Forty-five years ago, on July 20, 1969, millions of people worldwide witnessed the historic landing of the Apollo 11 on the surface of the moon. The event has since become the inspiration of innovations in technologies and space explorations.
The Apollo 11 was manned by three astronauts who are now hailed as technological heroes: Neil Armstrong, Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, Jr. and Michael Collins but after nearly half a century of looking back at their successful landing on the moon, astronauts Aldrin and Collins now celebrate the anniversary of man's giant leap without Armstrong, the mission's commander and the first man who stepped on the moon. Armstrong died nearly two years ago at 82 years old.
On the 45th anniversary of the landing on the moon, the two astronauts, along with Armstrong's widow Carol, marked their day with a private conversation with President Barack Obama at the President's Oval Office at the White House. Tuesday's commemoration did not have the same TV coverage and suspense as it had when the American astronauts planted the American flag on the lunar surface. The meeting with the president was rather private.
News photographers were allowed to take photos of the meeting but no television crews and reporters were present at the private conversation, which was also attended by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) administrator Charles Bolden and Patricia Falcone, Associate Director for National Security and International Affairs at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
In a statement on his meeting with the Apollo 11 crew and their family, President Obama said he is honored to welcome Aldrin, Collins and Armstrong's wife Carol, to the White House to commemorate the 45th anniversary of the moon landing.
"Today, I was honored to welcome Buzz, Michael, and Neil's wife, Carol, to the White House to mark this historic anniversary - and to thank them for serving as advocates, role models, and educators who've inspired generations of Americans - myself included - to dream bigger and reach higher," the president said.
The President has likewise mentioned in his statement about man's next giant leap, bringing man to the surface of Mars noting that NASA is making preparations to make manned missions to the red planet possible in the future. The President's enthusiasm over the next major space exploration is shared by Buzz who said that man should not go back to the moon but head for the planet Mars instead.