Arizona marks 50th anniversary of historic Apollo 11 mission

PHOENIX (FOX 10) -- 50 years ago Wednesday, three Apollo Program astronauts were on their way to the moon and landed on it days later on July 20, 1969.

Fast forward to 2019, this week has been full of festivities to remember that historic journey to Earth's closest neighbor in space, and there are several such festivities across Arizona.

The Grand Canyon State played a key role in getting a man on the moon, through several training missions that were held mostly up north. Now, with NASA planning a return to the Moon, Arizona is poised to play a big role again, and the excitement has already begun.

When American astronauts launched to the moon, they took the heart and imagination of a little girl with them. That girl, Peggy Whitson, went on to become an astronaut herself.

"I was nine years old when I watched them walk on the moon, and I was like, 'cool job. I want that,'" said Whitson.

Countless lives were inspired by the Apollo mission, and the mission still inspires people today, such as a crowd here at Arizona State University, who gathered to screen the new movie Apollo 11.

All this excitement isn't just about the past. It's about looking toward the future, as well as that return trip to the moon, with new astronauts inspired by an amazing accomplishment, 50 years ago this week.