“I was glued to a television, I was listening to the radio," said Curt Breneman, Dean of Science at RPI.
Breneman remembers it well.
“The memories are fresh in a lot of peoples minds and these images don’t feel like ancient history," said Breneman.
The Dean of Science at RPI was 13 years old when Apollo 11 landed on the moon. The historic mission turned Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin into household names.
"It was a majesty, a victory, essentially of science and technology," said Breneman.
But the mission may never have been successful if not for another name — one a little less popular, but just as important.
“I didn’t realize it at the time, but some of the images of mission control showed George Low sitting right there," said Breneman.
Low, who served as president of RPI from 1976 to 1984, was responsible for the redesign of the Apollo spacecraft following the Apollo 1 fire. Low managed several Apollo missions and was eventually named deputy administrator of NASA.
Inside the Low Gallery at RPI are several pieces of memorabilia including a letter from President Ronald Reagan to Lowe, congrulating him when the first space shuttles were tested.
“I’m very proud that the George Low Gallery is here so that others can appreciate some of the things that went it making George the man he was," said Breneman.
The exhibit, finished in 2002, does just that, serving as a reminder of the former RPI alumnus and president’s enormous contributions to NASA, especially after the tragic Apollo 1 fire that killed three astronauts in 1967.
“That was a period the Apollo program could have ended easily, and it didn’t it because of the thoroughness his team [showed in analyzing] what went wrong," said Breneman.
Several astronauts have graduated from RPI. And on July 21, an RPI research team is leading an experiment on the International Space Station, where they will study the dynamics of serious diseases.