Print     Close

The journey to the surface of the Moon began at Kennedy Space Center, Florida, with the liftoff of Apollo 11 on a Saturn V booster July 16, 1969.

On July 20, 1969, the Apollo astronauts arrived at the Moon. This photo is of Earthrise over the lunar horizon.

At 10:56 p.m. EDT on July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first human to set foot on the Moon. Armstrong took this picture of Aldrin who followed him to the surface about nineteen minutes later.

This plaque was affixed to the part of the lunar module, which remained behind on the moon. It reads: "Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon, July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind." It is signed by Armstrong, Collins, Aldrin, and President Nixon.

Aldrin and Armstrong had only a couple hours on the Moon in which to set up scientific experiments. Aldrin is shown here setting up the Passive Seismic Experiments Package. Behind Aldrin to the left is the Laser Ranging Retro-Reflector. The flag and the lunar surface television camera are left of the Lunar Module. This mission paved the way for the more extensive scientific studies done on later Apollo missions.

Armstrong took this picture of Aldrin, showing a reflection in Aldrin's visor of Armstrong and the Lunar Module. Note the footprints in the lunar dust. With no wind or water erosion, these marks could remain for millions of years unless obliterated by meteorites.

After lifting off from the moon, the lunar module, Eagle, made its rendezvous with Columbia, the command module. Astronaut Michael Collins had remained aboard the Columbia while Aldrin and Armstrong landed on the moon’s surface.

At 12:50 p.m. EDT on July 24, 1969, Columbia splashed down in the Pacific some 800 miles southwest of Hawaii. A Navy frogman assisted the three astronauts into a life raft. All four remained in quarantine for three weeks as a precaution against the possibility of contamination from the moon. Later tests on the moon rocks and dust proved that the moon was biologically inactive.

Photographs Courtesy of NASA