In less than two weeks, the 50-year anniversary of Neil Armstrong stepping onto the moon’s surface and saying the the now-famous words, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” will be recognized in a wide range of celebrations.

The monumental accomplishment of American engineering and tenacity captured the imagination of the world. What was once thought impossible became reality on July 20, 1969. An estimated 500 million people watched the event, which was about 20 percent of the world’s population at that time.

In Huntsville, where the Saturn V rocket was developed for Apollo 11’s journey to the moon, there are plans for dancing in the streets. The event will include a moonwalk down the roads of “Rocket City,” reliving the day they danced in the streets in 1969.

The U.S. Space and Rocket Center is also shooting for a world record. On July 16 at 8:32 a.m. local time, the day that Apollo 11 astronauts blasted off for the moon, the museum will attempt to set a Guinness World Record by launching 5,000 model rockets simultaneously.

“It’s going to be epic,” said Pat Ammons, spokeswoman for the museum and its popular space camp.

Indeed, epic is the word to describe the moon landing and all that the space program has given back through technology advancements.

The museum has also invited space fans around the world to launch their own rockets that day. So far, people from 29 countries have joined, including Argentina, Vietnam and China.

The moon landing is one of the great journeys in American history, and an important part of Apollo 11’s success can be traced to Alabama and the research and development in Huntsville.

The approaching anniversary of the moon landing is a time to celebrate courage and American ingenuity, and an opportunity to join in the events that recognize Alabama’s role in making history.

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