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America Marks 40th Anniversary of Apollo 11 Moon Landing

U.S. President Barack Obama is reaffirming his commitment to space exploration as America marks the 40th anniversary of the first moon landing.

Barack Obama was only seven years old when Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the moon.

But he still has memories of those days. He recalls standing on his grandfather's shoulders in his native state of Hawaii, waiting for the Apollo 11 space capsule to be plucked from the Pacific Ocean and brought to shore.

"And I remember waving flags and my grandfather telling me that the Apollo mission was an example of how Americans can do anything they put their minds to," said President Obama.

Forty years later, President Obama welcomed the Apollo 11 crew to the White House and spoke of their heroic flight that inspired generations of Americans.

He called Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin three genuine heroes.

"It is because of the heroism, the calm under pressure, the grace with which these three gentlemen operated, but also the entire NASA family that was able to, at great risk oftentimes and with great danger, was somehow able to lift our sights - not just here in the United States, but around the world," said Mr. Obama.

The president said the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA, will do all it can in the years ahead to continue its inspirational mission. And he pledged his support for the agency.

"We expect that there's, as we speak, another generation of kids out there who are looking up at the sky and are going to be the next Armstrong, Collins and Aldrin," he said. "And we want to make sure that NASA is going to be there for them when they want to take their journey."

The president did not go into specifics, and the Apollo 11 crew did not offer any suggestions during their public appearance at the White House.

But earlier, Buzz Aldrin - the second man to walk on the moon - took part in a NASA news conference where he pushed for a new round of space exploration, with the goal of sending astronauts to Mars.

"And I think we are getting back to what NASA and what the country really likes to see and that is exploration," said Buzz Aldrin. "To me, exploration is going to someplace you have never been before."

A detailed review of NASA's manned flight program is currently underway, and a report to the president outlining options for the future is due next month.