LOVELAND, Colo. (CBS4) – A family-run sculpting business in Loveland is behind the new Apollo 11 monument. It’s now on display at the Kennedy Space Center.
The sculpture of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins in their space suits while holding an American flag is now in place, unveiled as part of NASA’s 50-year anniversary celebrations.
Brothers, Mark and George Lundeen and colleague and friend Joey Bainer designed and built the massive structure at their shop in Loveland.
“For me I was a 10-year-old boy when these guys walked on the moon, and I remember it like it was yesterday,” Mark said.
He had no idea he would one day play a part in honoring those men.
“We said ‘Yeah we’d do it,’ and we started on it before we even knew it would be completed,” he said.
The project started with an idea from filmmaker Steven Barber, who helped secure a sponsor to fund the work.
“Why had nobody built the crew of Apollo 11? Like why was that not done 50 years ago?” Barber said.
The team of artists started scouring NASA artifacts, photos and videos. They even had an actual space suit brought into the studio. That research would be the first step in transforming that idea into a clear vision of what the sculptures would become.
“When you start models, we go small because it’s easy to manipulate them and play with different expressions and poses with the figures,” Bainer said.
Those small clay models quickly morphed into molded wax and eventually glimmering bronze sculptures.
Each astronaut stands approximately seven feet tall and weighs hundreds of pounds.
“We worked twelve hours a day, seven days a week for three and half months on this project and that was just the clay. There’s thousands of thousands of hours in this,” Mark said.
After traveling nearly 2,000 miles, those sculptures now have a permanent home in the Moon Tree Garden at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. A place where Apollo’s legacy lives on and that leap forward, honored for years to come.
“Thank God, it’s always good to be done, to be finished with it,” Lundeen laughed. “We are very proud of it.”
Rocket Mortgage commissioned the project for around $750,000 and donated the statute to Kennedy Space Center.