Yesterday made forty years since the launch of Apollo 11, the mission of the first manned moon landing. The journey from the Earth to the Moon, which had previously been taken by the crews of Apollo 8 and Apollo 10, took three days, followed by thirty lunar orbits to scout and verify landing sites. Then, on July 20, forty years ago Monday, mission commander Neil Armstrong and lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin entered the Eagle, disconnected from the Columbia command module, and descended to the surface of the moon.
Six and a half hours after the landing, at around 11 in the evening Eastern Time, Armstrong exited the spacecraft and climbed down and stood on the landing pad at the foot of the ladder. “Okay, I’m gonna step off the LEM now,” he told mission control. And as he hopped off the pad and onto the lunar surface itself he said, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Aldrin joined him outside soon after and uttered his first words upon seeing the Moon with his own eyes: “Magnificent desolation.”
I’ll have more to say on Monday for the anniversary of the landing and the moonwalk, but for now check out this trio of videos from YouTube. The first is footage of the launch of the Saturn V rocket that carried the vessels and crew of Apollo 11 into space. The second is the actual lunar landing, following the Eagle from orbit to the surface. The last is Armstrong’s and Aldrin’s (and humanity’s) first steps on the moon. Be amazed.
And one more thing: This week NASA released a series of restored high definition videos of various parts of the Apollo 11 landing. They look absolutely stunning, way better picture quality than the ones I have embedded above. Check them out here. Be more amazed.