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

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — The moon is back in NASA’s court 50 years after humanity’s first lunar footsteps.

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

The billionaires’ space club including Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson and Elon Musk is on board.

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

NASA’s Project Artemis aims for a landing on the moon’s south pole. The space agency says astronauts on the next moon landing will spend a longer time on the lunar surface unlike the Apollo missions.

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