NASA names building for moonwalker Neil Armstrong

MALCOLM RITTER, AP Science Writer
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Visitors to the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum walk past a depiction of space exploration by artist Robert T. McCall entitled 'The Space Mural: A Cosmic View', on the 45th anniversary of Apollo 11 lunar landing, in Washington, Sunday, July 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Visitors to the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum walk past a depiction of space exploration by artist Robert T. McCall entitled ‘The Space Mural: A Cosmic View’, on the 45th anniversary of Apollo 11 lunar landing, in Washington, Sunday, July 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

NASA honored one of its most famous astronauts Monday by renaming a historic building at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

It now bears the name of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon when the Apollo 11 mission landed there 45 years ago.

Armstrong, who died in 2012, was remembered at a ceremony as not only an astronaut, but also as an aerospace engineer, a test pilot and university professor. Michael Collins, who orbited the moon as Armstrong took his historic steps on July 20, 1969, said he had a “powerful combination of curiosity and intelligence” along with an intuitive grasp of the complexities of flight machinery.

“Neil probably liked hangars better than office buildings, but he was certainly good in either venue,” Collins said.

NASA renamed the Operations and Checkout building, also known as the O&C, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. It has been the last stop for astronauts before their flights since 1965. It was also used to test and process Apollo spacecraft. Currently, it’s where the Orion spacecraft is being assembled to send astronauts to an asteroid and later to Mars.

The renaming ceremony included remarks by Apollo 11 crew member Buzz Aldrin and backup mission commander Jim Lovell. Armstrong’s sons Rick and Mark also spoke.

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