DOWNEY (CBSLA)  — It wouldn’t have been a small step for man or a giant leap for mankind without the engineers in Downey who put the spacecraft together that allowed us to land on the moon and return astronauts safely to Earth.

Today marks the 50th anniversary of that historic touchdown.

CBS2/KCAL9 reporter Laurie Perez was in Downey where many engineers and workers from the Apollo 11 mission gathered together to commemorate the day.

Of all the “Where were you when it happened” stories you will hear this weekend, none will be more personal that what you heard from the crew assembled in Downey on Saturday.

“We had thousands of journalists showing up at the Cape, 200 from Japan alone, and all of sudden we said this is much bigger than anybody ever imagined,” said Apollo 11 engineering manager Chuck Lowry.

“I felt such a sense of pride and accomplishment, I think we all did. It was just a great sense of pride and accomplishment,” said support staffer Joanne Curtin.

Perez asked project engineer Peter Magoski if he ever worried that he measured everything correctly, with so much riding on the mission?

“Oh no, you had to be confident, I knew I measured it right,” he recalls.

“Bringing my granddaughter and grandson here to the space center and seeing me in the acknowledgment of the Women of Apollo, it’s like really, you know.” says Susan Ingle who was in property management for the mission.

Thousands came today to remember the mission and those here at the Downey campus that built the command module that took Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins to the moon and back.

“Just seeing the fact that we were able to get off the earth and go someplace else, all of the science, everybody working together on that project, even as a little kid, I got goose bumps on it,” says Ben Dickow, now president and executive director of the Columbia Memorial Space Center.

Magoski, Ingle, Lowry of course didn’t go into space but they put hearts into the spacecraft inspiring future generations to head for the next frontier — Mars.

“It won’t be very far away, I honestly believe the technology is there,” says Karen Casey, an engineering fellow at the Raytheon Corporation.

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