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50th Anniversary of Apollo 11

Fifty years ago, three American men did something no human had ever done before--they walked on the moon.

Jul 19, 2019

Fifty years ago, three American men did something no human had ever done before--they walked on the moon.  For ages, mankind dreamed about reaching the moon’s surface.  Finally, on July 20th,1969, the world got its wish. 

“One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Neil Armstrong spoke these words, the first words uttered from a human on the moon.  About six hundred million people, one sixth of the world’s population, viewed the landing via broadcasts from enormous radio receivers in Australia.  They watched in awe as astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin took notes, photographs and samples of rocks and dust from the surface in their bulky space suits.  The third astronaut, Michael Collins, stayed in orbit around the moon during this time. 

Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin made history as the Apollo 11 crew.Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin made history as the Apollo 11 crew.

Before they left, Aldrin and Armstrong planted an American flag in the lunar dust, and left a plaque bearing a statement reading:  Here Men From The Planet Earth First Set Foot Upon the Moon, July 1969 A.D. We Came in Peace For All Mankind.  The plaque also held a disc containing messages from 73 leaders of countries around the world, the word hello spoken in almost every language known to man and a picture of two humans.

Armstrong and Aldrin left an American flag on the moon, among other things.Armstrong and Aldrin left an American flag on the moon, among other things.

Apollo 11 returned to earth on July 24th, 1969 to a nation filled with pride and confidence that human space exploration is, in fact, possible.  The mission cleared the path for more visits to the moon, and 10 more astronauts would visit the moon in the following years until 1972.  No person has visited the moon since.

Edwin Aldrin's boot print on the moon's surface.Edwin Aldrin's boot print on the moon's surface.

Check Out These Other Awesome Facts:

  • The mission was part of the “space race” between Russia and the United States to be the first country to put humans on the moon. 
  • In 1961, US President John F. Kennedy posed the challenge to "land a man on the moon, and return him safely to the Earth," before the 1960s ended.
  • Apollo 11 launched into space from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on July 16th, 1969. 
  • Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins traveled 240,000 miles in just a little over three days (76 hours) to reach the moon’s lunar orbit.
  • Richard Nixon was the US President at the time, and he watched the event from the White House.
  • The astronauts split from the main shuttle before landing.  They landed in the Apollo Lunar Module called Eagle.  The Columbia was the part of the shuttle that stayed in orbit.
  • During the landing, Armstrong and Aldrin faced problems with the spacecraft and had to land manually with only 25 seconds of fuel left.
  • The Eagle landed in a shallow moon crater named the Sea of Tranquility.

Apollo 11 lunar module, Eagle, getting ready to land.Apollo 11 lunar module, Eagle, getting ready to land.
  • The first thing Aldrin did when he landed was pray.
  • Aldrin and Armstrong slept for 7 hours on the moon in the Eagle before beginning their journey home.
  • Upon returning to earth, the three men were placed into quarantine (kept away from all other people) for three weeks in case they caught any diseases  while on the moon.
  • When they got out of quarantine, the three heroes had dinner with President Nixon, joined in national parades and celebrations, and appeared on TV shows.
  • On the last three Apollo missions, astronauts drove a lunar rover on the moon.
  • On January 24, 2019, Apollo 11 Fiftieth Anniversary commemorative coins were released to the public.
  • A documentary film, Apollo 11, with restored footage of the 1969 event, premiered on March 1, 2019.
  • Russia, not the US, was the first country to send a human into space.  On April 12, 1961, Russia’s Yuri Gagarin became the first. Less than a month later the United States’ Alan Shepard became the first American in space.
  • The first manned mission to the moon was Apollo 8. It circled around the moon on Christmas Eve in 1968. However, Apollo 8 did not land on the moon. It orbited the moon, then came back to Earth.

The astronauts were launched from Cape Kennedy atop a Saturn V rocket.The astronauts were launched from Cape Kennedy atop a Saturn V rocket.
Share Your Thoughts

Would you ever want to be an astronaut?  Would you ever travel to space? Comment below!