In its 35th year, NASA Goddard still shoots for the moon

Savanna Hensley described her rocket as pink and colorful with glitter. Her brother, Elijah, went with basic black. "I choose that color because it\'s a rocket," he says. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)

GREENBELT, Md. — On Sunday, NASA called on all model rocketeers to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the moon landing.

They went to the NASA Goddard Visitors Center in Greenbelt to see if they had what it took.

Jennifer Ash-Poole is the director for the Apollo Goddard contest, a model rocket show now in its 35th year.

“We do this to celebrate the Apollo 11 moon landing,” Ash-Poole says. “It just so happens today (Sunday), the 45th anniversary, we’re doing it on the day and it’s awesome.”

There, children tried to launch rockets and land on a makeshift moon — which was really a circle lined in flags with an American flag in the center.

But it’s a lot harder than it looks. Recently, Ash-Poole says, she’s only had one person land on the spot.

Johnny Verde used to come to Goddard as a kid and compete in the model rocket contest. This year, he brought his niece and nephew.

“It’s the next generation,” Verde says. “They’re coming out here to try it out.”

Verde’s niece, Savanna Hensley, is 11 years old and a first-time rocketeer. So is her brother, Elijah Hensley, 13. The children put the final touches on their rockets just before the contest.

Savanna Hensley described her rocket as pink and colorful with glitter. Her brother went with basic black.

“I choose that color because it’s a rocket,” Elijah says.

First, second and third place contest winners got trophies.

With the long summer break, the contest is a way to keep children active. Seemed like they were having a blast.

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