Purdue exhibit celebrates university's 'Place in Space' - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Purdue exhibit celebrates university's 'Place in Space'

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Neil Armstrong Neil Armstrong
Chris Proffitt/Eyewitness News

West Lafayette - It was one giant leap for mankind that put Purdue University on the map. The school is celebrating its strong ties to the space program on Monday's moon landing anniversary.

While the world commemorates the moment 40 years ago when astronaut Neil Armstrong took the first steps on the moon, Purdue University opens its exhibit showing its role in American space flight, and what a history it is. It begins before Neil Armstrong arrived on campus.

It's at Purdue where Armstrong and Eugene Cernan, a Purdue graduate and the last man on the moon, are donating papers, mementos and artifacts collected through their careers.

"It started with a proposal to Neil Armstrong for his papers and once he agreed to that, we moved to writing letters to other astronauts," said Sammie Morris, Purdue Division of Archives.

While Armstrong is one of the university's most renowned graduates, other followed. In all, Purdue has produced 22 astronauts.

Ironically, on the anniversary of Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin's moonwalk, Purdue grad David Wolf was performing a spacewalk on the shuttle Endeavour, the 202nd spacewalk by Americans since the Apollo 11 lunar excursion.

"A student at Purdue, no matter what their background, can achieve and become a success and do remarkable things as Neil Armstrong certainly did," said James Mullins, Purdue Libraries dean.

On the 40th anniversary of an imprint left in the nation's rich history of space exploration, Purdue marks its 23rd alumnus chosen as a NASA astronaut and the roots Purdue has sown in space travel.

Over the past year, Armstrong and Cernan have begun the process of donating personal papers and mementos to the University. Purdue's "Place in Space" exhibit runs through October.

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