Rockwell Collins looks back on its role in moon landing - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Rockwell Collins looks back on its role in moon landing

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CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) - Hundreds of scientists were involved in putting the first man on the moon on July 20th, 1969. Many of them worked for Rockwell Collins, based right here in Eastern Iowa. On Monday, the company looked back on its involvement in this historic event in a panel discussion at its headquarters in Cedar Rapids.

It was a moment that captivated the world: a man walking on the moon. Even the people who made it happen, like Jim Westcot, remember how amazed they were. "The next morning I realized...that it was on the front pages of newspapers all over the world. And they'd all watched this thing on television, and I thought, 'my goodness, it isn't just us.'"

Westcot was part of the Apollo Program's management team. He explained how Rockwell Collins, then known as Collins Radio, was selected to build Apollo 11's communications systems in 1961. What followed was an intense stretch of training, designing and building for Collins Radio employees.

Their goal was to land on the moon with tried-and-true technology.

"When we couldn't solve it with proven technology, then we had to get innovative," said Apollo design engineer Richard Jackson. He says Collins Radio may never have won the contract for Apollo's comms systems, had it not been for their dedicated workforce.

"We were quality-conscious, and that was, I think, the primary reason that we were so successful."

"It isn't just the technology. It's the people who implement it," Westcot told us. That's easy to see, because this team still gets excited talking about space travel four decades later.

"We accomplished what no one thought we could do, and we did it as a team, and it was great," said Jackson.

Online Reporter - Brady Smith

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