Celebrating “One Giant Leap for Mankind”

Today is the 48th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing.  This moment, 9:56pm Houston time is the 48th Anniversary of the first human foot step on the Moon.

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At 3:18pm (CT), on Sunday, July 20, 1969,  Neil Armstrong successfully landed the Lunar Module (named the Eagle) on the lunar surface.  Six hours later, Neil Armstrong descended the steps of the landing module.  At 9:56pm (CT), Neil Armstrong became the first human on the moon.  He spoke these famous first words; “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”   Twenty minutes later,  Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin became the second human to step on the moon.

Armstrong and Aldrin then “unveiled” a plaque mounted on the leg strut behind the ladder that had two drawings of the Earth; the Eastern and Western hemispheres. It remains there today and reads:

“Here Men From Planet Earth
First Set Foot Upon The Moon
July 1969 A.D.
We Came In Peace For All Mankind”

Video of First Steps!

The two lunar explorers spent a little over two hours collecting surface material, planting the American flag and taking photos.  They then climbed back into the Eagle and slept for several hours while their “unsung hero”, Michael Collins, continued to patiently orbit in the Command Module (Columbia).  On Monday, July 21st at 12:54pm Houston time the upper stage of the Eagle blasted off the surface to rendezvous with Columbia.  After a three day return journey covering 200,000+ miles, on July 24, 1969, the three astronauts splashed down just before dawn in the Pacific Ocean 825 nautical miles SW of Hawaii in the Columbia capsule.

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Apollo 11 capsule after splashdown

On this day, 48 years ago, Armstrong and Aldrin became the first of only 12 humans (all men, all Americans) to walk on the moon.  Those 12 men are the only humans to ever leave Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and step on another natural object in space.

Mankind has not left LEO since the last Apollo Mission (17) in 1972!  No rocket as powerful as the Apollo missions’ Saturn V has been launched since 1972.   However, those “fun facts” are likely to change in our lifetimes…..

Interestingly, a remarkably similar photo to the one above, appeared in the Houston Chronicle just last week (below).  The photo however was not a celebrating a past NASA mission but instead was from recent NASA maneuvers in the Gulf to practice astronaut exit procedures for the new ORION spacecraft.

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Orion capsule testing off the coast of Galveston

LINK: Orion Testing News Story

The Orion crew capsule will launch aboard the new SLS rocket!
Beyond LEO Here We Come!!

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3 thoughts on “Celebrating “One Giant Leap for Mankind”

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