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NASA Honors Historic First Moon Landing, Eyes First Mars Mission

Companies mentioned in this article: NASA

WASHINGTON, July 14, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- NASA marks the 45th anniversary of the first moon landing this month while it takes the steps needed for America's next giant leap to send astronauts to Mars.

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NASA's Apollo 11 crew landed on the moon July 20, 1969. The world watched 45 years ago as astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set their lunar module Eagle down in the Sea of Tranquility, while crewmate Michael Collins orbited above in the command module Columbia.

The agency will commemorate Armstrong's "one giant leap for mankind" through a number of events across, and above, the United States during the next two weeks, as well as on the agency's website and NASA Television.

On Friday, July 18 at 1:30 p.m. EDT, NASA TV will air a discussion about the future of space exploration between scientists and actor, director, and narrator Morgan Freeman, live from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. The event also will include NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman participating from the International Space Station.

Also on Friday at 3:30 p.m., NASA will host a discussion with Buzz Aldrin and astronaut Mike Massimino at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York during the Intrepid Space and Science Festival. NASA also will have exhibits and activities at the festival Thursday, July 17 - Saturday, July 19. For more information about the festival, visit http://www.intrepidmuseum.org/SpaceandScienceFestival.aspx

On Sunday, July 20 at 10:39 p.m., when Armstrong opened the spacecraft hatch to begin the first spacewalk on the moon, NASA TV will replay the restored footage of Armstrong and Aldrin's historic steps on the lunar surface.

On Monday, July 21 at 10 a.m. from the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, NASA TV will air live coverage of the renaming of the center's Operations and Checkout Building in honor of Armstrong, who passed away in 2012. The renaming ceremony will include NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, Kennedy Center Director Robert Cabana, Apollo 11's Collins, Aldrin and astronaut Jim Lovell, who was the mission's back-up commander. International Space Station NASA astronauts Wiseman and Steve Swanson, who is the current station commander, also will take part in the ceremony from their orbiting laboratory 260 miles above Earth.

Kennedy's Operations and Checkout Building has played a vital role in NASA's spaceflight history. It was used during the Apollo program to process and test the command, service and lunar modules. Today, the facility is being used to process and assemble NASA's Orion spacecraft, which the agency will use to send astronauts to an asteroid in the 2020s and Mars in the 2030s.

On Thursday, July 24 at 6 p.m. EDT, which is the 45th anniversary of Apollo 11's return to Earth, the agency will host a panel discussion -- called NASA's Next Giant Leap -- from Comic-Con International in San Diego, California. Moderated by actor Seth Green, the panel includes Aldrin, NASA Planetary Science Division Director Jim Green, JPL systems engineer Bobak Ferdowsi, and NASA astronaut Mike Fincke, who will talk about Orion and the Space Launch System rocket, which will carry humans on America's next great adventure in space.

NASA.gov will host features, videos, and historic images and audio clips that highlight the Apollo 11 anniversary, as well as the future of human spaceflight. To explore all the special content, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/apollo45

To join the ongoing conversation on social media about the anniversary and NASA's deep space exploration plans, use the hashtags #NextGiantLeap and #Apollo45.

For NASA TV streaming video, downlink and scheduling information, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv

For information about the activities, planning and preparations for the next giant leap in space exploration, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/exploration

SOURCE NASA