NASA celebrates 60th anniversary

HOUSTON – Sixty years of NASA discovery, exploration and innovation have been summed up in a 60-second video released by NASA. It chronicles the beginning of space exploration and our first moon landing nearly 50 years ago through today’s missions on the International Space Station.

"It is still the longest, most ambitious, most successful first test flight of any new flying machine ever,” said Apollo VII astronaut Walt Cunningham of his mission that paved the way to later moon missions. He opened the anniversary celebrations at Space Center Houston Friday night. 

"It turns out that it was probably the most critical mission that you could ever have, as some of the public was talking about withdrawing support to go to the moon and what have you," Cunningham said. "It was not a social activity. We were out to beat the Russians, and they were out to beat us."

The original mission control consoles that guided Cunningham’s flight are being refurbished and will soon return to the Johnson Space Center in time for the 50th anniversary of the moon landing in July of next year.

"Our goal is to restore the space. Take it back to the 1960s so you could get a sense of what it was like in the innovation of space to transport humans for the first time to the lunar surface and safely back to Earth again," said Space Center Houston President William Harris.

In honor of NASA’s 60th anniversary, there is an art display celebrating space exploration. It includes work by Annie Leibovitz, Andy Warhol and other famous artists.  It will be on display until early next year.

"Space is the great frontier. People around the world are pursuing space exploration. America has always been a leader in this effort, and we continue to be and will be going to the future," Harris said about the celebration at Space Center Houston.