One giant leap for mankind: World marks 50 years since first step on the moon

This weekend marks 50 years since astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first person to walk on the lunar surface.

The landing craft carrying the Apollo 11 Commander and fellow astronaut Buzz Aldrin touched down on the moon on July 20 1969, before Armstrong stepped out and onto the surface, declaring: "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind."

Armstrong made history as he placed his left foot on the moon at 3.56am UK time on July 21, making him the first human to ever step on anything that has not existed on or originated from the Earth.

Aldrin followed a few moments later, as their colleague Michael Collins waited in the command module in orbit around the moon.

As the world marvelled 50 years ago, interest in the moon remains high today with ambitions to return after the last Apollo mission in 1972.

Apollo 11 timeline
Apollo 11 timeline (PA Graphics)

US Vice President Mike Pence has told Nasa that President Donald Trump wants astronauts back on the moon within five years, while multinational plans are in the works for a new space station around it.

The UK Space Agency is bidding to play a part in the communication and refuelling elements of the proposed Lunar Orbital Platform – Gateway, a future outpost intended to serve as a laboratory and short-term accommodation post for astronauts exploring the moon.

Apollo 11: lunar module
Apollo 11: lunar module (PA Graphics)

Collins, who attended a celebration at Kennedy Space Centre's Launch Complex 39A in Florida on Tuesday, described it as a "wonderful feeling" to be back at the spot where the Saturn V rocket blasted the trio off into space.

"Apollo 11 ... was serious business," he said.

"We, crew, felt the weight of the world on our shoulders. We knew that everyone would be looking at us, friend or foe, and we wanted to do the best we possibly could."

For much of the week, people from all walks of life have been sharing their own memories of Apollo 11, but interest has not stopped at those able to witness the historic feat, with events carried out across the globe.

How we went to the moon
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How we went to the moon

Aldrin walking on the moon.

Aldrin stands near a scientific experiment on the lunar surface.

Aldrin salutes the flag they planted on the surface of the moon.

Apollo 11 astronauts (left to right) Aldrin, Collins, and Armstrong leaving crew quarters to enter the Astrovan for the ride to Launch Pad 39A.

NASA officials join the flight controllers in celebrating the conclusion of the Apollo 11 mission.

Apollo 11 lunar module rising above the moon to rendezvous with command module before heading home.

The American flag at Tranquility Base on the Moon, planted by the Apollo 11 astronauts.

Armstrong's footprint on the moon.

Spectators as they watch (and film) the launch of NASA's Apollo 11 space mission from a concrete ledge at Cape Kennedy (later Cape Canaveral) on July 16, 1969.

A ring of condensation forms around the Saturn V rocket as it compresses the air around it during the launch of Apollo 11.

A pre-launch twilight photo of the The Apollo 11 Saturn V space vehicle.

Prelaunch breakfast in crew quarters with Armstrong, Collins, and Aldrin.

the International Arrival Building at John F. Kennedy International Airport shows a crowd of passengers as they watch a large screen television that broadcasts the Apollo 11 moon landing mission, New York

Vice President Spiro Agnew and former President Lyndon Johnson view the liftoff of Apollo 11 from the stands located at the Kennedy Space Center VIP viewing site.

Aldrin inside the Eagle on the way to the Moon.

Aldrin does science experiments on the moon.

The Command Module, as taken from the Lunar Module, during its orbit of the moon.

Apollo 11 mission officials relaxing in the Launch Control Center at Kennedy Space Center on July 16, 1969.

AS11-40-5902 (20 July 1969) --- Astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot, walks on the surface of the moon near a leg of the Lunar Module during the Apollo 11 extravehicular activity (EVA). Astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, Apollo 11

Aldrin descends the steps of the Lunar Module ladder as he prepares to walk on the Moon.

A photo of Aldrin, taken by Armstrong.

Collins during Apollo 11's first around the Earth.

These Photos of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing Will Leave You in Awe

Armstrong after his historic walk on moon.

Fifty years ago, the Apollo 11 space mission took its place in global history.I remember watching the Apollo 11 moon landing. It was an amazing achievement, enabled by a brilliant team of engineers, scientists and technicians at Nasa. I was still at school and we were utterly awed by the engineering and ingenuity that made it happen. The posters on my wall at university were the famous shot of Neil Armstrong on the moon and the Blue Planet from space.Today, half a century later, it's important to remember how crucial the inspiration of that one small step was to a new generation of engineers around the world – it would underpin so many of the innovations we take for granted today. Here in the UK, a "new Britain" was being forged in the "white heat" of technology. 1969 saw the MacRobert Award for Engineering Innovation presented for the first time. Established by the MacRobert Trust, the medal features a man leaping for the moon to commemorate the lunar landing, and the £50,000 prize recognises those that meet three key criteria – commercial success, societal benefit, and true innovation.In a year that saw Americans on the moon, the judges had a tough decision as to who should win that first award for British innovation. They announced joint winners: a team from Freeman, Fox and Partners for the aerodynamic deck design of the Severn Bridge – later used for long-span bridges all over the world – and a team from Rolls-Royce for the Pegasus engine that powered the Harrier, the world’s first vertical take-off and landing aircraft.Since 1969, the global influence of winning British innovations has been maintained, with a host of world firsts, including the CT scanner in 1972, the first bionic hand in 2008 and Raspberry Pi, the world’s most affordable computer, in 2017.Landing on the moon gave the whole world a new perspective on our planet, in particular the fragility of our environment. It is only fitting therefore that our 50th anniversary winner is already reducing the carbon footprint of commercial flight – Bombardier’s advanced composite aircraft wing is the first certified commercial aircraft wing made using resin transfer infusion. This new technique, developed in their world-leading Belfast facility, uses less energy, fewer parts and results in a lighter wing. The carbon composite wing is approximately 10 per cent lighter than a metal wing, reducing fuel burn and emissions.As we celebrate the achievements of the Apollo programme’s engineers and astronauts in the late 60s, it is crucial that we continue to support the generations who carry forward their legacy.Inspired by innovation, today’s young engineers know that nothing is impossible in meeting the grand challenges we have to face in the future.Dr Dame Sue Ion DBE FREng FRS, is chair of the UK Nuclear Innovation Research Advisory Board and chair of the judging panel for the MacRobert Award for engineering innovation

According to a survey by Lego of 1,000 children aged between eight and 12, 90% want to learn more about space, while 87% were able to correctly identify Armstrong as the first person to walk on the moon.

Professor Mike Cruise, president of the Royal Astronomical Society, said: "I was a young space scientist when the Apollo 11 spacecraft landed, but the memory of this extraordinary moment has stayed with me throughout my life.

"The grand ambitions of the Apollo programme inspired people around the world and the 50th anniversary is a special moment.

"It is a time to reflect not only on the heroism of the astronauts and the amazing talents of all those involved in the missions, but to think big once again about exploring space, and the exciting prospects for those considering careers in science."

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