American Astronauts Walked on Moon 50 Years Ago Today

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American Astronauts Walked on Moon 50 Years Ago Today
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American Astronauts Walked on Moon 50 Years Ago Today
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At 10:56 PM Eastern Time on July 20, 1969, American astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first person to ever step foot on the Moon. Lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin joined Armstrong on the Moon’s surface about 20 minutes later. Today marks the 50th anniversary of the event.

A Saturn V rocket launched Apollo 11 into space from the Kennedy Space Center on July 16, 1969. The crew of three men, comprised of Armstrong, Aldrin, and Michael Collins, spent over 8 days in space. Collins operated the command module Columbia while Armstrong and Aldrin were on the Moon’s surface.

Aldrin and Armstrong spent a total of 21 hours and 31 minutes on the surface of the moon, landing in the Sea of Tranquility. The two astronauts named their landing site Tranquility Base. It took the crew about 3 days to travel from the Earth to the Moon’s orbit. The astronauts orbited the moon 30 times before landing.

Preparations for the astronauts to walk on the Moon took a bit longer than expected, three and a half hours instead of two. After the two men planted the American flag on the lunar surface, they spoke to President Nixon through a telephone-radio transmission.

Nixon: Hello, Neil and Buzz. I’m talking to you by telephone from the Oval Room at the White House. And this certainly has to be the most historic telephone call ever made. I just can’t tell you how proud we all are of what you’ve done. For every American, this has to be the proudest day of our lives. And for people all over the world, I am sure they too join with Americans in recognizing what an immense feat this is. Because of what you have done, the heavens have become a part of man’s world. And as you talk to us from the Sea of Tranquility, it inspires us to redouble our efforts to bring peace and tranquility to Earth. For one priceless moment in the whole history of man, all the people on this Earth are truly one: one in their pride in what you have done, and one in our prayers that you will return safely to Earth.”

Armstrong: “Thank you, Mr. President. It’s a great honor and privilege for us to be here, representing not only the United States, but men of peace of all nations, and with interest and curiosity, and men with a vision for the future. It’s an honor for us to be able to participate here today.

Video of the event was transmitted via slow-scan television, which is incompatible with broadcast TV. A special monitor displayed the event, and conventional video cameras were used to broadcast the images to home viewers. This method resulted in a significant loss of picture quality.

A stainless steel plaque was left on the Moon’s surface commemorating the event. The plaque features two drawings of the Earth, the signatures of all three astronauts and President Richard Nixon, and an inscription. The inscription reads: “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon July 1969, A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.”

A total of 12 people have walked on the Moon’s surface, all of them American men. The last manned lunar landing occurred in 1972. NASA astronauts plan on returning to the Moon by 2024.

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