Armstrong faced an even bigger challenge in 1969. Along with Michael Collins and Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin, he was part of NASA’s first manned mission to the moon. The trio were launched into space on July 16, 1969. Serving as the mission’s commander, Armstrong piloted the Lunar Module to the moon’s surface on July 20, 1969, with Buzz Aldrin aboard. Collins remained on the Command Module.
At 10:56 PM, Armstrong exited the Lunar Module. He said, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” as he made his famous first step on the moon. For about two and a half hours, Armstrong and Aldrin collected samples and conducted experiments. They also took photographs, including their own footprints.
Returning on July 24, 1969, the Apollo 11 craft came down in the Pacific Ocean west of Hawaii. The crew and the craft were picked up by the U.S.S. Hornet, and the three astronauts were put into quarantine for three weeks.
Before long, the three Apollo 11 astronauts were given a warm welcome home. Crowds lined the streets of New York City to cheer on the famous heroes who were honored in a ticker-tape parade. Armstrong received numerous awards for his efforts, including the Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.
Helping out at a difficult time, Armstrong served as vice chairman of the Presidential Commission on the space shuttle Challenger accident in 1986. The commission investigated the explosion of the Challenger on January 28, 1986, which took the lives of its crew, including school teacher Christa McAuliffe.
Despite being one of the most famous astronauts in history, Armstrong has largely shied away from the public eye. He gave a rare interview to the news program 60 Minutes in 2006. He described the moon to interviewer Ed Bradley, saying “It’s a brilliant surface in that sunlight. The horizon seems quite close to you because the curvature is so much more pronounced than here on earth. It’s an interesting place to be. I recommend it.” That same year, his authorized biography came out. “First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong” was written by James R. Hansen, who conducted interviews with Armstrong, his family, and his friends and associates.
In his personal life, Armstrong started to settle down. He married Janet Shearon on January 28, 1956. The couple soon added to their family. Son Eric arrived in 1957, followed by daughter Karen in 1959. Sadly, Karen died of complications related to an inoperable brain tumor in January 1962
Driving on the moon.
In later moon landings, the astronauts used the Lunar Rover vehicle to help explore more of the moon’s surface.
The Command Service Module “Columbia” consisted of two parts. The Command Module is the cone at the top, or front in this picture. The Command Module held the three man crew. It was the control center during the mission. It also was the re-entry vehicle for returning back to Earth.
The Service Module at the bottom, or back in this picture, provided the propulsion and maneuvering capability for the space craft.
In President Kennedy’s speech to Congress, on May 25, 1961, he expressed a concern that the United States was falling behind the Soviet Union in technology and prestige. He challenged the nation to put a man on the moon before the end of the decade.
On July 16, 1969, the Apollo 11 launched from the Kennedy Space Center.
The Apollo 11 crew from left to right: Neil Armstrong, Commander; Michael Collins, command module pilot; and , Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot.
Shown above is the Apollo 11 crest.
Armstrong walks on moon
At 10:56 p.m. EDT, American astronaut Neil Armstrong, 240,000 miles from Earth, speaks these words to more than a billion people listening at home: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Stepping off the lunar landing module Eagle, Armstrong became the first human to walk on the surface of the moon.
On July 20, 1969, American astronauts Neil Armstrong (1930-2012) and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin (1930-) became the first humans ever to land on the moon. About six-and-a-half hours later, Armstrong became the first person to walk on the moon. As he set took his first step, Armstrong famously said, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” The Apollo 11 mission occurred eight years after President John Kennedy (1917-63) announced a national goal of landing a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s. Apollo 17, the final manned moon mission, took place in 1972.
Apollo program: Background
The American effort to send astronauts to the moon had its origins in an appeal President John Kennedy made to a special joint session of Congress on May 25, 1961: “I believe this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth.” At the time, the United States was still trailing the Soviet Union in space developments, and Cold War-era America welcomed Kennedy’s bold proposal.In 1966, after five years of work by an international team of scientists and engineers, the National
Returning to Earth
After re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere, parachutes opened to safely lower the Columbia into the Pacific Ocean. After landing in the Ocean, the crew were retrieved by a helicopter and taken to the recovery ship, the “USS Hornet.”
The crew and lunar samples were placed in quarantine until their health and safety could be confirmed.
The Command Module “Columbia” returned to Earth on July 24, 1969. Apollo 11 had successfully completed its mission. President Kennedy’s objective to land men on the moon and return them safely to Earth had been accomplished.