Updated:CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. —
The family and colleagues of astronaut Neil Armstrong were among the hundreds who gathered Monday to honor the first man to walk on the moon.
Armstrong stepped onto the surface of the moon July 20, 1969.
Now, an iconic Kennedy Space Center building will bear his name and will usher in the next era of manned spaceflight.
The former Operations and Checkout Building has a new name: The Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building.
Apollo 11 backup commander Jim Lovell and Apollo 11 astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins were among those who came to honor Armstrong, who died in 2012.
"He would not have sought this honor. That was not his style. But I think he would be proud to have his name so closely associated with the heart and soul of the space business," said Collins.
The building opened during the Apollo era to process and test the command, service and lunar modules.
Today, the facility is being used for NASA's Orion spacecraft
as the agency prepares to embark on the next giant leap in space exploration : sending astronauts to an asteroid and to Mars.
"The new Orion multipurpose crew vehicle is being assembled and tested within these walls for its first test flight later this year," said NASA
administrator Charles Bolden.
The Orion spacecraft is being built to take humans farther than they've ever gone before, but they will follow in the footsteps of those who've gone before them.
"Now his name will be a constant reminder of where we've been
, and that, in his words, 'our opportunities are unlimited,'" said Bob Cabana, director of the Kennedy Space Center.