Astronauts reflect on Apollo moon missions in Cocoa Beach

4 astronauts reflect on Apollo moon missions in Cocoa Beach

By Erik Sandoval - Reporter

COCOA BEACH, Fla - Four legends from the Apollo space missions gathered ahead of Tuesday night's 50th anniversary gala to reflect on what it meant to make history.

Apollo 11 astronaut Mike Collins, Apollo 16 astronaut Charlie Duke, Apollo 9 astronaut Rusty Schweickart and Apollo flight director Gerry Griffin met with a small group of reporters, which included News 6 and clickorlando.com.

"President Kennedy's speech at Rice University -- his ability to articulate that challenge in such a dramatic and straightforward way, that was really impressive to me, said Schweickart. 

"I never heard anybody say that I’m going to be famous next year after this," said Duke. "Nobody ever thought about that."

All agreed that space travel and space exploration would be much more advanced than it is today if it weren't for the tightening of NASA's budget by Congress.

They said they're hoping new federal money will help fuel new exploration and imagination.

They also said NASA's sights need to be bigger than just the moon -- they said they're thinking Mars.

"When I came back from Apollo 11, I used to joke that they sent me to the wrong place," said Collins.

"NASA should stand for the National Aeronautics Mars Administration."

They agreed it's NASA's role to explore space.

When it comes to tourism and ferrying items to the International Space Station, that should be up to commercial space companies.

They said that includes tourism.

"I certainly think so. I think it’ll happen," said Griffin. "I think people are going to get a view of the Earth that these guys got. I’m ready to go, as a matter fact. Take me. Take me."
 

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