TYLER, Texas (KETK) – The 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 occurs in one week.

Saturday, Tyler Junior College began celebrations early featuring former TJC alumnus and NASA engineer, Charles R. Price.

The presentation, “50 years with NASA,” covered his many years working for the U.S. space program.

He was a trajectory specialist on the Apollo 8 and 11 missions and worked with the space shuttle missions.

Price was on the team designing the path Apollo would take to the moon.

NASA has announced plans to return to the moon, but is also talking about a new objective – Mars. Price said that objective is much more of a challenge. At its nearest approach, he said, Mars is 35 million miles away; at its farthest, when the planet’s orbit takes it to the far side of the moon, “you add 360 million on top of that.”

Still, Price said he is not saying it can’t be done, but getting there will be “a challenge.”

“It’s going to be a long journey,” Price said, “Honestly the psychological aspects of it – being so distant from your homeland, living with people intimately for the whole time – is going to be a challenge.”

July 20 marks the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 and TJC will host another event called “Moon Day.” Information can be found here.

Price worked for NASA from 1963 until 2015, including 39 years at Johnson Space Center in Houston and 11 years as a support contractor to the NASA IV and V Facility in Fairmont, West Virginia.

His duties included: Apollo moon mission orbital trajectories specialist; space shuttle flight navigation, guidance and control analyst; software manager for the space shuttle backup flight computer; avionics manager for orbital refueling flight experiment; and branch chief for flight robotics systems on the space shuttle and International Space Station.

A Tyler native, he is a 1958 graduate of Tyler High School and a 1960 graduate of TJC.