserted to use. So it ends up glad we didn’t need to use this.”
He’s also looking forward to what the future may hold for space exploration.
“Because there’s so much out there in space that’s not known.”