Apollo 11

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Apollo 11 was the first mission to land a man on the moon. It was launched on a Saturn V rocket at at 9.32am local time (EDT) on July 16, 1969 from Pad 39-A from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, USA.  It was the fifth manned mission in the Apollo Program.

Apollo 11 Crew Picture

The Apollo 11 Crew

The Apollo 11 crew were:

 - Neil Armstrong (Commander),
 - Edwin 'Buzz' Aldrin (Lunar Module Pilot) and
 - Michael Collins (Command Module Pilot).

The back up crew were:

 - James Lovell (Backup Commander),
 - Fred Haise (Backup Lunar Module Pilot) and
 - William A. Anders (Backup Command Module Pilot).

Apollo 11 Mission

The crew for Apollo 11 was announced in January 1969. 29 astronauts trained for the Apollo missions to the Moon. Neil Armstrong was chosen as the Commander and Edwin 'Buzz' Aldrin was the Lunar Module Pilot and Michael Collins was the Command Module Pilot.

The astronauts blasted off on a Saturn V rocket at at 9.32am EDT on July 16, 1969. The Command Module was called Columbia and the Apollo Lunar Module was called Eagle. The launch weight of the Saturn V was 2,923,387 kg and the total spacecraft weight was 46,678 kg. The Command Service Module weighed 30,320 kg (CM was 5960 kg, Service Module: 24,360 kg). The Lunar Module weighted 16,448 kg, of which ascent stage was 4985 kg and the descent stage 11,463 kg.

The Translunar injection was at 12:16pm EDT. The Command Service Module and the Lunar Module (CSM-LM) docked at 12:56pm. The spacecraft went into lunar orbit insertion at 1:21pm on July 19. The CSM-LM separated at 2:11pm on July 20.

Separate from Columbia

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Edwin 'Buzz' Aldrin descended in the Lunar Module Eagle and landed in the Sea of Tranquility and became the first humans to walk on the moon. Astronaut Michael Collins remained aboard the Columbia Command Module and orbited the Moon during the first lunar landing. After a careful visual inspection, Eagle fired its engine and began its descent. This was the third flight of the lunar module in the Apollo program.

Moon Landing

During the descent to the lunar surface at 6000 feet, a yellow caution light came on in the Lunar Module and the astronauts encountered serious problem which might have caused them to abort. The astronauts noticed that the intended landing site was rockier than surveillance photographs had indicated. Armstrong took manual control of the lunar module at that point and guided it to a landing.

The Eagle landed on the Moon on at 4:17pm EDT on July 20, 1969 with less than 30 seconds worth of fuel left in the lunar module. The Apollo 11 landing site was Sea of Tranquility.

On landing the Eagle announced: "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed!". Houston replied: "Roger, Tranquility. We copy you on the ground. You've got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We're breathing again. Thanks a lot".

First Moon Walk

Six hours after landing, Neil Armstrong stepped off the Eagle Lunar Module onto the surface of the Moon at 10:56pm EDT on July 20.

Neil Armstrong made the first human footprint on the moon. Neil Armstrong said, "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind".

Lunar Exploration

The Lunar Module spent 21 hours 36 minutes on the lunar surface and the crew spent 2 hours 31 minutes outside the Lunar Module. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin deployed various instruments and the American Flag. They collected 21 kg (46 lb) of moon rocks and soil.

The astronauts left behind scientific instruments such as a retro reflector array used for the Lunar Laser Ranging Experiment, an American Flag and other mementos, including a plaque.

The inscription read:

Here Men From Planet Earth First Set Foot Upon the Moon July 1969 A.D. We Came in Peace For All Mankind.

The plaque was affixed to leg of the Lunar Module and it was signed by US President Richard Nixon, Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin 'Buzz' Aldrin. The two drawings of Earth were of the Western and Eastern Hemispheres. The plaque was made of stainless steel.


Using the descent stage of the LM as a launching platform, the ascent stage of the Lunar Module lifted off from the moon's surface at 1:54pm on July 21 to rendezvous and dock with the Command Service Module. There was less than 30 seconds of fuel remaining when the Lunar Module took off. The LM-CSM docked at 5:34pm EDT.

The total time in Lunar Orbit for the Command Module was 59.5 hours with 30 orbits. The Lunar Module ascent stage was left in lunar orbit.

Splashdown on Earth

The Command Module (Apollo Capsule) was the only part of the whole Saturn V / Apollo Spacecraft to return through the Earth's atmosphere. The Command Module used parachutes to land. It splashed down in the Pacific Ocean safely at 12:50pm EDT on July 24, 1969.

The splashdown location was 13 deg 19 min N, 169 deg 9 min W, 400 miles (640 km) SW of Wake Island, North Pacific Ocean and was 24 km (15 miles) from the U.S.S Hornet  recovery ship.

The astronauts returned to Earth with first samples from anther planetary body. The total mission duration of Apollo 11 was 8 Days, 03 Hours, 18 Min. 35 Seconds (July 16 - 24, 1969).

As a precautionary measure, the astronauts were quarantined for 14 days.

Did you know?

 * Apollo Missions 18,19 and 20 were cancelled due to budgetary reasons.

Apollo 11 Space Patch Picture

* Picture of Apollo 11 Space Patch.

Apollo 11 crew contributed to the creation of the patch. Jim Lovell, the back-up to Neil Armstrong suggested a bald eagle as the symbol of America.

Michael Collins sketched the initial version of the eagle on the patch adding the Earth overhead.

 * The Command Module is displayed at the National Air and Space Museum, Washington, D.C., USA.

 * Humans achieved one of the greatest technological achievement of all time when a human first set foot on another celestial body.

* EDT Eastern Daylight Time) is 4 hours behind of Universal Time (UTC). Please note that EDT is a daylight saving time/summer time zone. It is generally only used during the summer in Florida. During the winter EST is used instead.

 * The USA plans to return to the Moon in the Crew Exploration Vehicle by 2020.

Books and Merchandise:

Lunar Exploration: Human Pioneers and Robotic Surveyors  by Paolo Ulivi, David M Harland

Apollo: The Lost and Forgotten Missions by David J. Shayler.

Apollo DVD

  Apollo DVD - variety of dvds

The Dish: Australian Movie


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Updated: Tuesday 1st, April, 2014