For the first time, a major anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing was marked at the White House without the mission's commander, Neil Armstrong.
Tuesday's 45th-anniversary sitdown in the Oval Office included President Barack Obama and Apollo 11 astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, the two surviving members of the mission. Armstrong passed away nearly two years ago at the age of 82, but his widow, Carol, attended in his stead.
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After the photo op, the White House issued a statement in which Obama thanked the astronauts for "serving as advocates, role models, and educators who've inspired generations of Americans – myself included – to dream bigger and reach higher." He said NASA was building on Apollo 11's legacy "by preparing for the next giant leap in human exploration" — a leap that would eventually lead to the surface of Mars.
For an insider's perspective on Apollo 11, give a listen to an hourlong "Virtually Speaking Science" podcast featuring NBC News' Jay Barbree, author of the best-selling book "Neil Armstrong: A Life of Flight."
First published July 22 2014, 10:36 AM
Alan Boyle is the science editor for NBC News Digital. He joined MSNBC.com at its inception in July 1996, and took on the science role in July 1997 with the landing of NASA's Mars Pathfinder probe. Boyle is responsible for coverage of science and space for NBCNews.com.
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Boyle joined NBCNews.com from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, where he was the foreign desk editor from 1987 to 1996. Boyle has won awards for science journalism from numerous organizations, including the National Academies, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Association of Science Writers. Boyle is the author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference." He lives in Bellevue, Wash.