A bootprint on the Moon

Apollo 11

Project Apollo, the United States' manned Moon landing programme, culminated in 1969 with Apollo 11. Mission commander Neil Armstrong's famous words, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind", spoken as he stepped onto the lunar surface, were heard by an estimated 600 million television viewers.

Armstrong, his fellow moonwalker Buzz Aldrin, and command module pilot Michael Collins later safely splashed down inside their capsule, fulfilling President John F Kennedy's pledge to land men on the Moon and return them to Earth before the end of the decade.

A further five missions would take other three-man crews to the Moon until Apollo was cancelled in 1972.

Photo: Apollo 11 boot print (NASA)

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A bootprint on the Moon

About Apollo 11

The United States lands astronauts on the Moon.

About Apollo 11

Apollo 11 was the first spaceflight that landed humans on the Moon. Americans Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on July 20, 1969, at 20:18 UTC. Armstrong became the first to step onto the lunar surface six hours later on July 21 at 02:56:15 UTC; Aldrin joined him about 20 minutes later. They spent about two and a quarter hours together outside the spacecraft, and collected 47.5 pounds (21.5 kg) of lunar material for return to Earth. The third crew member, Michael Collins, piloted the Command Module Columbia alone in lunar orbit while they were on the Moon's surface. Armstrong and Aldrin spent just under a day on the lunar surface before rendezvousing with Columbia in lunar orbit.

Launched by a Saturn V rocket from Kennedy Space Center in Merritt Island, Florida, on July 16, Apollo 11 was the fifth manned mission of NASA's Apollo program. The Apollo spacecraft had three parts: a Command Module (CM) with a cabin for the three astronauts, and the only part that landed back on Earth; a Service Module (SM), which supported the Command Module with propulsion, electrical power, oxygen, and water; and a Lunar Module (LM) that had two stages – a lower stage for landing on the Moon, and an upper stage to place the astronauts back into lunar orbit. After being sent toward the Moon by the Saturn V's upper stage, the astronauts separated the spacecraft from it and traveled for three days until they entered into lunar orbit. Armstrong and Aldrin then moved into the Lunar Module Eagle and landed in the Sea of Tranquility. They stayed a total of about 21.5 hours on the lunar surface. The astronauts used Eagle's upper stage to lift off from the lunar surface and rejoin Collins in the Command Module. They jettisoned Eagle before they performed the maneuvers that blasted them out of lunar orbit on a trajectory back to Earth. They returned to Earth and landed in the Pacific Ocean on July 24.

Broadcast on live TV to a world-wide audience, Armstrong stepped onto the lunar surface and described the event as "one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind." Apollo 11 effectively ended the Space Race and fulfilled a national goal proposed in 1961 by the U.S. President John F. Kennedy in a speech before the U.S. Congress: "before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth."

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