North American Aviation Rockwell – August, 1969
“… The Saturn V rocket which put us in orbit is an incredibly complicated piece of machinery, every piece of which worked flawlessly … We have always had confidence that this equipment will work properly. All this is possible only through the blood, sweat, and tears of a number of a people …All you see is the three of us, but beneath the surface are thousands and thousands of others, and to all of those, I would like to say, ‘Thank you very much.'” – Apollo 11 Command Module Pilot Michael Collins
The words above were spoken from the command module Columbia on July 23rd, 1969 , the last night of the Apollo 11 space mission before splashdown. Three days earlier, while Michael Collins orbited the moon alone, Commander Neil Armstrong and Lunar Module Pilot Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin had become the first men to step on the surface of the Moon, making a reality of President Kennedy’s bold promise on September 12,1962 at Rice University.
Shortly after they were released from a post-mission quarantine, Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins visited the North American Aviation Rockwell building in Seal Beach to thank in person the engineers and workers who had built the S-II stage of the Saturn V rocket. The following photographs were taken from a collection of 56 slides I purchased on eBay a few years. The seller had acquired the slides in the estate sale of a photographer some years earlier. Unfortunately, the seller didn’t have a record of the photographer’s name, but I’m grateful to him for documenting this historical visit to Seal Beach.
These are not all the slides from that collection, but I’m sharing just enough (and without commentary, for once) to present a full flavor of the event.
Be sure to check back each week for more historical photos and stories of Seal Beach.