The mission was Apollo 11 and launched on July 16, 1969. Four days later on July 20, 1969 at 10:56 PM EDT American astronaut Neil Armstrong stepped off the ladder of his lunar landing module called the Eagle to become the first human to set foot on the surface of the moon. His famous words, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” were heard by more than a billion people watching and listening from their homes around the world. It was indeed a moment in America’s history that again defined who we were as a people. We were a people that made the impossible possible and achieved what many believed unachievable. Americans watched in awe and with pride as one of our own became the first do conquer to the unknown. Below is a clip from that very special day.
The following is from History.com.
The American effort to send astronauts to the moon has its origins in a famous appeal President John F. Kennedy made to a special joint session of Congress on May 25, 1961: “I believe this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth.” At the time, the United States was still trailing the Soviet Union in space developments, and Cold War-era America welcomed Kennedy’s bold proposal.
In 1966, after five years of work by an international team of scientists and engineers, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) conducted the first unmanned Apollo mission, testing the structural integrity of the proposed launch vehicle and spacecraft combination. Then, on January 27, 1967, tragedy struck at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, when a fire broke out during a manned launch-pad test of the Apollo spacecraft and Saturn rocket. Three astronauts were killed in the fire.
Despite the setback, NASA and its thousands of employees forged ahead, and in October 1968, Apollo 7, the first manned Apollo mission, orbited Earth and successfully tested many of the sophisticated systems needed to conduct a moon journey and landing. In December of the same year, Apollo 8 took three astronauts to the dark side of the moon and back, and in March 1969 Apollo 9 tested the lunar module for the first time while in Earth orbit. Then in May, the three astronauts of Apollo 10 took the first complete Apollo spacecraft around the moon in a dry run for the scheduled July landing mission.
At 9:32 a.m. on July 16, with the world watching, Apollo 11 took off from Kennedy Space Center with astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin Jr., and Michael Collins aboard. Armstrong, a 38-year-old civilian research pilot, was the commander of the mission. After traveling 240,000 miles in 76 hours, Apollo 11 entered into a lunar orbit on July 19. The next day, at 1:46 p.m., the lunar module Eagle, manned by Armstrong and Aldrin, separated from the command module, where Collins remained. Two hours later, the Eagle began its descent to the lunar surface, and at 4:18 p.m. the craft touched down on the southwestern edge of the Sea of Tranquility. Armstrong immediately radioed to Mission Control in Houston, Texas, a famous message: “The Eagle has landed.”
With all that is unfolding with the tragic events that have occurred in Aurora Colorado, I thought it might be a good thing to remind people what America achieved on this day 43 years ago. It was one of our finest moments. We are still a great people and we will get through this. We must gather the facts and not act out of emotion. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Aurora community.
Liberty forever, freedom for all.