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Fifty years after Apollo 11 lifted off, NASA prepares new Moon mission

Alastair Pike, AFP | Neil Armstrong's Apollo 11 spacesuit has been unveiled for the first time in 13 years, at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, on July 16, 2019, during the 50th anniversary of the launch mission.

On July 16, 1969, Apollo 11 lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying its crew to the Moon and into history. Half a century later, NASA is preparing a new lunar mission under the Artemis programme.

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NASA invited Apollo 11’s original astronaut Michael Collins to Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A on Tuesday. He returned to the exact spot from where they flew to the Moon 50 years ago.

They will mark the precise moment – 9:32am on July 16, 1969 – that their Saturn V rocket departed on humanity’s first moon landing. Mission commander Neil Armstrong, who famously took the first lunar footsteps, died in 2012.

This kicks off eight days of golden anniversary celebrations for each day of Apollo 11’s voyage.

Neither the US nor any other country has managed to return a human to the moon since 1972, the year of the final Apollo mission.

March to Mars

In 1989, then US president George H. Bush promised to do so, as did his son, George W. Bush, in 2004 while pledging to also march forward to Mars.

But they both ran up against a Congress that wasn’t inclined to fund the adventures, with public opinion markedly changed since the height of the Cold War.

Now, NASA has a new Moon programme called Artemis, after Apollo's twin sister, the aim being to go to the Moon again by 2024.

Click on the video player to view the full FRANCE 24 report.

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