Buzz Aldrin Reflects on 53rd Anniversary of Apollo 11’s Launch

by Lauren Boisvert

Legendary astronaut Buzz Aldrin took to social media today to celebrate and reflect on the 53rd anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch. The mission began on this day, July 16, 1969, and ended on July 24 with a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean. Commander Neil Armstrong, Lunar Module Pilot Buzz Aldrin, and Command Module Pilot Michael Collins were the first people to land on the moon, fulfilling a challenge set by president John F. Kennedy in 1961.

Today marks the 53rd anniversary of the launch, and Buzz Aldrin took a moment to remember the event and his fellow astronauts. “53 years ago, we embarked on a journey of immeasurable magnitude and promise, when Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and I launched on #Apollo11,” he wrote on Twitter. “There was risk and uncertainty, but we had the best ground support, and as a team, we successfully launched and we’re headed to the moon.”

What the Moon Landing Jumpstarted at NASA

The moon landing was a monumental success for NASA. The space program would go on to launch a total of 14 Apollo missions until its retirement in 1972. The previous Apollo missions helped NASA test key technologies like the Saturn V rocket. They also learned to predict any difficulties in the future. After Apollo 11, each mission built upon its predecessor. Technology advanced, and NASA had new objectives. Specifically, Apollo 15, which launched July 26, was the first mission to use the Lunar Roving Vehicle.

Now, sometimes we look at the moon and we just see a rock floating in space. A lot of us don’t give the moon a second thought. But, there was a time when the moon was everything. She was the crown jewel of the night sky, and we would’ve given anything to be up there. Now, we’ve sent the Cassini satellite to check out Saturn. We’ve had multiple rovers on Mars. And, we just saw the deepest photo of space from the James Webb Telescope. We’ve come so far from our time wishing on the moon.

New Moon Project, Artemis, In the Works

NASA has a new moon project up its white lab coat sleeves; the Artemis missions are aiming to put people back on the moon. We haven’t been to the moon since the Apollo missions retired, in 1972, and it’s about time we visit again. The goal of the Artemis missions is to create the first long-term presence on the moon, according to NASA. They’ll build an Artemis Base Camp on the surface and a Gateway in orbit around the moon. The Gateway plans to stay in orbit about a decade. This will allow astronauts to live and work there, while also having access to the Base Camp and the moon’s surface.

Artemis I, the unmanned flight test, is set to launch in August 2022. Artemis II will hopefully launch in May 2024, and will be the first crewed flight of the Artemis project. There’s a lot to look forward to here, and we can’t wait to see how our understanding of the moon will change over the years.