Saturday marks the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, one of the most significant scientific achievements in the history of the United States.
Some Americans will look back and recall watching the event on television. Others will be reminded of the history they learned during their educational experience.
For Syracuse resident Dave Straub, the connection to the moon landing is much more direct.
Fifty years ago, Straub was an employee of Boeing Aerospace Company and worked on the very project that sent the first American astronauts to the moon.
Boeing had the contract for building the first stage of the Saturn missile, a three-stage rocket that delivered man to the moon. North American Company built the second stage of the rocket and MacDonald Douglas Company built the third.

In addition to building the first stage of the rocket, Straub helped with ground checkout equipment which included the maintenance and operation of the firing room equipment, the telemetry room and all of the instrumentation and telemetry inside the first stage of the missile.
“I was the lead man of about 12 electronic technicians that maintained and operated the firing room data recording and telemetry room equipment,” Straub said.
Telemetry is the measuring and recording of all kinds of data from a remote location by radio.
The location is the missile as it lifts off the launch pad and flies down range and radios back data. There were 18 radio systems. The types of data recorded were missile battery voltages and currents, fuel and oxidizer tank levels and pressures, hydraulic levels and pressures, helium pressures, yaw, pitch and roll of the rocket engines, accelerometers that measure gravitational forces and more.  Straub said that, in total, there are probably close to a thousand measurements.
“If a missile has a mishap, then all the data recorded will be examined carefully to determine exactly what went wrong so that the problem can be fixed,” said Straub. “This is very similar to the black boxes on airplanes that can reveal what actually happened during a crash.”
The launch of the mission occurred on July 16, 1969, from Kennedy Space Center at Merritt Island, Fla.
Straub’s participation in the mission was directly related to the launch. After the launch process was completed, the control of mission operations was transfered to Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.
Commander Neil Armstrong took the first step on the moon on July 20, 1969. Astronauts returned to Earth and splashed down in the Pacific Ocean on July 24 after more than eight days in space.
The passage of time has not subtracted any awe from the accomplishment made during that eight-day mission. Straub said he is proud to have been a part of the history.
“As I look back now, and think what we accomplished, I’m astounded and proud of what we did,” said Straub. “It was the highlight of my working career.  I continue to have an extreme interest and read about all the space adventures going on now because of what I did 50 years ago.”
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) conducted a number of other missions to the Lunar surface, the last one being in December of 1972. But those missions have not concluded America’s interest in visiting the Moon.
Recent conversations have indicated a desire to return to the Moon, possibly in the next five years.
Straub said he believes there is still much to learn about the Moon. NASA’s investigations have pointed to the possible existence of water ice on the Lunar South Pole, which has been talked about as a potential landing site for a new mission.
The presence of precious metals on the Moon are also of interest. Of course there are further scientific tests to be done and the possibility of using a return to the moon as the first step toward an even more bold manned mission to Mars.
This time around, Straub said he believes NASA will work with Space X, a company famously formed by Elon Musk back in 2002 in developing the vehicle for a return to the Moon. Straub said Space X has been having good success in launching large payloads. Straub said he’s been impressed in following the accomplishments and innovations of Space X including the company’s work to re-use launch boosters that were discarded after launches in the past.
Looking into the future of Lunar exploration, Straub said he believes ownership of the Moon will come into question.
He said he believes that every country on earth should have some access or claim to the Lunar surface and added that will be a topic for much debate going forward.
If there is an obstacle to getting back to the moon, it might be money.
Straub said he recalls the Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union inspired the expenditure of capitol.
America won the race and paid the price for that win.
“There was a lot of prestige gained to do what we did,” said Straub. “But it cost us a lot of money.”

Dave Straub was born near Avoca and graduated from St. Bernards Academy, now Lourdes Central Catholic. He served in the United States Air Force for four years and ended up at Patrick Air Force Base in Florida.
He worked at Cape Canaveral on the research and development of the Snark ICBM missile. He left the Air Force to work for Martin Company on the research and development of the Titan missile ICBM weapon system. He then went to Kennedy Space Center to work on the Apollo Moon program for Boeing Aerospace Company.
Straub said that, at that time, experience was seen as the key factor for a new hire while education was secondary.
Today, he said education and a degree are must. Straub said it was his experience that qualified him to do work on the Apollo program back then.
In 1976, Straub left Boeing and returned to Nebraska., He currently lives near Syracuse and owns Nebraska Windmills on Highway 2.
Straub married his wife, Donitta, on Nov. 22, 1958. The couple was blessed with seven children, 19 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.
The Straub children have gone on to impressive careers of their own.
Debra is married to Kevin Knobloch and retired CPA living in Baton Rouge, La.
Steve is married to Linda and lives near Nebraska City and is a woodworking craftsman.
Doug is married to Peg and now resides in Chengdu, China. He works for Collins Aerospace in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  He is the CTO (Chief Technology Officer) for the project in China.
Cindy is married to Dan Rudolph, living in Lincoln and is Financial Comptroller for Cedars Home for children.
Rick is married to Carolyn, living in Omaha and is Institute Controller for the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas.
Janelle is married to Fabian, living in Lincoln and works at Rush Market.
Mike is married to Jolene, living in Omaha and is the Vice President Solutions Advisor for Team Software.