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. The Apollo 11 mission to the moon and back had a duration of eight days.
Originally inspired by the US' Cold War rivalry with the Soviet Union, the mission is now remembered as an iconic moment for stargazers all over the world. The Kennedy Space Center is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing with added events and features that makes this year a very special time to visit Florida's Space Coast.
"Through the Artemis programme, we will see the first woman and the next man walk on the surface of the Moon".
Since Pence announced in March that the USA would set out to get astronauts on the moon by 2024 instead of 2028, as originally planned, the space agency has been working to accelerate the path to the lunar surface. "This time, we're going to the moon to stay".
"Thanks to the hard work of the men and women of NASA, and of American industry, the Orion crew vehicle for the Artemis 1 mission is complete and ready to begin preparations for its historic first flight", Pence said during a speech at the Florida's Kennedy Space Center.
One important difference will be that the lander will berth at a mini Moon-orbiting space station, called Gateway, as a kind of port between the Earth and the Moon. "In the coming years, American astronauts will return to the moon aboard the Orion", he said. The anniversary has also been an opportunity for the Chinese internet to showcase the lighter side of the moon, with a video compilation of astronauts stumbling while walking on the heavenly body's surface going viral as well.More news: De Gea saga to end with six-year deal
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He spoke about Armstrong and Aldrin running 600 simulations of the Lunar Module landing but still facing an unexpected challenge when an alarm suddenly went off.
"President Trump and Vice President Pence have given us a bold direction as an agency to return to the moon within five years and go forward to Mars", Bridenstine said. "In 2004, the "Vision for Space Exploration" (VSE) was announced which had the goal of sending crews to "...the Moon, Mars and Beyond". With the unveiling of the Artemis Program in March of 2019, Exploration Mission 1 was redubbed Artemis 1.
Russia, which hasn't landed on the moon since the Luna-24 mission in the mid-1970s (when the nation was still part of the Soviet Union), also plans to get in on the action soon.
The monument was chosen as a backdrop because it "creates this really powerful visual to symbolize and emphasize the position of the moon landing in American identity", he said.
The issue came up again Friday, when Collins and Aldrin met with the president, vice president and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine in the Oval Office. Trump asked Bridenstine, who explained that the moon will serve as a "proving ground" for technologies to help get to Mars.