Tulsans Recall Role In Apollo Mission

Monday, July 20th 2009, 10:00 pm
By: News On 6

By Chris Wright, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Tulsa played a role in delivering the men to the moon.  For almost a decade, engineers in Tulsa designed and built parts of the Apollo 11 Lunar Module and Saturn Rocket.

It was 40 years ago when man accomplished what many had considered impossible.  And, without the help of Oklahoma engineers, it may not have happened.  Lloyd Jackson spent seven years working for North American Aviation on Apollo 11's Lunar Module Adapter.  The adapter housed the lunar lander that would eventually touch down on the moon.

On July 20th, as the astronauts neared the surface, Jackson remembers being a nervous wreck.

"It was also dramatic to be sure that things didn't get messed up and cause some kind of problem with the landing itself," said engineer Lloyd Jackson.

Tulsa's Air and Space Museum houses an exhibit honoring Oklahoma's contributions to the space program.  In fact, the day after President Kennedy announced America's intention of making it to the moon by the end of the 60's, Tulsa Hosted the Conference on Peaceful Uses of Space in 1961.  World-renowned scientists and engineers from around the world attended, and JFK even placed a call.

"I am delighted that people of Tulsa have taken the initiative in the heart of our country in making this important meeting possible," said President John F. Kennedy.

The important work would continue in Tulsa.  In addition to the Lunar Module Adapter, the outer panels for the Saturn Rocket used on the Apollo 11 mission were built in Tulsa and then taken by helicopter to Florida.

"It was an incredible sense of pride to think that we in this town had a hand in putting men on the moon," said Kim Jones, Curator of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum.

That feeling was eventually shared by Jackson, who says after witnessing the crew return to Earth safely, realized he had contributed to one of the most important moments in American history.

"There was a lot of pride that all these people had worked toward a common objective and met the goal," said engineer Lloyd Jackson.

After the Apollo missions, Tulsa continued to contribute the space program.  Parts for space shuttles and the International Space Station have been manufactured in Tulsa.