On This Day: Apollo 11 Lands on the Moon in 1969

by John Jamison

It’s no coincidence that the Blue Origin space flight that carried Jeff Bezos and company to space took place today, on the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

That unforgettable day in 1969 gave the world something so unbelievable that some refused to admit it even happened. These days, NASA’s mind-blowing achievement is undeniable. And today we honor the brave souls who showed us that man’s quest for knowledge will not be deterred. We’re going to take a look back at one of the greatest adventures of all time.

On July 16, 1969, Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, and Michael Collins slipped the surly bonds of Earth and proceeded onward toward the moon. After a three-day journey through the hostile environment of space, they reached their destination.

Michael Collins watched as Aldrin and Armstrong boarded the lunar module, separated from the command module, and began their descent to the lunar surface. Neil Armstrong piloted Eagle manually, navigating over the Sea of Tranquility in search of a suitable landing site.

At 4:17 PM EDT on July 20, you could hear a pin drop in the Apollo 11 mission control room of the Johnson Space Center. All of a sudden, the radio crackled to life.

“Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed,” Armstrong reported from the surface of the moon. The entire world breathed a sigh of relief, marveling at the images being conveyed via the live feed.

“Roger, Tranquility. We copy you on the ground. You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We’re breathing again. Thanks a lot,” CAPCOM Charlie Duke replied.

Hours later, Armstrong was finally ready to exit the module. More than 500,000 million people watched as the Apollo 11 astronaut climbed down the ladder to the alien surface.

Apollo 11: ‘One Small Step for Man, One Giant Leap for Mankind’

“I’m at the foot of the ladder. The LEM footpads are only depressed in the surface about 1 or 2 inches, although the surface appears to be very, very fine-grained as you get close to it. It’s almost like a powder. Down there, it’s very fine. I’m going to step off the LEM now,” Armstrong narrated as he climbed down to the lunar surface.

After testing out his ability to get off and back onto the ladder, he gave the human race words that, with any luck, will never be forgotten.

“That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

The Apollo 11 mission resulted in arguably the greatest achievement in the history of the human race. Technologically, at the very least. But groundbreaking as it was, Apollo 11 and the subsequent missions in the years following proved to be something of a nonstarter.

Unmanned space travel has proven to be far more cost, safety, and results-efficient in the decades since Armstrong landed on the moon. But rest assured, with the manned Mars missions on the horizon, the legacy of those Apollo astronauts will be an invaluable source of inspiration.