Apollo 11 and the first steps on the moon: A look back at the missions that marked space history

Houston, Tranquility Base is here. The eagle landed on the ground“. As the shadow of the eagle freezes on the lunar surface, a few words blare on the radio. That’s it, after years of preparation, the Americans have succeeded: for the first time, they put a machine on the surface of the moon. The first part of a mission that became historic: Apollo. 11.

Why was the Apollo 11 mission organized?

Apollo 11 is, as its name suggests, the 11th mission of the Apollo program launched in 1961 by the American space agency NASA at the request of President John F. Kennedy. The project is part of the space race in which the United States is engaged against the Soviet Union, which at the time had already achieved several space achievements, including sending the world’s first man. Space, Yuri Gagarin.

The goal of the Apollo program was to land a man on the moon before the end of the 1960s. Several unmanned missions prior to Apollo 11 were aimed at building the Saturn V rocket used for takeoff and specifically the lunar module. The program’s first manned flight – Apollo 1 – was originally scheduled for March 1967 but was canceled after its crew died during a live rehearsal on 27 January.

In the picture, in the picture 50 years later, revisit images of Apollo 11 and man’s first steps on the moon

As part of the program, four preparatory manned flights were conducted from 1968 to simulate various phases and techniques of future lunar missions. Apollo 11 was the first of these missions.

Who walked on the moon during Apollo 11?

The Apollo 11 crew consisted of three astronauts: Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Michael Collins, who were 39 years old. The first is called the Commander, the second is the Lunar Module Pilot, the third is the Command and Service Module Pilot. Armstrong was the first to walk on the moon, followed by Aldrin. Collins remained in the module in lunar orbit.

How did the Apollo 11 mission go?

The Apollo 11 mission began on July 16, 1969, and ended eight days later, on July 24, with the three astronauts returning to Earth. The Saturn V launcher lifted off with the Apollo spacecraft and its crew from the Cape Canaveral Air Base in Florida on the East Coast of the United States at 1:32 PM UTC.

Twelve minutes later, they were placed in Earth’s orbit. The trip from Earth to the Moon then lasted three days after which the Apollo spacecraft were placed in lunar orbit. After thirteen rotations around the satellite, the two parts of the ship separate to leave the module the eagle Prepare then surface.

Armstrong and Aldrin were on board, Collins remained in the module Columbia. The landing site was carefully chosen: it was in the Sea of ​​Tranquility, about 20 km from a crater called Sabine D. However, the procedure did not go as planned and the site was overrun by 7 km.

The Eagle finally landed on July 20, 1969 at 8:17 p.m. The operation was confirmed by Armstrong, much to the relief of the team on Earth with this message: “Houston, it’s Tranquility Base, Eagle landed“A very long preparation followed for the departure of additional vehicles.

⋙ Apollo 11 Mission: Humorous Traits of Astronauts on the Moon

Armstrong’s first steps on the Moon took place at 2:56 UTC on July 21, more than 6 hours after landing. This feat was followed by millions of viewers around the world who heard the now legendary phrase: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” in french, “It’s one small step for man, [mais] A giant leap for humanity”.

19 minutes later, it was Buzz Aldrin’s turn to step on the moon. The two spent a total of two and a half hours on the surface of the satellite, collecting most of the samples and setting up the scientific instruments. In total, about twenty kilograms of lunar material were collected and brought back inside the module.

After completing this mission, Armstrong and Aldrin returnedthe eagle Then, a few hours later, the Command Module was successfully launched into lunar orbit. It took two and a half days to return to Earth after which the three astronauts splashed into the Pacific Ocean before being picked up by an aircraft carrier. USS Hornets.

Astronauts become national heroes

Being the first men to reach the Moon and set foot on its soil, the astronauts were greeted with a triumphant return to Earth. Notably by President Richard Nixon who followed the mission closely and communicated with the trio by radio and was on board the host aircraft carrier.

The three astronauts of the Apollo 11 mission in July 1969: from left to right, Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin. © NASA

After being placed in quarantine, Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins embarked on a celebratory tour that ended just 38 days later and took them to nearly 20 countries. The mission had an international impact, particularly in the press, and established the three astronauts as national and space heroes.

After Apollo 11, none of the three flew into space again although the Apollo program continued with other lunar missions. Neil Armstrong died in 2012 at the age of 82 and Michael Collins in 2021 at the age of 90. Buzz Aldrin, now 92, is the only one still alive.

With an estimated 600 million viewers, man’s first step on the moon is one of the most watched television events in history. He has inspired many documentaries and fiction, including films First Man: The first man on the moon Damien Chazelle was released in 2018 alongside Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong.

Other Apollo missions

This first mission not only made it possible to practice the various procedures required for traveling and landing on the Moon. Studied for years after being brought back to Earth, samples and data collected at the site have provided us with unprecedented knowledge about the satellite, particularly its geology.

With the success of Apollo 11, the United States was able to demonstrate its technological superiority and impose itself on the space race. The following is a location confirmed by the Apollo missions. Six manned flights followed: Apollo 12 in November 1969, Apollo 13 which came close to disaster in April 1970, Apollo 14 in January–February 1971, Apollo 15 in July–August 1971, Apollo 16 in April 1972, and Apollo 1971 in December 1972.

⋙ Apollo 11 and Others: What You Didn’t Know About the Conquest of the Moon

A total of twelve astronauts walked on the moon. The last was Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmidt during Apollo 17. Three missions were initially intended to succeed it, Apollo 18, Apollo 19 and Apollo 20 but they never happened due to budget cuts that led to premature delays in the Apollo program that would have cost it. A little over 280 billion dollars (about 270 million euros).

No man has walked on the moon or moved more than a few hundred kilometers from Earth since Apollo 17. Although our satellite has been the subject of several exploration missions, it was not until 2019 that the United States decided to launch a new manned space program towards the Moon: the Artemis program which aims to send a crew to the lunar soil by 2025.

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