July 20, 1969 ~ One Giant Leap for Mankind
July 20th is National Moon Day and today we take a look at the spaceflight that first landed humans on the moon: Apollo 11.
Following World War II, Space, the final frontier, became a critical theater in the Cold War between the United States and Soviet Union, as each side competed to best the other’s achievements in what became known as the Space Race.
On September 12, 1962 President John F. Kennedy gave his now famous “Go to the Moon” Speech at Rice Stadium in Houston, Texas.
For nearly a decade the United States pushed the limits of technology to achieve this seemingly unachievable goal.
The Apollo 11 mission that launched on July 16, 1969 with Commander Neil Armstrong, lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin, and command module pilot Michael Collins would be the culmination of the national goal and the final act of the Space Race.
Apollo 11 was launched with the massive Saturn V rocket from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The launch of Apollo 11 was televised live in 33 countries, with an estimated 25 million viewers in the United States alone.
It would take 3-days to reach a lunar orbit.
Armstrong and Aldrin then moved into the lunar capsule named Eagle descended to the lunar surface landing in the Sea of Tranquility.
“Houston, the Eagle has landed.”
Later with millions of people worldwide listening on their radios and glued to their TVs, Neil Armstrong stepped off Eagle’s foot pad becoming the first man to set foot on the moon.
“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Aldrin joined Armstrong on the surface. He described the view with the simple phrase: “Magnificent desolation.”
The astronauts planted a flag of the United States on the lunar surface. They also left a plaque. It says “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon July 1969, A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.”
After more than 21 1⁄2 hours on the lunar surface, they lifted off to rejoin Collins aboard Columbia in lunar orbit and begin the journey home.
The crew of Apollo 11 returned to Earth and splashed down in the Pacific Ocean on July 24 after more than eight days in space.
Apollo 11 effectively ended the Space Race and fulfilled a national goal proposed by President John F. Kennedy.
Six more Apollo missions followed by the end of 1972.