apollo 11 john glenn Apollo 11 astronauts, John Glenn receive Congressional Gold MedalThe three astronauts of Apollo 11, the moon landing expedition, Neil Armstrong (above, right), Buzz Aldrin (above, middle right), Michael Collins (above, left) and the first American to orbit the Earth, John Glenn (above, middle left), were all awarded the Congressional Gold Medal Wednesday (Nov. 16), which is the nation’s highest civilian honor.

They are the first astronauts ever to receive the honor, which is described as “the highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions.” Florida Senator Bill Nelson was the initial Congressman who sought this recognition for the astronauts.

This ceremony comes just months after NASA announced major budget problems, but Senator Nelson says he expects the NASA budget of $17.8 billion to be approved by Congress, calling it “a major investment in the next generation of human space flight.”

Neil Armstrong was among those urging Congress not to end the space exploration era for the United States back in September.