- Apollo 11 was the spaceflight that first landed humans on the Moon. Commander Neil Armstrong and lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin formed the American crew that landed the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle on July 20, 1969, at 20:17 UTC.
- Armstrong became the first person to step onto the lunar surface six hours 39 minutes later on July 21 at 02:56 UTC; Aldrin joined him 19 minutes later. They spent about two and a quarter hours together outside the spacecraft, and they collected 47.5 pounds (21.5 kg) of lunar material to bring back to Earth
- In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the United States was engaged in the Cold War, a geopolitical rivalry with the Soviet Union. On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite.
- On April 12, 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first person in space, and the first to orbit the Earth.It was another body blow to American pride.
- The effort to land a man on the Moon already had a name: Project Apollo.
- Apollo spacecraft would have three major parts: a command module (CM) with a cabin for the three astronauts, and the only part that returned to Earth;
- A service module (SM), which supported the command module with propulsion, electrical power, oxygen, and water;
- a lunar module (LM) that had two stages – a descent stage for landing on the Moon, and an ascent stage to place the astronauts back into lunar orbit.
- This design meant the spacecraft could be launched by a single Saturn V rocket that was then under development.
- Project Apollo was abruptly halted by the Apollo 1 fire on January 27, 1967, in which astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger B. Chaffee died, and the subsequent investigation.
- In October 1968, Apollo 7 evaluated the command module in Earth orbit, and in December Apollo 8 tested it in lunar orbit.
- In March 1969, Apollo 9 put the lunar module through its paces in Earth orbit,and in May Apollo 10 conducted a “dress rehearsal” in lunar orbit. By July 1969, all was in readiness for Apollo 11 to take the final step onto the Moon
Commander Neil A. Armstrong
Command Module Pilot Michael Collins
Lunar Module Pilot Edwin “Buzz” E. Aldrin Jr.
- Apollo 11 launched from Cape Kennedy on July 16, 1969, carrying Commander Neil Armstrong, Command Module Pilot Michael Collins and Lunar Module Pilot Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin into an initial Earth-orbit of 114 by 116 miles.
- An estimated 650 million people watched Armstrong’s televised image and heard his voice describe the event as he took “…one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind” on July 20, 1969.
- On July 24, the Apollo 11 crew reentered Earth’s atmosphere and splashed down into the Pacific Ocean after more than a week in space.
- In order to ensure the men hadn’t brought back any sort of weird Moon diseases or other microbes, Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins were quickly placed into a mobile quarantine unit, which was then transported to the NASA Lunar Receiving Laboratory at Houston’s Johnson Space Center.
- They were released from quarantine on August 10, 1969.