Left - Portrait of the Apollo 11 crew: Neil Armstrong, commander (on left); Michael
Collins, command module pilot (mid); and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, lunar
module pilot. Right - The crewmen leave the Kennedy Space Center's
Manned Spacecraft Operations Building during the prelaunch countdown, then
are loaded into the van for the drive to Launch Complex 39A.
July 16, 1969. Left - Liftoff of the Apollo
11 Lunar Landing Mission as the 363 ft. tall space vehicle is launched from
Kennedy Space Center at 9:37 a.m. Mid - View from the launch tower
of the smoke and flames from the five engines of the Saturn V rocket which
generate 7.5 million pounds of thrust. Right - The launch tower is
cleared. Twelve minutes later, the astronauts are in orbit 120 miles above
the Earth at 17,400 mph, then begin their four day journey to the Moon, nearly
a quarter of a million miles away.
Magnificent view of Earth, showing Africa, Europe
and Asia taken by the Apollo 11 crew about 98,000 nautical miles from Earth.
Sunday, July 20, landing day. Left - Astronaut
Neil Armstrong in the lunar module. Right - Astronaut Buzz Aldrin in
the lunar module.
Left - Landing approach to the southwestern
edge of the Sea of Tranquility as seen from the lunar module. The landing
site is located just right of center at the edge of darkness. The crater Maskelyne
is the large one at the lower right. Mid - The lunar module "Eagle,"
now separated, as seen from the command module before its descent to the surface. Right - Artist's concept of the "Eagle" landing on the surface
of the moon, establishing "Tranquility Base." In reality, at an
altitude of 500 feet, the astronauts discovered the smooth plain they expected
was actually a crater lined with boulders. Armstrong then piloted to a more
suitable spot as landing fuel ran very low. Read more about
Left - Telecast of Neil Armstrong descending
the lunar module ladder just prior to taking his first step on the moon. The
TV camera automatically deployed after Armstrong pulled on a special ring.
As he stepped onto the moon's surface he proclaimed, "That's one small
step for man, one giant leap for mankind" - inadvertently omitting an
"a" before "man" and slightly changing the meaning. Mid - Close-up
of the footprint from the first step. Right - Buzz Aldrin poses for
a photo beside the United States flag. The lunar module is seen on the left.
Numerous footprints are now clearly visible in the fine grained, powder-like
Left - Buzz Aldrin faces the camera as
his helmet reflects the lunar module and Neil Armstrong taking his picture.
Armstrong kept the camera and took many photos of Buzz, but none were actually
taken of him. Mid - At Mission Control, the large television screen
shows the astronauts on the moon. They then received a live message from President
Nixon. Right - Buzz Aldrin after deployment of
scientific experiments including a seismograph for detecting lunar quakes
and a laser reflector to bounce back beams from Earth to calculate the exact
distance to the moon. The astronauts spent a total of 2.5 hours walking on
the lunar surface in gravity only one-sixth as powerful as Earth's. They then
went back into the lunar module to rest and prepare for departure.
July 21, departure after 22 hours on the moon. Left - Artist's concept of the firing of the ascent engine as the lunar
module ascent stage is launched. The descent stage serves as a launch base and remains on the
lunar surface. It bears a plaque with a unique inscription. Right - The lunar module making its docking approach
to the command module in lunar orbit as Earth rises above the horizon. Astronaut
Michael Collins had remained in the command module in orbit while his fellow
crewmen explored the lunar surface.
July 24, splashdown after 8 days, 3 hours, 18
minutes. Left - The command module afloat in the Pacific Ocean, 825
miles from Hawaii. The astronauts are wearing biological isolation suits as
a precaution against any "moon germs." Mid - At Mission Control
a spontaneous celebration of the successful conclusion of the Apollo 11 Lunar
Landing Mission. Right - President Richard M. Nixon greets the Apollo
11 Astronauts, who are now quarantined, aboard the U.S.S. Hornet.
Left - In Hawaii, the Mobile Quarantine
Facility containing the astronauts is offloaded from the U.S.S. Hornet. The
Facility was then transported to NASA in Houston. Mid - The astronauts
dine together during the tedious weeks of quarantine at the Lunar Receiving
Lab where they were tested extensively for any signs of exotic infection. Right - August 10, after a clean bill of health and release from quarantine,
Neil Armstrong is greeted by friends in the crew reception area.
A close-up view of moon rocks, classified by
Geologists as igneous (formed by melting) possibly from a lunar volcanic flow
or from a large meteorite crashing into the moon. Some of the rocks picked
up by the astronauts had rested undisturbed on the lunar surface for a million
years or more. Public interest in the rocks was tremendous. In September of
1969 the first public exhibition was opened in the Smithsonian Institution
in Washington. Thousands lined up to get a glimpse of a moon rock, but many
found it disappointingly ordinary.
Ticker tape parade for the Hero Astronauts who
went on to make a world tour of 25 countries in 35 days. The Apollo program
had fulfilled President John F. Kennedy's wish to land a man on the moon before
the end of the 1960s - and did it just five months and ten days before the
end of the decade.
Apollo 11 Audio Highlights