Apollo 11: 50 years on, the world celebrates the Moon landing

On July 20, 1969, millions of people around the world watched on TV as Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong took his historic step into the pages of history.

A breathtaking achievement, the mission delivered on President Kennedy’s 1961 promise to land an American on the Moon by the end of that decade. With the American Flag flying proudly on the Sea of Tranquility, the U.S. had finally won its space race with the Soviet Union.

The Moon landing was also a truly global event. An estimated 650 million people around the world watched the Moon landing on TV, according to NASA.

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Events were held across the globe to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing. European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst, for example, attended an event at Planetarium Berlin.

The Parkes Radio telescope in Australia, which was one of three tracking stations that received the Moon landing broadcast, commemorated the incredible events of July 20, 1969.

In London, the Science Museum is celebrating Apollo 11 with a summerlong festival of space.

Apollo 11 Lunar Module Pilot Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the Moon, and Command Module Pilot Michael Collins, attended an event at the White House Friday to commemorate the epic mission. Family members of Armstrong, who passed away in 2012, were also present.

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“Tomorrow will represent 50 years from the time we planted a beautiful American flag on the moon,” said President Donald Trump. The Moon landing, he added, is “considered one of the great achievements ever.”

“50 years ago history was made when three American astronauts landed on the moon!,” tweeted Vice President Mike Pence, who is chairman of the national space council.

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Aldrin, however, voiced his disappointment over America’s space progress since the days of Apollo 11.

50 years later, Armstrong’s famous first steps on the lunar surface remain the iconic moment of the Apollo missions.

Approximately 234,000 miles away, his sons Mark and Rick were at home in Houston, watching on TV, as their father made history.

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Rick was 12 years old when his father stepped out of the Eagle lunar module and proclaimed “One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

“When he stepped off, nobody in the room heard what the words were because they were all ‘what did he say?’” Rick told Fox News, in a recent interview. “I heard it, and I said ‘something about a small step,’ but at the time, it wasn’t at all clear what was going on, I always remember that.”

Collins orbited the Moon in the Columbia Command Module while Armstrong and Aldrin explored the lunar surface. "Being close to the Moon was wonderful, but looking at Earth, it was this tiny little thing, blue and white and very shiny," he told Fox News, in a recent interview. "It projected an aura of great fragility and the more you dig into it, the more you realize how fragile it really is."

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After Armstrong and Aldrin, only 10 more men, all Americans, would walk on the Moon. The last NASA astronaut to set foot on the lunar surface was Apollo 17 Mission Commander Gene Cernan on Dec. 14, 1972.

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Be sure to catch the America’s News HQ Apollo 11 50th anniversary special on Fox News on Saturday, July 20 at 12 PM EDT.

Fox News’ Chris Ciaccia contributed to this article.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers