40th Anniversary of First Man on the Moon

July 20, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Monday marks a milestone that's being celebrated on earth and in space."That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

On July 20, 1969, millions of Americans were transfixed as Neil Armstrong delivered those words and images of that first lunar landing, were beamed back to earth.

Armstrong's moon walk, with his colleague Buzz Aldrin, was the apex of NASA's Apollo missions of the nineteen sixties and seventies.

"We saw it as a very methodical, steady approach to what we had to do, with certain squares that had to be filled in, and fortunately, they were all successful," said Apollo 7 Lunar Module Pilot Walt Cunningham.

Apollo 11 landed the first men on the moon. Three years later, Apollo 17 landed the last. U.S. astronauts have gone no further.

Funding for the once ambitious space program has slipped, though President Obama is considering more funding, as well as a return mission to the moon. Still concerns linger that the U.S. lags behind countries like Russia in the next space race to mars.

"They've got people in seclusion for 500 days to simulate mars missions. We're not doing that," said Apollo 11 Astronaut Buzz Aldrin.

Monday, hopes that a celebration of one small step, inspire more.

"Oh, it's beautiful, Mike, it really is."

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