Space celebration comes as commercial space travel interest peaks 52 years after first trip to moon

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — As tech billionaires board some of the first commercial flights to space, the National Museum of the United States Air Force is celebrating space travel 52 years after Neil Armstrong became the first American to step foot on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission.

The museum has a special 17-day event to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 15 mission, which came after Armstrong’s first steps on the moon. The Apollo 15 Command Module is on display in the museum’s Space Gallery courtesy of a loan from the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

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It’s the advancements of those aboard Apollo 11 and Apollo 15 that have propelled the country to where it’s at today.

Going to space used to take years and years of training.

“You had to be qualified as a Air Force test pilot or Navy test pilot, you had to get assigned to NASA…accepted into the astronaut program,” said Don Meyer, a tour guide at the National Museum of the United States Air Force.

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Fifty years ago the government was in charge of putting astronauts on the moon, but now others are involved.

“It’s a commercial venture, and now you don’t have to check with NASA. You can contact their company, and you can pay for an opportunity to do what the astronauts did decades ago,” Meyer said.

But, it comes at a price most people couldn’t afford, but it may not always be that way.

“If you build more and can get more customers, paying customers, like the airlines many decades ago, they were now able to bring the costs down,” Meyer said.

The 17-day space celebration at the museum wraps up on Aug. 7.