Moon back in NASA’s court 50 years after 1st lunar landing

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Fifty years after humanity’s first lunar footsteps, the moon is back in NASA’s court.

The White House wants U.S. astronauts on the moon pronto — by 2024, a scant five years from now. The moon will serve as a critical proving ground, the thinking goes, for the real prize of sending astronauts to Mars in the 2030s.

The billionaires’ space club is on board. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson favor moon before Mars. SpaceX’s Elon Musk also is rooting for the moon, although his heart is on colonizing Mars.

But Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins prefers a beeline to Mars. Buzz Aldrin, too, is a longtime Mars backer.

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