Europe space agency to join new race to the moon

Federico Mansilla
Julio 22, 2019

In an interview with Fox News, Aldrin lamented the lack of progress in human space exploration since the Apollo program, which ended in 1972.

Returning astronauts to the Moon in 2024 could cost about $30 billion, or roughly the same price tag as the Apollo 11 spaceflight when factoring in inflation.

"In the coming years, American astronauts will return to the moon aboard the Orion", he said.

In this photo obtained from NASA, Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong's right foot leaves a footprint in the lunar soil July 20, 1969, as he and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin become the first men to set foot on the surface of the moon.

The vice president recalled watching the landing as "a little boy sitting in front of our black and white television in the basement of our home in IN".

He spoke about Armstrong and Aldrin running 600 simulations of the Lunar Module landing but still facing an unexpected challenge when an alarm suddenly went off.

"And yet, how calm they were".

"Apollo 11 is the only event in the 20th century that stands a chance of being widely remembered in the 30th century", Pence said.

The ceremony, with its frequent praise of Trump, multiple Republican congressmen and no Democrats and even featuring Trump's pre-rally music, often had the feel of a political rally.

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It makes sense that NASA is pulling out all the stops for the Apollo 11 anniversary.

The next lunar missions will be delivered into space by the Space Launch System, a rocket being developed by NASA and Boeing that will be the largest ever built once it is fully assembled. The vehicle has been grossly over budget and behind schedule, also putting into question NASA's timeline. Launched in Kazakhstan just before 3am GMT on July 13 - three days before Armstrong, Aldrin and Michael Collins took off in a Saturn 5 rocket from Kennedy Space Center in Florida - Luna 15 was an unmanned mission, with the probe weighing 12,500lb.

But both SpaceX and Boeing's capsules have faced major hurdles, including the explosion of a SpaceX spacecraft during testing in April at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. But Collins, attending the event, said he favored going directly to Mars.

Pence, chairing the White House's National Space Council, announced in March an accelerated schedule for NASA to return astronauts to the moon by 2024, halving the USA space agency's previous timeline to get there by 2028 and requesting from Congress a $1.6 billion boost to NASA's fiscal 2020 budget request.

But since that March announcement, the Trump administration has oscillated. The focus, he felt, should be on Mars.

That speech came a little more than 24 hours after President Trump, in a somewhat chaotic media opportunity in the Oval Office marking the Apollo 11 anniversary, appeared willing to reconsider that goal.

At NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Aldrin showed Vice President Mike Pence the launch pad where he flew to the moon in 1969.

The Houston Astros had previously recognised the anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, ten years ago on July 20, 2009 the team wore a similar cap design (along with their previous uniform style) to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the moon landing in a game against the St. Louis Cardinals.

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