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Center for Educational Technologies projects have ended (except Challenger Learning Center) and are no longer funded.

Apollo Veterans Recall Moon Landing at WJU Celebration

Tue Jul 21 2009

Joe Pappano and the Apollo 11 crew.One of the "little guys" who helped make the Moon landing on July 20, 1969, a success put the magnificence of the accomplishment in perspective at an Apollo 11 anniversary celebration Monday night.

"Try to remember the little guys," Joe Pappano of Bellaire, OH, told an audience of more than 60 people at the Center for Educational Technologies. "Sure, these three astronauts were heroes, but there were 400,000 people from 20,000 companies spread across the country who worked on the Apollo program. The Apollo spacecraft was made up of millions of parts put together by hundreds of thousands of people, and they all worked."

Pappano, long-time Belmont County auditor served as deputy program manager for the Apollo extravehicular mobility unit (EMU) development for ILC Industries (now ILC Dover) in Dover, Del. The EMU was the spacesuit worn by astronauts on the Apollo mission. Pappano was second in command to Len Shepard, who invented and holds the patents for most of the features of the EMU.

Pappano was joined by Chuck Wood, director of the Center for Educational Technologies and an internationally recognized lunar scientist, in discussing man's journey to the Moon. Wood's work as a student at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona from 1962 to 1966 provided maps of the Moon for NASA. Wood told the audience he has worked for and with NASA for most of his life, including positions at Goddard Space Flight Center and Johnson Space Center. At Johnson he was chief of the Space Shuttle Earth Observations Office, training shuttle astronauts in the Moon's geography and geology.

"The Moon is a fascinating place. After Apollo I thought I'd be living there by now," Wood joked.

Wood narrated footage from the Apollo 11 flight and delighted the audience with trivia about the actual Moon landing. For instance, he pointed out that Neil Armstrong had made such a soft landing on the lunar surface with the Eagle lunar exploration module that the struts didn't fully deploy. As a result, it was 3 feet from the last rung of the ladder on the side of Eagle to the lunar surface. Before he actually took the "one giant leap for mankind," he made sure that he could use the strut as a step because, as Wood noted, "Armstrong wanted to make sure he could get back in!"

Wood also relayed a story about an urgent communication that astronaut Buzz Aldrin received as he descended the ladder from the module to become the second man on the Moon. Mission control in Houston told Aldrin to make certain the door to the module was kept propped open. Engineers there had just realized that while there was a handle on the inside of the module to lock it, there was no such device on the outside.

Pappano regaled the audience with stories of the various astronauts he worked with during the Gemini and Apollo programs. With a finely tuned sense of humor, he told about making the spacesuit the Apollo astronauts donned for their walk on the Moon. He recalled how he put little thought into designing a tread for the boots in the suit. Of course, that footprint of Aldrin's became memorialized in a photo. As Pappano joked, had he known it would have become so famous, he would have put his own initials on the bottom of it.

Pappano also told about his work with Armstrong when the pilot of the mission came to ILC Industries for his fitting.

"After spending the day fitting Neil, I remember telling Rosie, my wife, that night, 'I don't think he's going to make it. He's too quiet and too reserved.' Shows what I know!"

Pappano also gave audience members copies of documents he had saved from his work at ILC. The papers included the code names for the manufacture of suits to be used for the first Moon flight as well as all of Armstrong's measurements used to build his spacesuit.

Pappano also presented gifts to Wheeling Jesuit University president Fr. Julio Giulietti and Wood. His gifts included autographed photos of the Apollo 1 crew that perished during launchpad testing and a photo of the unmanned Apollo 4 rocket.

He concluded by recommending that President Obama dedicate resources to return man to the Moon and eventually Mars. "Space pays off," Pappano said. "If you want a stimulus package, there's one that will put people to work."

View more photos from this event.