Apollo 11 Moon Landing Fifty Years Ago

Astronaut Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin and the American flag, Moon, July 20, 1969

This summer will mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Perhaps the most remarkable achievement in human history, Apollo 11 was the result of years of work and preparation by the United States’ space program, led by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The mission culminated in Astronaut Neil Armstrong taking the first step by a human being onto the surface of the Moon on July 20, 1969. With fellow astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, Armstrong spent less than a day on the Moon’s surface, about a quarter million miles from Earth, in an area called the Sea of Tranquility. They then launched their Lunar Module, the Eagle, from the Moon back into lunar orbit. There they rejoined crew member Michael Collins, who piloted the Command Module, Columbia. The three NASA astronauts completed their return flight to Earth on July 24, splashing down in the Pacific Ocean.

The entire Apollo 11 mission had lasted eight days, three hours, 18 minutes, and 35 seconds. It fulfilled a national goal set forth by President John F. Kennedy in a speech on May 25, 1961: to send a manned crew to the Moon, land on the lunar surface, and return safely to Earth. After more than half a year of specific preparation, and supported by some 400,000 personnel, Apollo 11 began with launch at Cape Kennedy (formerly Cape Canaveral) in Florida on July 16. The capsule containing the three astronauts was carried into Earth orbit by a Saturn V, the tallest and most powerful rocket ever launched.

Apollo 11 was preceded by other Apollo missions, the first of which never made it off the ground. In 1967 the three astronauts of Apollo 1—Virgil Grissom, Edward White, and Roger Chaffee—died in a tragic blaze within the command module prior to takeoff. Apollo 11 was also followed by several more missions to the Moon, the last of which was Apollo 17 in 1972. Since that time, no country’s space program has sent astronauts to the Moon. In celebration of the historic accomplishment, a documentary titled Apollo 11, which was “fifty years in the making,” has been released in theaters nationwide. Don’t miss it!

Image credit: NASA Johnson Space Center

Related Links:

  • Apollo 11 Mission Overview
    Official documentation of Apollo 11; includes mission audio and video highlights and links to articles on each Apollo mission and other NASA topics.
    (Source: NASA; accessed May 10, 2019)
  • 1969 Moon Landing
    This article provides historical context for the space program and includes a timeline of the spaceflight.
    (Source: History.com; accessed May 10, 2019)
  • Apollo 11
    Trailer for the documentary movie Apollo 11 (2019), which Roger Ebert calls “magnificent and unique, an adrenaline shot of wonder and skill.”
    (Source: IMDB.com; accessed May 10, 2019)
  • Apollo 11: United States Spaceflight
    A concise yet comprehensive article covering the basics of the Apollo program’s signature spaceflight; includes numerous photos and multiple links to related articles.
    (Source: Encyclopaedia Britannica; accessed May 10, 2019)
  • Apollo 11: First Men on the Moon
    Another encyclopedic article covering the historic mission.
    (Source: Space.com; accessed May 10, 2019)
  • Why Aren’t There Stars in the Moon Landing Photos?
    This website includes a video that answers puzzling facts that have led some to question the authenticity of the moon landing.
    (Source: Curiosity.com; accessed May 10, 2019)

Comments are closed.