Buzz Aldrin was the pilot of Apollo 11, and Michael Collins was the command module pilot. They are the two surviving members of the half-a-century old mission to the moon. They attended an Oval Office photo-op with President Donald Trump. First Lady Melania Trump and Vice President Mike Pence also attended. It was a part of the Apollo 11 anniversary fever. The president described the mission as “one of the greatest achievements ever.” Aldrin’s companion Anca Faur accompanied him while Collins had his two daughters and grandchildren with him.

Others with links to the past were the two sons of Neil Armstrong who was the commander of the mission. He died in 2012.

Daily Mail UK reports, the President used the occasion to quiz Aldrin and Collins about the present-day space program. Collins mentioned the subject of private investment in space flight. He said private investors like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are playing a major role. Collins also expressed appreciation or Musk's concept for reusable propulsion systems because it brings efficiency into the operations.

The President talked about Mars

Donald Trump was curious to know about getting to Mars, keen to know whether the route to Mars would be via the Moon. He put the question to NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine who explained that the Moon was a proving ground.

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He elaborated that humans must get accustomed to living and working on another world. That is where the moon comes in.

Daily Mail UK went on to add that when the president asked Collin's opinion, he replied – “Mars direct.” Trump agreed with him and asked 89-year-old Aldrin to have his say.

The astronaut expressed disappointment over the way the space program was going over the last decade and a half. Buzz Aldrin is the second of 12 men who set foot on the Moon. Only four of them are still alive.

Fiftieth anniversary of moon landing

According to ABC News, the Oval Office played host to astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins who were the first humans on the moon. They met President Donald Trump on the eve of the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 moon landing. Their discussions touched upon subjects like getting astronauts back on the moon by 2024 with eyes on Mars in the 2030s.

There were discussions on whether astronauts could get to Mars without first going to the moon. Collins agreed with the president and said he supports a direct trip to Mars instead of via the moon. However, NASA administrator Joe Bridenstine explained the importance of the moon. He said it was a sort of training ground. He went on to add that in view of the planetary alignment, launches to Mars could occur only every 26 months. Moreover, the trip to the red planet is seven months each way. In order to commemorate the 50th anniversary, vice president Mike Pence visited the launch pad at Florida's Kennedy Space Center from where Apollo 11 blasted off.

The U.S. Postal Service also issued its "1969: First Moon Landing Forever" stamps Friday, at Kennedy.

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