AN ENGINEER who worked at the Kennedy Space Center on the pre-launch operation for the Apollo 11 Moon launch is remembering his part in the monumental achievement 50 years on.

Lunar themed events will be enjoyed in the area this month as Weymouth and Dorchester commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing on July 20, 1969.

Spectacular touring artwork Museum of the Moon, a seven metre touring artwork, can be seen in Weymouth's Nothe Gardens from July 12 to 14 and Dorchester's Maumbury Rings from July 19 to 21.

The county town is extending its celebrations with an added programme of open air cinema, a fun science day and a lantern parade and music performance.

Buckland Newton resident Keith Wright worked in the US on the original Apollo 11 rocket. Apollo 11 was the first crewed mission to land on the moon on July 20, 1969.

Keith, now 79, said: "I was working in the UK for Blue Streak Europa and I'd been space mad since I was a kid.

"I saw an advert in the Daily Telegraph for people to work on Apollo and thought 'that would be interesting'. I applied and got the job.

"I went to the States with my family towards the end of 1966. I was based in Ann Arbor, Michigan."

As one of 27 British engineers, Keith travelled back and forth to Cape Canaveral, Florida, to work at the Kennedy Space Center and spent 18 months working there from 1968.

Keith had to work with the flight crew on the experiment deployment operations that they would do on the moon with the actual flight hardware. Keith's team was responsible for rehearsing the passive seismometer and laser reflector experiments.

History was made on July 20, 1969 when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin successfully landed on the moon.

Keith said: "All this time on it has been hard to get my head around what actually happened. To anyone who was involved in it, it was part of real life. I feel really good that because of what we did we were able to put people on the moon. Our daughter had been seeing all these rockets going to the moon and thought that was a part of real life."

After five years in the US, Keith and his family returned to Stevenage in the UK to work for his old company and became involved in the work of the European Space Agency. Upon retirement Keith and family lived in Cambridgeshire and Holland but in search of traditional village life, moved to Buckland Newton, near Dorchester.

In August, they will have been Dorset residents for 21 years.

Keith has been busy carrying out media interviews about his experiences and will be reunited with his fellow Apollo 11 engineers when they appear on an episode of Newsnight about the 50th anniversary.

But, although it was a US mission with the US flag planted on the Moon, Keith is proud to tell people that he was involved in leaving a little bit of Britain there.

"Following the deployment exercise I jokingly suggested to Neil Armstrong that it might be an idea to attach a small UK union flag to the gnomon (experiment orientation sundial) on the passive seismic experiment as Bendix Aerospace had recruited 27 British engineers to work on the ALSEP design and manufacture.

"This suggestion was, of course good heartedly rejected although I did manage to get Armstrong and Aldrin’s signatures on a map of the moon.

"Once the astronauts had left our facility, our NASA supervising engineer suggested that it might be an idea to put our signatures on the hardware as a record of our support to the first Lunar landing mission.

"It was decided to sign the back of one of the two loose solar panel brackets which held the solar panels folded during the launch and flight to the moon. The back of the bracket was anodized aluminium. We all signed (using a ball point pen). A non-conformance report was then written as the bracket had been contaminated with the ink.

"The bracket was then cleaned with isopropyl alcohol and inspected. The scratches of our signatures could still be seen. Mine comprised my signature together with “UK” and a small drawing of the Union flag. The decision (it’s called a “disposition”) was then made that as the bracket would be discarded on the moon and the scratches would not affect the bracket’s operation the bracket could be used as it was. That bracket now lies to one side of the deployed PSEP at tranquility base and contains an image of the UK’s Union flag."

And as far as Keith is aware, the bracket with the Union flag on is still on the Moon to this very day.