“That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”
So said intrepid space explorer Neil Armstrong on July 20, 1969, the date this brave American became the first soul to ever traverse the surface of the moon. He spoke these words on the surface of the moon just before being joined by fellow astronaut Buzz Aldrin, who described the terrain beautifully and simply, calling it, “magnificent desolation.”
Apollo 11 launched from Cape Kennedy on July 16, 1969, carrying Commander Neil Armstrong, Command Module Pilot Michael Collins and Lunar Module Pilot Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin into an initial Earth-orbit of 114 by 116 miles. An estimated 530 million people watched Armstrong’s televised image and heard his voice describe the event as he took ‘…one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind’ on July 20, 1969.
At about 109 hours, 42 minutes after launch, Armstrong stepped onto the moon. About 20 minutes later, Aldrin followed him. Half an hour later, President Nixon spoke by telephone link with the astronauts. Armstrong and Aldrin spent 21 hours, 36 minutes on the moon’s surface.
After a flight of 195 hours, 18 minutes, 35 seconds—about 36 minutes longer than planned—Apollo 11 splashed down in the Pacific Ocean.
As one might imagine, this was a great feat for the scientific community.
It taught us about the composition of the moon. It gave us the first perspective of the Earth from Space. Overall, there are many technologies that we now use in our daily lives that we would not have if scientists did not continue to explore space. For example, weather satellites, freeze dried food, communication satellites, TV satellite dishes, medical imaging devices, the in-the-ear thermometer, fire-resistant materials used in firefighting, smoke detectors, sunglasses, cordless power tools, the Space Pen, shock-absorbing materials used in helmets, joystick video game controllers and even golf balls.
The Apollo 11 mission blazed the path for the future of space exploration. Engineers kept working on more sophisticated technologies that eventually took us to explore asteroids, and other planets. It paved the way for others to study space travel and cooperative efforts have now given us the International Space Station.
It inspired scientists to continue to explore space and look for ways to do the impossible.
This event also had a great impact on the non-scientific community.
According to Cory Plough, Laurel Springs’ Social Studies Academic Department Chair: “Earlier in the decade, president John F. Kennedy promised to put a man on the moon and bring [that person] home safely. Prior to actually landing on the moon, the idea was just one of science fiction. However, Kennedy’s promise and the brilliance of the scientists at NASA made it happen.
“In 1969, after a turbulent decade of protests, civil rights and the Vietnam War, Americans came together in an almost unparalleled moment of national pride to celebrate the glory of this accomplishment,” he continues. “Undoubtedly, the space race during the Cold War played a huge role in achieving Kennedy’s promise in such a short period of time. The U.S.S.R. had accomplished a tremendous amount in the space race and that pushed us to go further and further. Landing a man on the moon led many to believe that anything was possible and that if we could think it, we could do it.”
To learn more about the famed Apollo 11 mission and the moon landing, visit NASA.gov .