Photo credit: Duran Duran rocket garden performance from Franchise Freedom light show.
APOLLO 50 TH GALA HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDED:
- Panel discussion with Apollo astronaut legends Michael Collins (Apollo 11), Charlie Duke (Apollo 16) and Rusty Schweickart (Apollo 9), along with Apollo Flight Director Gerry Griffin. Professor Brian Cox served as moderator. Thanks to sponsor Cisco Systems, Inc., the evening included remote contributors participating via Cisco Webex software. These included the original Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station engineers in Australia, who helped transmit the signal to the world of the first steps on the Moon on July 20, 1969, as well as former crew members from the USS Hornet, who helped recover the crew of Apollo 11 after their splashdown in the Pacific Ocean on July 24, 1969.
- Tributes were made to several individuals who are pioneering space and inspiring the next-generation workforce:
- Innovation Award Recipient: David Thompson, founder, president and CEO of Orbital Sciences Corporation (later known as Orbital ATK), the first company to air-launch an orbital vehicle, the Pegasus.
- Education Award Recipient: Dr. June Scobee Rodgers, founding chairman of the Challenger Center for Space Science Education, established in 1986 following the Space Shuttle Challenger accident to continue the legacy of the Challenger crew.
- Pioneer Award Recipient: JoAnn Morgan, first female engineer at NASA Kennedy Space Center and the only woman in the firing room during the launch of Apollo 11.
- Gala emcee and NBC TODAY Show co-host and weatherman Al Roker kept the evening moving with introductions to speakers, including Rick Armstrong, who gave a special tribute to his late father Neil Armstrong as his son Bryce Armstrong and girlfriend Mary Sharon sat nearby. Astrophysicist, author and science communicator Neil deGrasse Tyson celebrated his 60th birthday at the gala and gave remarks about 60 years of NASA and its impact on his life. Roker also cued up a special tribute to several unsung heroes of Apollo, including Edward Dwight, a former test pilot who was hand-picked by President Kennedy’s administration in 1961 to become the first African-American astronaut.
- An epic live performance by iconic British band, Duran Duran, and renowned artist duo Studio Drift, whose cutting-edge art performances integrate hundreds of Intel® Shooting StarTM drones. Gala guests were joined by thousands concert ticket holders in the beautifully lit Rocket Garden at KSCVC.
- Live and silent auctions with one-of-a-kind space memorabilia, including a signed watercolor painting by Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins.
- Premiere eyewear company, Rēvo, staged a one-of-a-kind photo opportunity prior to the Gala with astronauts Mike Collins, Charlie Duke and Rusty Schweikart and Apollo flight director Gerry Griffin, alongside Nancy Conrad, widow of late Apollo 12 astronaut Pete Conrad and founder of the Conrad Foundation.
- The star-studded guest list also included: Dorothy Duke (wife of Apollo astronaut Charlie Duke); Nancy Ramsey and Rusty Schweickart, Jr. (wife and son of Apollo astronaut Rusty Schweickart); Jan Aldrin (daughter of Buzz Aldrin) and her husband Bruce Hanifan; Kate Collins and Ann Collins Star (daughters of Michael Collins); Jack Roosa and Rosemary Roosa (son and daughter of Apollo astronaut Stu Roosa) and granddaughter Danielle; Robert (Bob) Cabana (Shuttle astronaut and director at NASA KSC); Shuttle astronauts Mark Kelly (with wife former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords), Julie Payette, Charlie Precourt, Robert Curbeam, Rick Mastracchio, Frank Culbertson, Leland Melvin and Winston Scott; and actors James Lafferty, Patrick J. Adams, Colin O’Donaghue and Jake McDorman.
The out-of-this-world celebration would not have been possible without the support of additional sponsors, including Delaware North Corporation, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, Cisco Webex and OAPV.
PHOTOS WILL BE ADDED TO THE PHOTO GALLERY SHORTLY