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Apollo 11 was the first mission organised to send people to the moon. It was done by NASA, the American space agency. It launched on July 16, 1969, carrying three astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. On July 20 1969 Armstrong and Aldrin became the first humans to land on the moon successfully while Collins flew above them.
Launch and landing
Millions of people around the world viewed the launch of Apollo 11 on television. The launch was a global event. Richard Nixon, who was then President, watched the launch from the White House. A Saturn V rocket launched the mission from the Kennedy Space Center in America.
About two hours after leaving Earth the Lunar Command and Landing Modules separated from the main rocket. 3 days later the crew entered Lunar Orbit (orbit around the moon). A day later the Landing section or Apollo Lunar Module separated from the command module. The Landing Module landed safely on the moon with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin aboard. During the landing there were several problems with the mission computer and to avoid a crash Armstrong had to take manual control of the landing craft. They eventually landed with only 25 seconds of fuel left.
The first thing Buzz Aldrin did upon touch down of the landing module was to pray. He also read some words of Jesus Christ. He did not reveal his intention to do this beforehand as someone had recently filed a lawsuit against NASA to stop astronauts from taking part in religious activity while in space. Armstrong became the first human to walk and speak on the moon's surface. The first words he said were:
|“||That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind ||”|
|Problems listening to this file? See media help.|
Leaving the moon and returning
After finishing their activity, the two astronauts returned to the landing module and slept for seven hours before starting to leave. While preparing for take off Aldrin accidentally broke the circuit breaker in the ignition. Armstrong used a felt tip pen to bridge the gap and prevent them from being stranded on the moon. Aldrin and Armstrong left many things on the moon: an American flag, a few experiments and a plaque bearing a statement from the human race. The plaque read
Here Men From The Planet Earth First Set Foot Upon the Moon, July 1969 A.D. We Came in Peace For All Mankind.
The plaque also held a disc containing messages from 73 leaders of countries around the world, the word hello spoken in almost every language known to man and a picture of two humans. On July 24 the astronauts returned to Earth and were immediately placed into quarantine (isolation), in case they brought back some unknown virus or disease from the moon that could be dangerous to humans.
The three astronauts stayed in quarantine for three weeks. Upon their release they were treated as heroes around the world. They had dinner with President Nixon, a parade in Mexico City and another in Washington. The three also faced many television interviews and guest appearances.
- Buzz Aldrin, Ken Abraham (2009) "Magnificent Desolation", Random House Publishers, p. 26.