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Michael Collins

Michael Collins

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6:08pm UK, Monday July 20, 2009 The first men on the moon have been reuinted for a rare public apearance to mark the 40th anniversary of the landings.One of the first footprints of man on the moon following the 1969 Apollo 11 landingsNeil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin 'Buzz' Aldrin were at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC.But rather than reminiscing about the landings, a packed crowd heard Collins and Aldrin urge NASA to forget further moon exploration and aim to put a man on Mars.And Armstrong, the mission commander and the first man to set foot on the moon, spoke for just 11 seconds about it in a 20 minute lecture looking at the inventions and discoveries that led to the landings.Neil Armstrong On Moon Landing 40 Years AgoHe said the space race was "the ultimate peaceful competition: USA versus USSR.

It did allow both sides to take the high road with the objectives of science and learning and exploration."Aldrin, who followed Armstrong out of the capsule, said they landed on the moon 66 years after the Wright brothers first flew an airplane.He said he would like mankind to land on Mars 66 years after his flight in 2035."It was a great personal honor to walk on the moon, but as Neil once observed, there are still places to go beyond belief.

Isn't it time to continue our journey outward, past the moon?" he said."That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong as he became the first man to walk on the moon, July 20, 1969.

Apollo 11 command module pilot Michael Collins, who circled the moon alone while Armstrong and Aldrin walked on it, said the moon was not interesting, but Mars is."Sometimes I think I flew to the wrong place.

Mars was always my favorite as a kid and it still is today," Collins said."I'd like to see Mars become the focus, just as John F.

Kennedy focused on the moon."Apollo 11 crew Buzz Aldrin, left, Michael Collins and Neil Armstrong todayAn estimated 500 million people on Earth crowded round televisions and radios as Armstrong stepped down from the lunar module onto the moon's Sea of Tranquility and uttered the imortal words 'That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind'.At the time America was mired in the Vietnam war and on edge from the Cold War.

The landings ushered in a new sense of confidence and challenged concepts of science and religion.Aldrin told Fox News: "That was a proud moment, to be a military person and to salute that (US) flag on the surface of the moon."Aldrin said what stayed with him most was a realisation upon touchdown of the sheer scale of what he and the rest of NASA had achieved."What I want to remember most is the glance between Neil and myself, with the engine shut-off, just those seconds after we touched down, because we had just completed the most critical door opening for exploration in all of humanity," he said.Apollo 11 crew Neil Armstrong, left, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin in 1969The Apollo 11 crew were due to meet President Barack Obama at a time when NASA plans to put US astronauts back on the moon by 2020 to establish manned lunar bases for further exploration to Mars under the Constellation project are increasingly in doubt.The cost of Constellation is put at about $150 billion but estimates for the Ares I launcher to put the project into orbit have skyrocketed from $26 billion in 2006 to $44 billion last year.The mounting costs prompted Obama to order a review shortly after he took office.

A panel of experts is due to make its recommendations in August.



http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/World-News/40th-Anniversary-Of-Apollo-11-Moon-Landings-As-Crew-Reunite-At-Smithsonian-Institute-In-Washington/Article/200907315341633
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