Moon Landing Anniversary: 50 Years Since Apollo 11 Mission

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"If Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Mike Collins are not heroes, then there are no heroes", Pence told a crowd of dozens of space industry executives and NASA staff in the Operations and Checkout building, the 58-foot-tall (18 meters) chamber that once housed the Apollo 11 command module for testing.

The US president also took the opportunity to press NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine to expedite the mission to reach Mars.

In the decades since USA astronaut Neil Armstrong uttered, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind", various nations have advanced their own lunar missions - including China, which plans to explore the moon's polar regions by 2030.

Even today, information about the moon and its formation is being shaped by the debris returned to Earth decades ago.

NASA has been in overdrive for several weeks to mark the anniversary, with exhibits and events nationwide but most notably at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida and the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

At 4:18pm ET (2018 GMT) on July 20, 1969, the lunar module carrying astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin touched down on the Sea of Tranquility, following a four-day journey. We've always gone over the horizon to the next thing.

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The Apollo 11 mission occurred eight years after President John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) announced a national goal of landing a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s. "So we've come full circle", said Glenn Chin, deputy manager at the Orion productions operations office. Any way of going directly without landing on the moon?

Collins, though, chimed in that he supported the idea of "Mars direct", referring going directly to Mars without first returning to the Moon. Collins, meanwhile, restated that he'd rather see the US bypass its current moon plans in favor of a "Mars direct" program to set foot on the red planet sooner rather than later.

"Fifty years ago today, we achieved the world's greatest human accomplishment, and what we universally recall about that event is best documented on these tapes", said Cassandra Hatton, vice president and senior specialist in Sotheby's Books & Manuscripts Department, said in a release.

Europe is to launch a spacecraft to the Moon as it seeks to become a contender in the new space race that has taken off 50 years after the historic USA lunar mission.

And where better to celebrate than Apollo, Pennsylvania - located in Armstrong County not far from the town of Mars and Moon Township.

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