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View of Apollo 11 spacecraft on launch pad
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Apollo 11

Driven by a recent surge in space research, the Apollo program hoped to add to the accomplishments of the Lunar Orbiter and Surveyor missions of the late 1960's. Apollo 11 was the first mission to succeed in landing a person on the surface of the moon. On July 16, 1969, the U. S. rocket Saturn 5 was launched and three days later successfully deployed the lunar landing module Eagle which landed in the Moon's Sea of Tranquility. On July 20, millions of people back on Earth watched and listened as ast ronaut Neil Armstrong prepared to walk on the lunar surface.

"One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind". With these historic words, Armstrong became the first human to set foot on the Moon, at 10:56 pm, leaving his footprint etched in the lunar soil. Over the next 2 1/2 hours, he and astronaut Edwin Aldrin took color photographs, collected soil and rock samples, and raised the American flag, while walking around on the Moon. They also set up several experiments including a seismometer, a laser reflector and a sheet of aluminum to collect particles from the solar wind.

Apollo 11 returned to Earth on July 24, 1969, safely splashing down in the Pacific ocean. By sending a human to the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth, the Apollo 11 mission met President Kennedy's challenge made earlier that decade, and it wi ll remain one of the greatest technological achievements of all time.

Last modified July 19, 2001 by Jennifer Bergman.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF