When American astronauts make the next "giant leap" by launching to Mars, they will bring with them a memento from the first moon landing 45 years ago.
NASA's chief presented Kennedy Space Center in Florida with a mission patch that Apollo 11 crewmates Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins carried to the moon in 1969. The patch will be held at the spaceport until the first crew is ready to lift off for the Red Planet on a mission NASA plans for the 2030s.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden gave the framed emblem to Kennedy Space Center director Robert Cabana during a ceremony to rename the historic Operations and Checkout Building for the late Neil Armstrong, the first man to step foot on the moon. Aldrin and Collins attended the event to pay tribute to their Apollo 11 commander.
"At NASA, we're working on the next giant leap — a human mission to Mars, standing on the shoulders of astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins," Bolden said in a recent statement marking the 45th anniversary of the moon landing. "In the spirit of this brave crew, we look forward to a new generation of NASA achievements."
The Mars-destined Apollo 11 patch is one of a small lot of emblems that were silkscreened on the same glass fiber cloth that covered the crew's spacesuits, and which were flown to the moon as souvenirs for presentation back on Earth. On July 20, 1987, on the 18th anniversary of their mission, Aldrin and Collins gave the patch to then-NASA chief James Fletcher at the Case for Mars conference at the University of Colorado in Boulder.
"Carried to the moon aboard Apollo 11," Collins inscribed across the top of the Beta cloth patch. "Presented to the Mars 1 crew."
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