“NASA’s Curiosity heads for Mars, and opens a new chapter for mankind” by Kevin Orrman-Rossiter

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On July 20, 1969 Neil Armstrong uttered one of the most remembered quotes of the 20th century, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind….” Millions of people heard these words as they watched, via grainy black and white television images, Neil Armstrong step from the landing pad of the Lunar Module onto the surface of the Moon.

With that single step Neil Armstrong became the first human to step foot onto a celestial body other than the Earth. He was joined 14 minutes later by Buzz Aldrin.

To date, 12 people have stepped foot on the Moon. The last Apollo mission was Apollo 17 in December 1972; Apollo 18, 19 and 20 were scrapped due to rising costs.

At 2:21am (AEDT) on November 26, 2011, the Mars Science Laboratory will launch from Cape Canaveral in Florida. The payload of this spaceship is not humans. Rather, it’s a remarkable 899 kilogram, six-wheeled Martian rover named Curiosity.

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Published in The Conversation, November 24, 2011.

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