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Apollo 11

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first and second men, respectively, to set foot on the Moon.


launched July 16, 1969
landed on the Moon July 20, 1969
returned to Earth July 24, 1969


Mission Commander -- Neil A. Armstrong
Command Module Pilot -- Lieutenant Colonel
Michael Collins
Lunar Module Pilot -- Colonel
Edwin E. "Buzz" Aldrin, Jr.

Armstrong, Collins, Aldrin
Armstrong, Collins, Aldrin


command module Columbia
lunar module Eagle

Chronology of Events

July 16

9:32 am EDT -- Apollo 11 blasts off from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The giant Saturn V rocket bearing the Apollo 11 capsule and crew blazes past a motion picture camera mounted on the launch tower. The launch was watched by hundreds of thousands of spectators from nearby beaches and by millions of people around the world via live television coverage.
the launch of Apollo XI

July 19

Columbia and the attached Eagle enter lunar orbit.

July 20

4:18 pm EDT -- The Eagle lands at 0 41' 15" N latitude and 23 26' E longitude, in the Sea of Tranquility.

10:56 pm EDT -- Neil Armstrong becomes the first man to set foot on the Moon, followed by "Buzz" Aldrin a few minutes later.

Guided and filmed by Armstrong, Aldrin exits the Eagle, makes his way down the ladder, and "hops down" to the Moon's surface.
Buzz Aldrin sets foot on the Moon

Armstrong and Aldrin plant an American flag on the Moon, as filmed by a camera on the Eagle.
Armstrong and Aldrin plant an American flag on the Moon

A bootprint, only a fraction of an inch deep, symbolizes man's first footsteps on the Moon.
footprint on the Moon

July 21

The Eagle lifts off from the Moon and rendezvous with Columbia.

Collins' camera catches a view of the Lunar Module, the Moon, and the Earth above the lunar horizon as the Eagle rises from the Moon and maneuvers into docking position. The four-legged descent stage of the Eagle acted as the launching platform for the Lunar Module and was left behind on the Moon's surface.
The Eagle approaching the Columbia

July 22

The astronauts begin their journey back to Earth.

July 24

12:50 pm EDT, Columbia splashes down about 825 nautical miles southwest of Hawaii, only 2.7 miles from their target.

Recovery frogmen "ride" the Apollo 11 Command Module as it is towed to the USS Hornet. The astronauts have already exited the craft and been loaded into a helicopter, after having donned isolation suits and scrubbing themselves with a decontaminant.
recovery of Apollo 11


The astronauts were kept in quarantine for 18 days and the lunar material they gathered for more than a month to guard against the possible contamination of the Earth by organisms brought back from the Moon.

Armstrong, Collins, and Aldrin greet onlookers from inside the isolation trailer Hornet +3.
Armstrong, Collins, and Aldrin in the quarantine trailer

Mission Accomplishments

A lunar seismometer, which was left on the Moon, sent much data back to Earth, including readings showing "rumbles" lasting up to 15 minutes. Although most of the "rumbles" were believed to have been caused by equipment aboard the Eagle, some were suspected of being caused by moonquakes, rockslides, and/or meteroid impacts.

Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton in California and McDonald Observatory on Mount Locke in Texas successfully bounced a laser beam off a reflector left on the Moon. The laser experiment was designed to measure the distance between the Earth and the Moon to an accuracy of 6 inches.

Armstrong and Aldrin left a sheet of aluminum foil, 1 foot wide by 4 feet long, exposed to the solar wind while they conducted other experiments. The sheet was returned to Earth to be analyzed for sun particles.

Aldrin unfurls the aluminum sheet.
Aldrin unfurls a sheet of aluminum

About 48 pounds of lunar material were brought back to Earth.

Neil A. Armstrong
Michael Collins
Edwin E. "Buzz" Aldrin, Jr.
Saturn V

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The Robinson Library >> Astronautics >> Manned Programs and Missions

This page was last updated on 07/20/2018.