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Moon Landing 50th Anniversary: 13 Spectacular Facts About NASA’s First Moon Mission and Apollo 11

First Moon Landing Mission (Photo Credits: Wikimedia Commons)

It is the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, NASA’s first manned mission took off to land on the moon. It was on July 16, when American astronauts, Neil A. Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin Aldrin, Jr. sat to the Apollo 11 spacecraft, which launched from Cape Kennedy. And four days later, Armstrong and Aldrin became the first landed humans on the moon. There are remarkable and spectacular facts about the launch of the first moon landing that captivates the cosmic lovers. Till today, we cherish one of the greatest breathtakingly engineering and logistic achievements of humankind. Lunar Eclipse Marks Moon Landing’s 50th Anniversary; Partial Eclipse to Grace Skies. 

The American effort to send astronauts to the moon had its origins in an appeal of the 35th U.S. President John F. Kennedy to a special joint session of Congress on May 25, 1961. It was the time, when the country was still trailing the Soviet Union in space developments and the Cold War. However, they welcomed the President’s bold and challenging proposal. And as promised, before it was the end of the 1960s when humankind witnessed this remarkable feat. Let us look at some of the less-known yet fascinating Apollo 11 facts on its 50th anniversary. Chandrayaan 2 Launch Date And Time: Know When, Where And How to Watch Launch of India’s Second Moon Mission From Sriharikota. 

Facts About NASA’s First Moon Mission and Apollo 11

1. Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong, lunar module Edwin Aldrin, and command module pilot Mike Collins were assigned for the first moon landing mission six months before the launch, January 1969.

2. Before the launch, many test systems conducted a moon journey and landing. In December, 1968, Apollo 8 took three astronauts to the dark side of the moon and back. Again in March 1969, Apollo 9 tested the lunar module for the first time while in Earth orbit. That year in May, the three astronauts took the first complete Apollo spacecraft around the moon in a dry run before the July mission.

3. On July 16, 1969, at 9:31am Eastern Time, Apollo 11 took off from Kennedy Space Centre with astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin and Michael Collins on board.

4. Armstrong, a civilian research pilot, was the commander of the moon landing mission.

5. After travelling about 240,000 miles in 76 hours, Apollo 11 on July 19, entered into a lunar orbit.

6. The next day, the lunar module Eagle, manned by Armstrong and Aldrin, separated from the command module, where Collins remained.

7. Collins accepted his role as the man who would stay behind the lunar orbit, while his crewmates descended to the surface.

8. At 4:17pm on July 20, the craft touched down on the south-western edge of the Sea of Tranquillity.

9. Armstrong was the first man to step on the moon’s powdery surface and he spoke his famous quote, “that’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

10. And 19 minutes later that night, Aldrin joined him on the moon’s surface and together they took photographs of the terrain, planted a U.S. flag and ran a few simple scientific tests.

11. The two astronauts slept that night on the surface of the moon.

12. Among a few items left on the surface of the moon was a plaque that read, “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot on the moon—July 1969 A.D.—We came in peace for all mankind.”

13. On July 22, Apollo 11 began its journey back home.

The last men to walk on the moon were astronauts Eugene Cernan (1934) and Harrison Schmitt (1935) of the Apollo 17 mission, left the lunar surface on December 14, 1972. NASA now expects to make a new moon landing by 2024 through its Artemis program.