21st July 1969 will be forever remembered as the day that mankind set foot on the surface of the moon for the very first time.
This momentous space mission began at 9:32 a.m. on July 16 1969, when the Saturn V rocket launched Apollo 11 into the sky from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, USA. Watched from the ground by over 3,000 journalists and approximately half a million tourists, the crew of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins launched their mission.
After orbiting the Earth one-and-a-half times, the Saturn V thrusters flared, and the crew tackled the delicate process of attaching the lunar module (known as Eagle) onto the nose of the joined command and service module (known as Columbia). Once this difficult procedure was complete Apollo 11 left the Saturn V rockets behind and began the three day journey to the moon.
Apollo 11 entered the moon’s orbit on July 19 at 1:28 p.m. A day later, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin entered the Eagle lunar module and detached it from the command module for their descent to the moon’s surface, leaving Michael Collins in the Columbia to check for problems with the lunar module while his colleagues prepared to make space history.
Unfortunately, the next part of the mission did not run as smoothly as the initial launch. As the Eagle headed toward the moon’s surface, several warning alarms were activated. Suddenly, Armstrong and Aldrin realized that the computer system was guiding them to the wrong landing area, and they were heading for a site covered in giant boulders, where safely reaching the surface would have been impossible.
Acting fast, with some frantic last minute recalculations and careful maneuvering, Armstrong guided the lunar module to a safe landing at 4:17 p.m, in the area known as the Sea of Tranquility, with only seconds of fuel remaining. It was then that Neil Armstrong spoke some of the most famous words in modern history, “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”
At 10:28 p.m on 20th July, Neil Armstrong turned on video cameras that transmitted images from the moon to over half a billion people watching their televisions. The world then witnessed Armstrong set foot on the surface of the moon at 10:56 pm.
As he placed a foot on the moon, Armstrong said, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” A few minutes later, Buzz Aldrin also exited the lunar module, joining his colleague on the moon’s surface, where together they planted the flag of United States of America.