The 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing in July is a chance to reflect on that event’s significance and the prospect of a mission to Mars.
On 20 July, 1969, there was a moment in human history unlike any other.
For the first time, humans set foot on an extra-terrestrial land as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin spent two-and-a-half hours on the surface of the Moon.
It had been a touch-and-go landing. Armstrong manually piloted the Eagle lander to avoid a boulder field in the Sea of Tranquillity and it touched down with just 30 seconds of fuel left.
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In the final seconds of the descent, a number of alarms went off as the onboard computer struggled to cope. “Houston. Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed,” said Armstrong over the radio to wild celebrations on Earth.
Ahead of the 50th anniversary, people across the UK are being asked to share their memories of the moon landing because it was such an extraordinary landmark event. It was, as Armstrong famously said, “a giant leap for mankind”.
Nasa is now aiming to return to the Moon by 2024 and plans a mission to Mars by 2033. If and when that most exciting event happens, it will truly be a second great leap forward.