Thursday, 17 October, 2019

The Moon landing at 50: Man's greatest leap into the unknown

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin arrives for President Trump's State of the Union address on Feb. 5 2019 Astronaut Buzz Aldrin arrives for President Trump's State of the Union address on Feb. 5 2019
Sandra Phillips | 21 July, 2019, 17:15

Vice President Mike Pence headed to Kennedy to tour the Apollo 11 launch pad and give a speech.

The building is now home to NASA's Orion crew capsule, the spacecraft created to carry astronauts back to the moon by 2024 in what Bridenstine calls the Artemis program, named after the Greek goddess and twin sister of Apollo. Work is underway to complete the integration of the spacecraft, such as connecting bolts and umbilical lines between the modules.

Earlier, in a launch coinciding with the anniversary, a Soyuz spacecraft carrying astronauts from the US, Russia and Italy took off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazazkhstan, bound for the International Space Station.

However, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine told the USA senators in a hearing on Wednesday that the Space Launch System would not be ready until 2021 after multiple delays, adding more uncertainty to NASA's moon-returning schedule.

However, he seemed to suggest at the hearing that a 2020 launch was no longer feasible for the mission.

"I said to Mission control, 'Hey, Houston, I've got the world in my window'". But with plans afoot to travel to Mars, will this generation have its own moon landing moment? "It's coming back with a vengeance", Bridenstine said at Saturday's ceremony. "We will spend weeks and months, not days and hours, on the lunar surface". We landed on the moon with 250 million Americans watching our backs.

The 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing is drawing crowds to the Museum of Flight in Seattle.

Aldrin voiced his concerns with the lack of advancement by NASA half a century after his lunar module became the first entity to land on the moon. By moving up the target lunar landing date from 2028 to 2024, NASA hopes to retire as much political risk as possible by getting out of the gate fast."If it wasn't for the political risk, we would be on the moon right now. Is that a possibility?"

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Bridenstine reiterated past comments that the moon is a "proving ground" for later missions to Mars. "But in the Artemis program we go to the moon sustainably, and this time we have a very diverse, highly qualified astronaut corps that includes women".

Collins, though, chimed in that he supported the idea of "Mars direct", referring going directly to Mars without first returning to the Moon. The logo for the mission was designed by Apollo 11's command module pilot Michael Collins, who apparently could do it all.

Mr Aldrin told Mr Trump he was disappointed that even more advancements have not been made in space over the last decade.

"Ultimately, we're going to have to move beyond Earth", said Young.

Also absent from the event was the "other side" politically.

"Well what the American people saw is, the president and I serve everything, he always wants to go farther faster sooner", Pence said.

Thousands of people have been celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing.

"When we rolled out and looked at (the Moon), oh, it was an awesome sphere", he said.

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