Moon pioneers call for global collaboration

WASHINGTON • Mr Michael Collins, one of three astronauts on Nasa’s historic Moon-landing mission 50 years ago, has called on the United States to continue to be a power in space exploration, but said international collaboration is key.

“We ought to bend over backwards to have a unified approach to the things we are doing in space,” he said. He acknowledged that that could slow advances, but said collaboration is more important. Mr Collins, 88, the astronaut who commanded the lunar module while fellow Americans Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the Moon, participated in a panel discussion, one of several events in Washington marking the anniversary.

Mr Collins, Mr Armstrong and Mr Aldrin were astronauts of the Apollo 11 mission that landed the first humans on the Moon on July 20, 1969. Mr Collins said that when he saw the US flag planted on the Moon, he was thrilled and it made him proud to be an American, but a diplomatic world tour he and the other two astronauts took after the mission “opened my vistas”. Mr Armstrong died in 2012.

Mr Collins recalled how it struck him that people were most impressed not that it was an American achievement, but that it was an achievement for all humanity.

Mr Aldrin, 89, who also appeared at the event, agreed that there is a need for more international collaboration and advocated an international space alliance. Recalling Mr Armstrong’s famous words, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”, he said: “I think a number of us are still waiting for that giant leap.”


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