8 Little-Known Facts About the Moon Landing

8 Little-Known Facts About the Moon Landing

It was a feat for the ages. Just seven years before, a young president had challenged the nation to land a man on the moon—not because it was “easy,” as John F. Kennedy said in 1962, but because it was “hard.” By July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong backed down a ladder and onto the moon’s surface.

Along the way to achieving JFK’s vision, there was plenty of hard work, drama and surprise. Here are some lesser-known moments throughout the epic U.S. effort to reach the moon.

Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin Aldrin Jr. made up the team that would go down in history as part of the first successful mission to put a man on the moon.

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Astronaut, military pilot and educator Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon on July 20, 1969. He served as the commander on the Apollo 11 mission.

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Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, born Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., served as the lunar module pilot on the Apollo 11 mission. Aldrin became the second man to step onto the moon.

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Astronaut Michael Collins, who had been part of the Gemini 10 mission, served as the command module pilot on Apollo 11. Collins never set foot on the moon, but remained in orbit as his fellow astronauts explored the moon’s surface.

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On July 16, 1969 at 9:32 a.m. ET, the swing arms moved away and a plume of flame signaled the liftoff of Apollo 11’s Saturn V space vehicle.

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Former President Lyndon B. Johnson watches the liftoff at the Kennedy Space Center.

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Armstrong took this photograph of Aldrin on the moon.

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This photograph of Aldrin’s bootprint records one of the first steps taken on the moon.

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Aldrin stands beside the newly-planted American flag.

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President Richard M. Nixon telephoned “Tranquility Base” to speak with astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin during during their historic mission.

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With a half-Earth in the background, the Lunar Module approaches for a rendezvous with the Apollo Command Module manned by Collins. Armstrong and Aldrin rejoined Collins after spending 22 hours on the moon’s surface.

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On July 24, 1969 NASA and Manned Spacecraft Center officials join the flight controllers in celebrating the conclusion of the Apollo 11 mission.

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President Nixon speaks with Apollo 11 crew members upon their return to Earth. The three astronauts were quarantined for 21 days to ensure they would not spread any possible contaminants picked up on the moon.

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