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US remembers Apollo 11 mission 50 years on

Fifty years ago, astronaut Buzz Aldrin and Niel Armstrong, took the first steps on the moon. The moment unified hundreds of millions of people worldwide in a way never seen before or since.

A mighty Saturn V rocket set off from Florida carrying the first humans to the Moon, a veteran of the Apollo 11 crew returned to the fabled launch pad on Tuesday to commemorate the event that defined an era.

FILE – In this July 16, 1969 file photo, from right, Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin walk to the van that will take the crew to the launchpad at Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, Florida. (AP Photo/File)

Astronaut Michael Collins, who orbited the moon as Armstrong and Aldrin explored the surface,said, “how often can you get people around our globe to agree on anything? Hardly ever.”

The now-88-year-old added, “It was a wonderful achievement in the sense that people everywhere around the planet applauded it: north, south, east, west, rich, poor, Communist, whatever.”

The moment was the result of eight years of work by more than 400,000 people and billions of dollars. After six more missions, the Apollo programme was ended in 1972.

In this July 20, 1969 photo made available by NASA, Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin works on a solar wind experiment device on the surface of the moon. (Neil Armstrong/NASA via AP)

Fifty years later, the United States is at it again. This time, aiming to send astronauts back to the moon by 2024, four years earlier than initially planned.

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