The launch control center at Kennedy Space Center that first sent mankind to the Moon has now been named after Rocco Petrone, a man instrumental in America’s journey to reach Earth’s celestial neighbor during the Apollo program.
Rocco A. Petrone Launch Control Center
The son of Italian immigrants, born in New York in 1926, Rocco Petrone attended the US Military Academy at West Point. He served in the US Army for two decades, and he was seconded to NASA in 1960.
While at NASA he oversaw the development of the Saturn V and all elements of construction for launches under the Apollo program.
“Rocco was probably the most influential architect of the Apollo Saturn program in the 1960s, and he was one of the driving forces that helped ensure Neil Armstrong walked on the Moon before the decade was out,” said Janet Petro, the Director of Kennedy Space Center.
“I can’t imagine another leader who could have managed that huge, Kennedy workforce so effectively,” said John Tribe, who worked under Petrone during the Apollo and shuttle programs. “He really was the right man in the right place at the right time. He was instrumental in us successfully achieving President Kennedy’s Apollo goals.”
Petrone passed away in 2006, but is remembered by those who knew him as a respectful, professional, and welcoming person whose work was instrumental in the success of the Apollo program. And now, that work can be further immortalized in history.
On February 22, Kennedy’s launch control center, the very one that first launched humans to the Moon, was renamed in honor of him. The Rocco A. Petrone Launch Control Center is now set to serve its vital role for a new round of launches to the Moon, as the US begins launching missions for its next lunar program, Artemis.
The first, uncrewed launch of the Artemis program is Artemis I, set to launch just a bit later this year. The Artemis program will return humans to the Moon, with the first woman and first person of color set to step foot on the Moon.