Moon Surface

Apollo 11 Mission Highlights

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Saturn V Liftoff
Apollo 11 Liftoff

The first manned Moon landing mission - July 16, 1969 at 9:32 a.m. EDT; Kennedy Space Center, Launch Complex 39, Pad A.

Step to Moon
Step to the Moon

Neil Armstrong became the first human to put a foot on the Moon; July 20, 1969 at 10:56 pm EDT. This shows Aldrin joining Armstrong about 15 minutes later.

Lunar Module
Lunar Module "Eagle"

Aldrin opens the stowage area to unload the scientific experiments package.

Earthrise Over Lunar Horizon

This is one of the most impressive classic photos of the Apollo program. The lunar terrain shown is on the nearside of the Moon in the area of Smyth's Sea.

Experiment Deployment
Scientific Experiments

Armstrong and Aldrin set up the Early Apollo Scientific Experiments Package (EASEP) during their brief few hours visit to the Moon.

Edwin Aldrin
Edwin Aldrin

This photo was taken by Neil Armstrong and shows a reflection of Armstrong and the Lunar Module in Aldrin's visor.

A Salute On The Moon

The American Flag is mounted on an 8 ft. aluminum staff and is of 3 ft. x 5 ft. nylon construction. The top edge tubing keeps it unfurled in the airless environment.

LM Liftoff
The LM Liftoff

The LM "Eagle" lifts off from the Moon to rendezvous and dock with the Command Module. The LM was left behind in lunar orbit as Columbia returned to Earth.

Footprint on the Moon

The astronaut footprints in the Sea of Tranquility may be there for millions of years unless disturbed by meteorites.

Columbia Splashdown

Columbia splashed down about 812 miles southwest of Hawaii on July 24, 1969 at 12:50 p.m. EDT. The three astronauts are shown in a life raft awaiting for helicopter transport to the U.S.S. Hornet.

Apollo 11 Crew

Commander Neil A. Armstrong, Command Module Pilot Michael Collins, Lunar Module Pilot Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr. on May 1, 1969.

Apollo 11 Mission Patch

The Apollo 11 spacecraft (first manned Moon landing mission) was launched from Cape Kennedy at 13:31:01 GMT on July 16, 1969. After 2 hr and 33 min in Earth orbit, the S-IVB engine was reignited for acceleration of the spacecraft to the velocity required for Earth gravity escape.

Lunar-orbit began at 75:50 ground elapsed time (GET). The spacecraft was placed in an elliptical orbit (61 by 169 nautical miles), inclined 1.25 degrees to the lunar equatorial plane. At 80:12 GET, the service module propulsion system was reignited, and the orbit was made nearly circular (66 by 54 nautical miles) above the surface of the Moon. Each orbit took two hours. Photographs taken from lunar orbit provided broad views for the study of regional lunar geology.

The lunar module (LM), with Astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin aboard, was undocked from the command-service module (CSM) at 100:14 GET, following a thorough check of all the LM systems. At 101:36 GET, the LM descent engine was fired for approximately 29 seconds, and the descent to the lunar surface began. At 102:33 GET, the LM descent engine was started for the last time and burned until touchdown on the lunar surface. Eagle landed on the Moon 102 hr, 45 min and 40 sec after launch.

Immediately after landing on the Moon, Armstrong and Aldrin prepared the LM for liftoff as a contingency measure. Following the meal, a scheduled sleep period was postponed at the astronauts' request, and the astronauts began preparations for descent to the lunar surface.

Astronaut Armstrong emerged from the spacecraft first. While descending, he released the Modularized Equipment Stowage Assembly (MESA) on which the surface television camera was stowed, and the camera recorded humankind's first step on the Moon at 109:24:19 GET. A sample of lunar surface material was collected and stowed to assure that, if a contingency required an early end to the planned surface activities, samples of lunar surface material would be returned to Earth. Astronaut Aldrin subsequently descended to the lunar surface.

The astronauts carried out the planned sequence of activities that included deployment of a Solar Wind Composition (SWC) experiment, collection of a larger sample of lunar material, panoramic photographs of the region near the landing site and the lunar horizon, closeup photographs of in place lunar surface material, deployment of a Laser-Ranging Retroreflector (LRRR) and a Passive Seismic Experiment Package (PSEP), and collection of two core-tube samples of the lunar surface.

Approximately two and a quarter hours after descending to the surface, the astronauts began preparations to reenter the LM, after which the astronauts slept. The ascent from the lunar surface began at 124:22 GET, 21 hours and 36 minutes after the lunar landing. In transearth coast only one of four planned midcourse corrections was required. The CM entered the atmosphere of the Earth with a velocity of 36,194 feet per second (11,032 meters per second) and landed in the Pacific Ocean.

From NASA SP-214, Preliminary Science Report.

Mission Facts
  • Lunar Module - Eagle

  • Command and Service Module - Columbia

  • Launched from Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39A

  • Affixed to the leg of the lunar landing vehicle, is a plaque signed by President Nixon, Neil A. Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr.

  • The plaque bears a map of the Earth and this inscription:



    JULY 1969 A.D.


  • Carried to Moon and returned two large American flags, flags of the 50 states, District of Columbia and U.S. Territories, flags of other nations and that of the United Nations.

  • The mission was the second space flight for Armstrong (Gemini VIII), Collins (Gemini X) and Aldrin (Gemini XII).

  • The prime mission objective of Apollo 11 is stated simply: "Perform a manned lunar landing and return".

  • First return of samples from another planetary body. These first samples were basalts, dark-colored igneous rocks, and they were about 3.7 billion years old.

  • The backup crew were James A. Lovell, commander; William A. Anders, command module pilot; and Fred W. Haise, lunar module pilot.

  • Mission Duration: 195 hr 18 min 35 sec.

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