NASA's Johnson Space Center celebrates 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 launch

Exactly 50 years ago on July 16, 1969, Apollo 11 launched from Cape Kennedy on the mission that would bring the first man to the moon.

While Apollo 11 was lifting off in Florida, flight controllers were in Houston at NASA's mission control, making sure everything went smoothly from liftoff to landing.

The NASA community had several celebrations in Houston to commemorate the 50th anniversary of liftoff.

Fifteen of the original flight controllers who helped get Apollo 11 to the moon had lunch with members of the public and reminisced about that successful liftoff.

“This 50th event is actually allowing a lot of these people to enjoy it, because they probably enjoyed it, but they didn’t get to enjoy it like they are now,” said Larry Schmitt, an Apollo 11 flight controller.

“We got through with Apollo 11," said William Moon, an Apollo 11 flight controller. "Coming up is Apollo 12. We were doing sims the next day probably.”

The luncheon was held at Space Center Houston, and nearby NASA's Johnson Space Center held a big 50th celebration for current and former NASA employees, complete with a '60s and '70s era car parade.

The former director of Johnson Space Center spoke about the next moon mission.

"One where we can go to the moon and stay, and I have every confidence you all can make it happen," said George Abbey, former director of Johnson Space Center.

NASA’s Houston-based Orion Program is currently designing and testing the next spacecraft to bring humans to the moon. This spring the Trump administration directed the Space Agency to do that moon mission in 2024.