Friday, July 17, 2009

Man walked on the Moon 40 years ago

July 20, 2009 will mark the 40th anniversary of man walking on the Moon.

Apollo 11 was the first manned mission to land on the Moon. A Saturn V rocket launched Apollo 11 from the Kennedy Space Center on July 16, 1969 carrying Mission Commander Neil Armstrong, Pilot Michael Collins, and Lunar Module Pilot Buzz Aldrin. On July 19 Apollo 11 passed behind the Moon. In the many orbits that followed, the crew saw their landing site, called the Sea of Tranquility.

On July 20, 1969 the lunar module Eagle separated from the command module Columbia and descended toward the moon. After they landed on the surface Armstrong said the famous words, "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”

Armstrong made his descent to the Moon's surface and spoke his famous line "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" exactly six and a half hours after landing. Aldrin joined him, describing the view as "Magnificent desolation."
After more than 2½ hours on the lunar surface, they left behind scientific instruments, an American flag, an Apollo 1 mission patch, a plaque bearing two drawings of Earth, an inscription, and signatures of the astronauts and Richard Nixon. The inscription read Here Men From The Planet Earth First Set Foot Upon the Moon, July 1969 A.D. We Came in Peace For All Mankind. They also left behind a memorial bag containing a gold replica of an olive branch as a traditional symbol of peace, the Apollo 1 patch, and a silicon message disk. The disk carries the goodwill statements by Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon and messages from leaders of 73 countries around the world.

Armstrong and Aldrin became the first humans to walk on the Moon, while Collins orbited above. The mission fulfilled President John F. Kennedy's goal of reaching the moon by the end of the 1960s, which he expressed during a speech given before a joint session of Congress on May 25, 1961:

"I believe that 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 the Earth."

In addition to throngs of people crowding highways and beaches near the launch site, millions watched the event on television.

NASA just released newly restored video from the July 20, 1969, live television broadcast of the Apollo 11 moonwalk. The release commemorates the 40th anniversary of the first mission to land astronauts on the moon. See the video here:

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