On July 20, 1969, millions of people throughout the world watched in awe as the United States space program made history. U.S. Astronauts, Neil Armstrong and (Edwin) Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to walk on the surface of the moon. After taking the first step, Armstrong proclaimed the famous words, “That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind."
These first steps were only possible after many other “impossible” achievements. The first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, was launched in 1957 by Russia. Soon after, the United States launched several of their own. Both countries hoped to be the first nation to send a human being into space. On April 12, 1961, Russia accomplished this feat by successfully sending Yuri Gagarin into space. A month later, Alan Shepard became the first American in space. With Russia competing to be the first to walk the lunar surface, President John F. Kennedy challenged NASA to put a human on the moon in 10 years or less. The Space Race was well under way.
Mission planners at NASA studied the lunar surface for two years, searching for the best place to make the historic landing. Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins were selected to navigate the Apollo 11 spacecraft. On July 16, 1969, the three astronauts launched into space from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It took four days to reach the lunar surface.
On July 20, Armstrong and Aldrin entered the lunar module, nicknamed the “Eagle” and headed toward the lunar surface. Collins, observed from the Command Service Module- the “Columbia”. The lunar module made touchdown in the moon’s large basaltic region, named the Sea of Tranquility, at 4:17 p.m. Eastern time.
While on the surface, the astronauts set up several experiments, took core samples from the crust, collected samples of lunar soil to bring home and erected a United States flag.
After 21.5 hours on the moon, the crew headed home and splashed in the Pacific Ocean on July 24, 1969. They were celebrated and welcomed back by millions of proud Americans.
The act of putting three people on the moon—and then safely bringing them back home—proved that successful human exploration in space is possible. Today NASA is working on sending humans to Mars. Thanks to the Apollo 11 moon landing, NASA is hopeful about its chances.
Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the lunar landing on July, 20th with crafts and four different events all under one roof! West Irving Library, 4444 W Rochelle Rd, hosts this fun filled commemoration. Click on the link for a complete list of all free programs. https://www.cityofirving.org/3451/Moon-Landing-Day