Apollo 11 – The First Men on the Moon

In 1969, Apollo 11 launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center carrying astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Michael Collins. The primary mission objective was to fulfill a national goal set by President John F. Kennedy on May 25, 1961, to perform a crewed lunar landing and return safely to Earth before the decade was out. On July 20, Armstrong and Aldrin became the first men to walk on the Moon. The two astronauts spent more than 21 hours on the lunar surface deploying scientific experiments and gathering samples before returning to the orbiting command module, piloted by Collins.

Apollo 11 Launches – July 16, 1969

Saturn V – Apollo 11

Apollo 11 liftoff, from an automatic camera on the launch tower

Apollo 11 liftoff – July 16, 1969 9:32 AM EDT

Buzz Aldrin’s photo of Neil Armstrong, while still in Earth orbit, a little over an hour after liftoff – NASA photo AS11-36-5291.

Buzz Aldrin

Michael Collins

View of Earth from Apollo 11

Apollo 11 Lunar Module prior to extraction

View of the Lunar Module during Transposition and Docking, prior to extraction from the S-IVB (third) stage, about three and a half hours into the mission…after Trans-lunar injection and leaving Earth oribt. NASA photo ID AS11-36-5313

View of far side of Moon following Apollo 11 lunar orbit insertion
Day 4 of the Apollo 11 mission… July 19, 1969… The crew is on the far side of the Moon, out of contact with the Earth, and has just performed the lunar orbit insertion burn of the Service Module engine, placing them in lunar orbit. Aldrin photographs far side features from lunar orbit. In this photo, the structure of the attached Lunar Module is also visible. NASA photo ID AS11-36-5404

Earthrise from Apollo 11, about 86 hours into the mission, prior to separation of the Lunar Module from the Command & Service Modules, and about 17 hours prior to powered descent to the Moon’s surface. NASA photo ID AS11-37-5442

Apollo 11 CSM from LM after undocking

Apollo 11 photo of the Command and Service Modules from the Lunar Module “Eagle,” following undocking and prior to beginning of the powered descent to the lunar surface. NASA photo ID AS11-37-5444

Apollo 11 first photo on Moon after landing

Neil Armstrong’s first photo after the Apollo 11 landing, taken from the Lunar Module window. NASA photo ID AS11-37-5449

Apollo 11 first photo by Neil Armstrong after setting foot on Moon

Neil Armstrong’s first Hasselblad photograph on the Moon at the beginning of the Apollo 11 EVA, which was the beginning of a panoramic sequence. In this photo is one of the jettison bags, which were used to the keep the cabin free of trash. NASA photo ID AS11-40-5850

Apollo 11 photo of Buzz Aldrin by Neil Armstrong

Buzz Aldrin photographed by Neil Armstrong, early during the Apollo 11 EVA. NASA photo ID AS11-40-5873

Apollo 11 astronauts during the EVA, just after the phone call from President Nixon

Still frame from the Maurer automatic 16mm data acquisition camera (DAC), shot through the LM window

Apollo 11 Returning to Earth

July 24, 1969 – Return to Earth

Neil Armstrong – Michael Collins – Buzz Aldrin

The Apollo 11 crew successfully returned to Earth following their eight-day mission to the lunar surface. Astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Michael Collins splashed down in the Pacific Ocean, 13 miles from the recovery ship USS Hornet. Donning biological isolation garments before leaving the spacecraft, the crew went directly into the Mobile Quarantine Facility on the aircraft carrier, their home for the following 21 days. With the success of Apollo 11, the national objective of landing men on the Moon and returning them safely to Earth was accomplished. The historic effort that sent the first U.S. astronauts into orbit around the Moon in 1968, and landed a dozen astronauts on the lunar surface between 1969 and 1972. For more pictures, and to connect to NASA’s remarkable history, visit the Marshall History Program’s

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