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Push for missions on moon anniversary

July 20, 2009 7:50:01 AM PDT
Monday marks a momentous anniversary: 40 years ago, the first human walked on the moon.Neil Armstrong and some of the crew of Apollo 11 are being honored in Washington with a trip to the White House, where they plan to push for more missions.

The first astronauts to walk on the moon are less concerned with nostalgia, and more focused on the future of space exploration.

But it seems the line made famous by Neil Armstrong can still captivate an audience as we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the lunar landing.

Armstrong insists he actually said, "It's one small step for a man," not just "for man," and he came up with the words on his own.

The entire effort was something the world hadn't seen before.

It required advanced computerization and rocketry that hadn't been built or even designed when President John F. Kennedy declared the challenge.

A packed crowd at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum gathered to listen to Neil Armstrong and Col. Buzz Aldrin talk about the future of space exploration on Sunday night.

Aldrin said the space race is the ultimate in peaceful competition.

"What we can do is to take our experience and help other nations cooperatively, do their activities of their people on the surface of the moon. We'll be helping them with robotics, and we'll take our resources and plan to take them to Mars," Aldrin said.

As the men of NASA and the 1960s talk about new technology and new goals, current NASA officials are still looking back at the moon, hoping to put a base there.

But Apollo 11 command module pilot Michael Collins says the moon is "old hat," and he's afraid that NASA's exploration plans would only be bogged down by a return visit to the moon.

Aldrin agreed, saying it was a great personal honor to walk on the moon, but added there are still places to go beyond belief.

The entire Apollo 11 crew will make a pitch to President Barack Obama on Monday to ask for funding.

Aldrin said he'd like to see a Mars landing by the year 2035.

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