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Apollo 11 Landed on the Moon July 20, 1969

10:37 AM, Jul 20, 2011   |    comments
Apollo 11 footprint, July 20, 1969
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KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. -- Forty-two years ago today, the Eagle landed.

The anniversary of the world's first landing on the moon comes as America's last shuttle continues soaring for one more day before the nation that put Neil Armstrong on the moon will have no manned space program.

PICTURES: Nation Visits Cape Canaveral for Atlantis Liftoff

Apollo 11 lifted off on July 16, spending the next four days speeding nearly a quarter of a million miles toward the moon, landing on July 20, 1969.

Hours after the landing, Armstrong took the most famous "small step" in history.

PICTURES: Atlantis Liftoff

The landing was the culmination of America's first manned efforts in space: Mercury, Gemini and Apollo.

Five more successful landings followed, and man last left the moon in December 1972.

Skylab and a space meeting with a Soviet spacecraft in orbit followed in the 1970s, and the shuttle has been America's program since Columbia's first liftoff in 1981.

With the International Space Station completed, the shuttle fleet -- Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour -- are destined for museums.

The future is, well, up in the air.

President Obama has directed NASA to concentrate on landing on an asteroid or Mars, scrubbing former President George W. Bush's plan to return to the moon.

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