On anniversary of Apollo 11 mission, Memphis man remembers his role as NASA flight controller

Memphis man remembers role as NASA flight controller during Apollo 11 mission

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - This weeks marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, which landed humans on the moon for the first time.

A Memphis man helped make that mission possible.

Bill Weppner worked in mission control as a NASA flight controller during the Apollo 11 mission, which launched July 16, 1969.

“We were not only a team, we were a fraternity,” said Weppner. “We had something special going. We were doing what very few other people had the privilege of doing.”

Weppner was at work the moment Neil Armstrong took his famous first steps on the moon.

He said mission control celebrated that moment but didn’t carry on too long.

"On the one hand, we were thrilled that, that part of the mission was successful. On the other hand, we had to be prepared for some eventualities that fortunately didn't occur," said Weppner.

Weppner moved on from NASA after Apollo 13.

These days, he visits places like the Pink Palace museum, sharing his story with younger generations.

“It’s absolutely amazing,” said Luke Ramsey, manager of public and special programs at Pink Palace. “It’s one thing to see the rocket take off, maybe see those iconic minutes of Neil Armstrong coming down on the moon, but to learn all about the nuts and bolts and the kind of complicated scientific techniques that went into making that possible, is really mind-blowing.”

The Pink Palace has a new interactive space exhibit to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission.

Weppner, who will reunite with former NASA officials this weekend in Houston to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, hopes the Apollo missions will continue to inspire for generations to come.

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