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Jupiter resident Bob Berto remembers working with Apollo 11 astronauts

Posted at 12:19 PM, Jul 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-19 21:49:31-04

JUPITER, Fla. — Imagine watching Apollo 11 blast off for the moon and knowing you had played your small, vital role in making it happen.

74-year-old Bob Berto was a University of Florida engineering student when he got an internship with NASA during the space race in the 1960’s.

Then it was off to graduate school and one of those twists of fate you can only truly appreciate in retrospect.

"I ran out of money in grad school, so then I got hired by NASA full time,” Berto, now a Jupiter resident, told WPTV anchor Michael Williams.

Berto helped work on the Apollo command module simulator that astronauts trained on as they prepared for the moon mission.

"We programmed errors to see if they [would] catch them," Berto recalled.

The trainees included the man who put the first human footprint on the moon.

"You're running into the Neil Armstrongs of the world going through your office," said Berto.

The day finally arrived after so many years of work, involving so many bright, driven engineers focused on one goal. Apollo 11 landed on the moon July 20, 1969 and Berto remembers it like it was yesterday.

"I went out in my backyard and I looked out at the night. And looking up at the moon. I grabbed a rock and threw it in the air, and it came right back. I’m going, Oh my God, the power it took to go all the way up there, and I know those guys," said Berto.