Young space buffs attend White House ceremony


Twenty-five years after Apollo 11 astronauts landed on the moon, 12-year-old H. Russell Frisby III and 10-year-old Rachel Feldman, both of Howard County, made some history of their own.

Yesterday, the two young space buffs stood in the packed East Room of the White House, within feet of President Clinton and members of the Apollo crew, at a ceremony commemorating the 25th anniversary of man's first landing on the moon.

They were among 28 science-oriented youngsters from around the country who had been invited to attend the ceremony.

Russell, of Wilde Lake, and Rachel, of Highland, are members of the Young Astronauts Council, a group that claims a worldwide membership of 2 million.

Members of the group have been in Washington all week for the Young Astronauts National Conference.

The Washington-based council provides an opportunity for young people to get together to learn about rocketry, visit space flight centers and hear speakers on space science.

The youngsters flanked the president, Vice President Al Gore and Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, who were seated on stage.

"I'm very excited," a smiling Rachel said later. "I've never met anyone famous.

"Just meeting the president, the vice president and the first lady is so neat."

During his brief speech, Mr.Armstrong told the young people, "To you, we say we have only completed a beginning. We leave you much that is undone. There are great ideas undiscovered, breakthroughs available to those who can remove one of truth's protective layers.

"There are places to go beyond belief," he said.

On July 20, 1969, Mr. Armstrong and Mr. Aldrin landed the lunar module at "Tranquility Base", while Mr. Collins circled the moon in orbit.

"Apollo's landing was what [raised] the eyes of a generation of young people . . . and made millions of children want to explore the last frontier," Mr. Gore said.

Said Mr. Clinton, "They taught us that nothing is impossible if we set our sights high enough."

After his speech, Mr. Clinton shook hands with the students.

Russell said he was not nervous about meeting the president. He had practice two years ago, when he met President Bush and presented him with an illustration during the kick-off for international space year.

The soft-spoken boy said he is not sure if he will become an astronaut, but admires the Apollo crew.

"They were pioneers . . . they went to the moon," he said. "They had to be brave."

Russell has been involved in the Young Astronauts Council for four years. He will be seventh-grader at Glenelg Country School in the fall.

He already has his sights set beyond the moon.

"Maybe go to Mars," he said, "because it's like the next planet. It's out there."

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