The 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11: Celebrations taking place for mankind's first step on the moon
Updated 19:26, 21-Jul-2019
Two US astronauts first walked on the moon 50 years ago. This 'giant leap for mankind' remains one of humanity's greatest achievements. There are many celebrations taking place to mark the anniversary, including events in Houston, Texas, home of America's Apollo program. CGTN's Hendrik Sybrandy reports.
On July 20th, 1969, Apollo 11 astronauts reached a historic mark in the journey to man's next frontier of space, the surface of the moon. 
WILLIAM HARRIS CEO, SPACE CENTER HOUSTON "This really made it tangible and real and accessible I think for people around the world."
William Harris heads NASA's Space Center Houston. Where that miraculous moment, that huge scientific achievement is being remembered exactly 50 years later.
GENE KRANZ FLIGHT DIRECTOR, APOLLO 11 "Think about this, we're 50 years into this business. I don't feel 50 years older. It's an honor to be here, an honor to be representing my mission control teams."
Apollo 11 Flight Director Gene Kranz is one of those connected with the landmark mission who've returned this weekend to honor, among others, the dozen Apollo astronauts who ended up walking on the moon.
BARBARA LOVELL HARRISON APOLLO 13 ASTRONAUT'S DAUGHTER "I think of our fathers as being those early explorers, Columbus and all of those different men and women, who discovered new worlds."
The Apollo program is really celebrated year-round at the space center. Witness the moon rocks that are always on display. In fact, parts of this complex, where astronauts trained and worked, appear frozen in time.
HENDRIK SYBRANDY HOUSTON "This is Mission Operations Control Room 2 the way it looked back in 1969. It's been immaculately restored to its original condition. Minus of course the cigarette, cigar and pipe smoke."
But including the map that fixed the moonwalkers' exact locations, the flowers that mysteriously showed up before each mission and the coffee pot that fueled the intense work that went on here.
TOM SCOTT MISSION CONTROL HOST "It was really important that we bring this room to life."
It's time now, many space enthusiasts say, to re-fire those exploratory engines that powered an eight-year lunar sprint back then, starting with a return trip to the moon.
JACK BURNS PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO "It's the place we can get to. It's the one place we can explore easily."
Astronomer Jack Burns' goal is to place two radio telescopes on the lunar surface. He says today's advanced technology will allow us to use the moon as a stepping-stone to Mars.
JACK BURNS PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO "In going to the moon this time, what we're going to be doing is we're really going to be taking Silicon Valley with us."
No need, Harris says, for Cold War-style competition to drive our efforts.
WILLIAM HARRIS CEO, SPACE CENTER HOUSTON "It's not a reaction to something that was a perceived threat or a race against another nation, it's really about greater insight, learning, innovation and the opportunities it presents."
POPPY NORTHCUTT EX-NASA ENGINEER "I'm thrilled to have space back in the conversation."
Poppy Northcutt, NASA's first female engineer during the Apollo days, says the public's fascination with space hasn't gone away but she worries about America's political will and funding for endeavors like the proposed Artemis moon mission in 2024.
POPPY NORTHCUTT EX-NASA ENGINEER "We can get together, we can have a common goal, we can achieve great things if we have common goals, so maybe we should get another common goal."
It's worth considering, she says, half a century after the seemingly impossible became reality another world away. Hendrik Sybrandy, CGTN, Houston.