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Apollo 11 Anniversary: San Diego contributions to historic space flight

San Diego companies helped Apollo 11 launch, land
Posted at 8:06 AM, Jul 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-19 11:06:25-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - As the country celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, people in San Diego are looking back at how companies in this city helped NASA achieve the historic flight.

You could argue that, if not for San Diego, the moon landing would never have gotten off the ground, or landed safely on the moon.

Ryan Aeronautical Company built the lunar radar system that helped guide the lunar lander as it touched down on the moon's surface.

General Dynamics built the Atlas Rockets that took some of the flights into outer-space.

"They didn't take them all the way up to the moon with the Atlas, but they helped set the stage to move forward to doing it," says San Diego Air and Space Museum Marketing Director David Neville.

The museum has an Atlas Rocket on display at Gillespie Field, towering above the skyline. It also has the Apollo 9 capsule at Balboa Park.

One of the docents at the museum worked on the antennaes that helped the capsules stay in constant contact with mission control.

"I can bring people over here and point to it and say that's what I did," says Ronald Pitcher, who volunteers at the museum and was an engineer working on the Mercury capusule, the Gemini and the Apollo spacecrafts. "It's a proud moment to be able to do that."

Pitcher says he feels privileged to have played a small role in landing a man on the moon. He wishes the US had sent more people up.

"There's no question in my mind that we should go back," he says. "We should have done it when we had the technology and the poeple and experience and facilities in place."

Saturday night, on the 50th anniversary of the landing, the Air and Space Museum will host a party to celebrate. They have family activities planned, including a special documentary screening.

For more details on the party, click here.