Na­tion cel­e­brates 50th anniversar­y of 1st lu­nar foot­steps

The Saline Courier Weekend - - NEWS -

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — A moon­struck na­tion cel­e­brated the 50th anniversar­y of hu­man­ity’s first foot­steps on an­other world Satur­day, gath­er­ing in record heat at races and other fes­tiv­i­ties to com­mem­o­rate Apollo

11’s “giant leap” by Neil Arm­strong and Buzz Aldrin.

At NASA’S Kennedy Space Cen­ter, Aldrin showed Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence the launch pad where he flew to the moon in 1969. At the same time half­way around the world, an Amer­i­can and two other as­tro­nauts blasted into space from Kaza­khstan on a Rus­sian rocket. And in Arm­strong’s home­town of Wa­pakoneta, Ohio, nearly 2,000 run­ners com­peted in “Run to the Moon” races.

“We’re cel­e­brat­ing the 50th anniversar­y of per­haps the most his­toric event in my life­time, maybe in any­body’s life­time, the land­ing on the moon,” said 10K run­ner Robert Rocco, 54, of Cen­ter­ville, Ohio. “The ‘60s were very tur­bu­lent. But that one bright won­der­ful mo­ment was the space pro­gram.”

The Ea­gle lu­nar lan­der, car­ry­ing Arm­strong and Aldrin, landed on the Sea of Tran­quil­ity on July 20, 1969. Arm­strong was the first one out, pro­claim­ing for the ages: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

“Few mo­ments in our Amer­i­can story spark more pride than the Apollo 11 mis­sion,” Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said in a Space Ex­plo­ration Day mes­sage. His state­ment re­it­er­ated the goal of send­ing as­tro­nauts back to the moon within five years and tak­ing “the next giant leap — send­ing Amer­i­cans to Mars.”

Arm­strong died in 2012, leav­ing Aldrin, 89, and com­mand mod­ule pi­lot Michael Collins, 88, to mark the golden anniversar­y. Both as­tro­nauts and the Arm­strong fam­ily met with Trump in the Oval Of­fice on Fri­day, with Collins push­ing for a di­rect mis­sion to Mars and skip­ping the moon, and Aldrin ex­press­ing dis­may at the past few decades of hu­man space ex­plo­ration.

On Satur­day, Pence,

Aldrin and Arm­strong’s older son, Rick, vis­ited the Apollo 11 launch pad, now leased by Spacex, and the build­ing now named for Arm­strong where the as­tro­nauts suited up for liftoff on July 16, 1969.

In New York City, or­ga­niz­ers moved a moon-land­ing party from Times Square into a ho­tel be­cause of the heat wave. Young­sters joined for­mer space shut­tle as­tro­naut Win­ston Scott there, as a giant screen showed the Saturn V rocket lift­ing off with the Apollo 11 crew in 1969.

Across the coun­try in Seat­tle, Tim Turner was first in line at the Mu­seum of Flight to see the Apollo 11 com­mand mod­ule, Columbia, on dis­play there. Collins or­bited the moon alone in Columbia, as Arm­strong and Aldrin de­scended to the gray, des­o­late sur­face.

Turner, who drove 75 miles from his home in Poulsbo, Wash­ing­ton, re­called watch­ing the lu­nar land­ing on his fam­ily’s blackand-white TV in Ten­nessee, then go­ing out­side to gaze at the moon.

“There was just ex­cite­ment,” Turner said. “It was just the nov­elty of it all. Good grief! It’s still amaz­ing, the No. 1 feat of the 20th cen­tury, if not all of mod­ern his­tory, that first time there.”

Count­downs were planned across the coun­try later in the day at the ex­act mo­ment of the Ea­gle’s land­ing on the moon — 4:17 p.m. EDT — and Arm­strong’s mo­men­tous step onto the lu­nar sur­face at 10:56 p.m. EDT. The pow­dered orange drink Tang was back in vogue for the toasts, along with Moonpies, in­clud­ing a 55-pound (25-kilo­gram), 45,000-calo­rie Moonpie at Kennedy’s One Giant Leap bash.

In the 100-de­gree heat

(38 de­grees Cel­sius) of Kaza­khstan, an Amer­i­can, Ital­ian and Rus­sian, rock­eted into the night to the In­ter­na­tional Space Sta­tion. Only one of the three — cos­mo­naut Alexan­der Skvortsov — was alive at the time of Apollo 11. The three al­ready liv­ing on the space sta­tion also were born long af­ter the moon land­ings.

The crew de­lib­er­ately mod­eled its mis­sion patch af­ter Apollo 11’s: no as­tro­naut names in­cluded to show the univer­sal na­ture of space flight. Morgan explained in a NASA interview that Apollo 11, and now his flight, rep­re­sents “an ac­com­plish­ment of the world and not one sin­gle coun­try.”

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