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For release: 07/20/04
Release #: 04-191  

35th anniversary of Apollo moon landing sees NASA preparing for bold new exploration missions

As NASA marks the 35th anniversary of the first lunar landing, the Marshall Center is looking to the future to fulfill its role in the Vision for Space Exploration. The Vision calls for a return to the Moon, followed by human and robotic journeys of discovery to other destinations in the Solar System.


The success of the Apollo 11 mission that landed NASA astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin on the Moon July 20, 1969, was a defining moment that opened a new era in human history. Today, as NASA marks the 35 th anniversary of that first lunar landing, the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., celebrates the role it played in the Apollo program. Under the leadership of its first director, Dr. Wernher von Braun, the Marshall Center developed the Saturn V rocket that carried our astronauts to the Moon.

In a post-flight press conference, Armstrong called the flight "a beginning of a new age." Even then, Astronaut Michael Collins — who orbited the Moon in command module Columbia while his colleagues made the historic Moon landing in their lunar module Eagle — talked about future journeys to Mars.

"The world experienced its greatest technology achievement when NASA astronaut Neil Armstrong first stepped on the surface of the Moon, taking a "giant leap" for humanity. That event captured the imagination of the nation and inspired a new generation of space explorers," said Marshall Center Director David King. "As we observe this anniversary NASA is embarking upon a new journey of discovery."

The Marshall Center is looking to the future, working to fulfill its role in implementing the Vision for Space Exploration which calls for a return to the Moon followed by human and robotic journeys of discovery to other destinations in the solar system.

The Marshall Center, with its expertise in space transportation systems, space propulsion, microgravity science, space systems and more, will play a significant role in fulfilling the Vision for Space Exploration. Goals include safely returning the Space Shuttle to flight; focusing the use of the Shuttle to complete assembly of the International Space Station; and retiring the Shuttle as soon as the Space Station is completed, around the end of the decade.

NASA's longer terms goals, which will unfold over future generations, include:

  • A sustained and affordable human and robotic program to explore the solar system and beyond.
  • Extending human presence across the solar system, starting with a human return to the Moon before the year 2020, in preparation for human exploration of Mars and other destinations.
  • Developing innovative technologies, knowledge and infrastructures to explore and support decisions about the destinations for human exploration.
  • Promoting international and commercial participation in exploration to further U.S. scientific, security and economic interests.

For more information:
News release


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