July 20, 2009

Apollo 11 crew favors Mars over moon

The United States should send humans to Mars, not back to the moon, the crew of Apollo 11 said in a rare joint appearance in Washington.

Neil Armstrong, 78, the first man to walk on the moon, Buzz Aldrin, 79, and Michael Collins, 78, appeared together Sunday on the eve of the 40th anniversary of the first human moon landing.

They lamented NASA is working to return astronauts to the moon, rather than prepare for a great adventure to Mars, USA Today reported Monday.

America, do you still dream great dreams, Aldrin asked. Do you still believe in yourself? Are you ready for a great national challenge?

On July 20, 1969, Aldrin and Armstrong set foot on the moon, while Collins remained in orbit, piloting the Columbia spacecraft that would return them to Earth.

The three were to meet Monday with President Barack Obama, who last year endorsed President George W. Bush's plan to send astronauts back to the moon, but last month ordered a panel of space experts to reconsider that goal.