US Vice President Pence pays tribute to moon landing 50 years ago

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The USA can look back on one of the greatest successes in its history. Mike Pence leads the celebrations while US President Trump goes golfing.

Fifty years after man first landed on the moon on July 20, 1969 (US time), Americans in many places commemorated the historic event. On Saturday, Vice President Mike Pence paid tribute to the success of the Apollo 11 mission at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. “The moon was a decision, an American decision,” he said. “And for a brief moment, all the peoples of the Earth were truly one.” Pence reaffirmed US plans for a new lunar mission called Artemis, which will bring people to the moon again by 2024. “The next men and the first woman on the moon will be Americans. We will spend weeks and months on the lunar surface,” he announced. “This time we will stay.

In Washington, photos and video recordings of the Apollo mission had already been projected for days onto the 170 meter high Washington Monument, the obelisk in the center of the city’s museum mile. The spectacle has attracted thousands of visitors to tropical temperatures every evening since Tuesday. The Smithsonian Aerospace Museum had also announced a three-day festival. Space fans had also called for a minute’s silence on Saturday at 9.17 p.m. German time, the moment when the landing module with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on board touched down on the moon in 1969. About six hours later they were the first humans to enter the moon.

In Germany, the Zeiss-Großplanetarium in Berlin honoured the anniversary with a moon festival at which the German astronaut Alexander Gerst gave a lecture on Saturday. He would appreciate it if everyone could fly into space once, said the astronaut known as “Astro-Alex”, who has already been on the International Space Station ISS twice. “I’m convinced that it’s good for everyone to see this planet from the outside.” This is good because “you suddenly realize that some things that I thought were important so far may not be important at all”.

Trump golfs instead of celebrating

On Friday, US President Donald Trump had received the two astronauts still alive from the Apollo 11 mission at the White House. The anniversary on Saturday is a “big day” for the USA, Trump said at the meeting with Michael Collins (88) and Buzz Aldrin (89) in the Oval Office. The president also announces publicly again and again a so-called “Space Force” with military forces in space. Details and concrete financing of these ideas are still unclear, the US Congress is so far rather critical. Trump did not take part in the festivities on the weekend and spent Saturday in his golf resort near New York.

The New York Times praised the event in its weekend edition with nearly two dozen special pages. Among other things, it published the original title page from the day after the moon landing and a detailed special about Edward Dwight Junior, an Afro-American astronaut who was trained for the moon mission by the US space agency Nasa, but was ultimately not allowed to participate. (dpa)

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Mette Frederiksen is a The Washington Newsday correspondent. With her coverage of general science, NASA and the interface between technology and society, Frederiksen has been in the Science Desk's Technology Beat since joining Washington Newsday in 2018.

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