The story of Apollo 11
Former student Andrea Lloyd '19 spent the past year working with NASA to tell the story of the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 — and shares the key that made this historic narrative possible.
By Alix Poth ’18
Fifty years ago today, the United States of America was just that—united. With bated breath and upward eyes, the unified nation watched with hope as Apollo 11 lifted off to put the first human on the moon. July 16, 1969 represented not just progress for a country, but for all of humankind.
Apollo 11 was the world’s first successful space mission to complete a moon landing, fulfilling President Kennedy’s famous charge in 1961 to set foot on the moon within the decade. On July 20, Neil Armstrong and Edwin (Buzz) Aldrin victoriously departed the lunar module and walked on territory that was up to that point completely desolate of human presence.
But a story like this would have never been told without the effort of public relations.
A story to tell
Wernher Von Braun, the director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center at the time and architect of the vehicle that launched humans to the moon, knew this. After the first moon landing he said, “without public relations and good presentations of these programs to the public, we would have been unable to do it.”
It was true then, and it’s true now—and Andrea Lloyd ‘19, telecommunication former student, is working diligently to tell the story fifty years later.
“I think it’s important to celebrate how we’ve been to the moon, and what these feats teach us about the universe and our nation,” Lloyd said. “Apollo 11 tells our history as Americans, and the huge part that NASA played in that. The public wasn’t supportive at first because they didn’t see how it would be possible, but NASA’s communication really changed that.”
Lloyd has worked tirelessly over the last year as NASA Langley Research Center‘s digital media and communication specialist intern to bring together all the pieces that tell the story of Apollo 11. The result was a well-organized resource packet that included over 500 links of videos, photos, fact sheets, and educational resources for the public to be equipped with the narrative of one of history’s most significant achievements.
As a communicator in the world of NASA, Lloyd prioritized creatively sharing scientific information in a way others could easily understand. She credits her degree from the College of Liberal Arts for giving her the skills to write and edit clearly in order to help people understand concepts before they even ask for help. This process of making complex concepts communicable to the public was and is crucial for the furthering of scientific advancements.
“An entire nation”
Lloyd began as a math major at Texas A&M to pursue a career in the scientific world. However, she was discouraged as she discovered that her giftings were not in the area of math, and believed this would keep her from pursuing her dream career. Soon after, she was redirected to science communication where she found a discipline that combined her love of communicating and her passion for science.
“I found out that there’s always a way to be involved in science, not just the technical skills that seem obvious,” Lloyd said. “Everyone needs everyone, and especially the skills that the liberal arts provide. It’s not limited to technical skills—collaboration is crucial for success.”
Just like Lloyd’s experience, the famous feat of Apollo 11 required a unified effort for its accomplishment: it included not only the work of well-known scientists and astronauts, but the contributions of women mathematicians and artists as well. As President Kennedy put it, “in a very real sense, it will not be one man going to the moon… it will be an entire nation. For all of us must work to put him there.”
Apollo 11 illustrated that contributing to the progress of history is not limited to just one type of person, but needs the skills, backgrounds, and collaborative efforts of us all.
“It was groundbreaking, and showed leaps in technology,” Lloyd said. “Appreciating the story and contributions of science in the past can give us great hope for what we have to look forward to in the future.”
Read more about Lloyd’s work here.