Fifty years ago on Tuesday, three American astronauts set off from Florida for the Moon on a mission that would change the way we see humanity’s place in the universe.
The crew’s surviving members, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, are set to reunite at the same launchpad on Tuesday, the start of a week-long series of events commemorating Apollo 11.
Their commander and the first man on the Moon, Neil Armstrong, passed away in 2012.
But Aldrin and Collins, 89 and 88 respectively, will meet Tuesday at precisely 9:32 am (1332 GMT) at the Kennedy Space Center’s pad 39A to kick off the festivities.
Their spacecraft took four days to reach the Moon, before its lunar module, known as “Eagle,” touched the lunar surface on July 20, 1969. Armstrong emerged a few hours later.
Collins remained in lunar orbit in the command module Columbia, their only means of returning back to Earth.
“They knew, I knew, if they couldn’t get off for some reason there was nothing I could do about it,” he told reporters in New York in May as part of a series of events. “I had no landing gear on Columbia, I could not go down and rescue them.”
Aldrin has remained relatively more elusive but has also taken part in a few events, including a gala dinner last Saturday where the cheapest ticket cost $1,000.
Aging but active on Twitter, and always seen in stars-and-stripes socks, Aldrin has faced health scares and family feuds, culminating in a court case over finances, which was settled in March.
On Tuesday, he will be the undeniable star of the show, as the second man to have stepped foot on the Moon. Only four of the 12 men who have done so remain alive.
– Uncertain future –
Despite the festivities, neither the US nor any other country has managed to return a human to the Moon since 1972, the year of the final Apollo mission.
President George Bush promised to do so in 1989, as did his son president George W Bush in 2004, while pledging to also march forward to Mars.
But they both ran up against a Congress that wasn’t inclined to fund the adventures, with public opinion markedly changed since the height of the Cold War.
For his part, President Donald Trump relaunched the race to re-conquer the Moon and Mars after taking office in 2017. But the immediate effect has been to create turbulence within the space agency.
Last week, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine fired the head of the human space exploration directorate Bill Gerstenmaier, likely over disagreements over the 2024 ultimatum set by Trump to return an American to the Moon.
Five years appears unlikely given that neither the rocket, capsule or lander are yet ready or even finalized.
“We don’t have a lot of time to waste, if we’re going to have new leadership, it needs to happen now,” Bridenstine told CSPAN last week.
Harvey Weinstein to face new indictment in #MeToo sexual assault trial
Fallen movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, who is awaiting trial on two sexual assault charges, will return to court next week to hear a new indictment against him, prosecutors said Thursday.
Weinstein, 67, will appear in a New York state court on Monday, said a spokesman for the Manhattan District Attorney, declining to comment on the details of the indictment.
He added, however, that it did not contain new charges and that the film producer's trial would start as scheduled on September 9.
The indictment is likely to allow another alleged victim of Weinstein to testify at the trial.
El Paso hospital forced to call out Trump’s lie that surgeons left the operating room to see him
President Donald Trump bragged that he got an overwhelming welcome from Ohio and Texas when he went to visit survivors of the mass shootings before his latest vacation. Now, however, El Paso's University Medical Center is being forced to dispute the president's account of events.
"Not only did they meet with me, they were pouring out of the room. The doctors were coming out of the operating rooms. There were hundreds and hundreds of people all over the floor. You couldn’t even walk on it. So, you know, there’s a lot to happen," Trump told reporters on the White House lawn Wednesday.
Priest bound and gagged teen boy with masking tape and held him hostage in church’s janitor room
A Michigan Catholic priest has been charged with one count of false imprisonment after he wrapped a teenage boy in plastic wrap and covered his eyes and mouth with masking tape, all while trapping him in the janitor's room of a church, ClickOnDetroit reports.
Rev. Brian Stanley, 57, faces up to 15 years in prison and would also have to register as a sex offender if convicted.
Stanley was reportedly entrusted by the teen's family as a counselor before the incident took place in the fall of 2013 at St. Margaret's Catholic Church in Otsego.