Apollo 11: Astronaut Mike Massimino explains how the Moon landing inspired his NASA career

Former NASA astronaut Mike Massimino was just 6 years old when he watched Neil Armstrong take his historic first steps on the Moon on July 20, 1969.

“I remember it very well,” he told Bill Hemmer during an appearance on America’s Newsroom on Friday. “I remember the lead up to it … it really meant a lot to me.”

“That’s when I wanted to be an astronaut,” he explained, noting that he was gripped by the mission when it launched into space on July 16, 1969. “I thought launch day did it for me.”

BUZZ ALDRIN 'DISAPPOINTED' IN PROGRESS MADE SINCE APOLLO 11: 'WE HAVE THE NUMBER ONE ROCKET AND SPACECRAFT AND THEY CAN’T GET INTO LUNAR ORBIT'

Massimino, who is now a professor at Columbia University’s School of Engineering, has flown two space shuttle missions to the Hubble Space Telescope during his NASA career.

Astronaut Mike Massimino peers into space shuttle Columbia's crew cabin during a brief break in work on the Hubble Space Telescope on March 5, 2002.

Astronaut Mike Massimino peers into space shuttle Columbia's crew cabin during a brief break in work on the Hubble Space Telescope on March 5, 2002. (NASA)

The former astronaut described Apollo 11 Mission Commander Neil Armstrong as his “all-time hero.”

“I think that he was a great astronaut, he really stuck to business,” he explained. “He was the right man for the job.”

ASTRONAUT TERRY VIRTS: HOW APOLLO 11 INSPIRED MY SPACE JOURNEY

Fifty years after Massimino watched the Moon landing from his childhood home in Franklin Square, Long Island, the Moon is once again a priority for America’s space program. The U.S. wants to land American astronauts on Earth’s natural satellite by 2024.

“I think it’s not impossible,” Massimino told Fox News during an interview after his appearance on America’s Newsroom. “I think we can today send people around the Moon,” he explained, but added that building the infrastructure needed for Moon landings requires a lot of additional work.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Be sure to catch the America’s News HQ Apollo 11 50th anniversary special on Fox News on Saturday, July 20 at 12 PM EDT.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers