The year is 1969. Bell-bottom pants are everywhere. The Beatles just performed for the last time. Richard Nixon is president of the United States. And the world is about to change forever. On July 20, 1969, a human will touch down on the Moon for the first time.
Astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins have trained hard for this journey. Armstrong was chosen to lead the Apollo 11 mission. After months of hard work, the time is here. The crew blasts off on a Saturn V rocket on July 16. In clouds of smoke, the spacecraft shoots up from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The explorers speed through space for more than three days. Then, they enter the Moon’s orbit. Armstrong and Aldrin get ready to make history. They put on their spacesuits and get into the lunar module. That spacecraft — called the Eagle — is their ride down to the Moon! The lunar module touches down on the surface. “The Eagle has landed,” Armstrong says to Mission Control in Houston, Texas.
About 650 million people around the world watch the landing. They crowd around TVs to see Armstrong exit the craft. The astronaut climbs down the ladder. At the bottom, he moves his left foot up, up, up, and down. Armstrong is now the first human to ever step foot on another world. He sends a message back to Earth.
“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Armstrong was alone on the Moon for about 20 minutes. Then, Aldrin joined him. Aldrin was second on the surface, but he’s the star of many photos. That’s because Armstrong had the only camera! (The astronaut on the cover is Aldrin. You can see Armstrong’s reflection in the visor!)
The two astronauts spent about 2 hours and 30 minutes walking on the Moon. They collected rocks and dust to bring back. The men also planted an American flag and left behind a plaque. “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon,” it said. “We came in peace for all mankind.”
After more than 21 hours on the Moon, Armstrong and Aldrin flew back up to meet Collins. They boarded the craft that would get all three of them home safely. Before their return, Aldrin shared his own message. “This has been far more than three men on a voyage to the Moon,” he said. The astronaut explained that the mission was bigger than governments, businesses, or “the efforts of one nation.” He called the trip a sign of humans pushing “to explore the unknown.”
Armstrong spoke too. He thanked the thousands of people who helped get the crew to the Moon. Then, he signed off: “Good night from Apollo 11.”
Updated July 19, 2019, 5:02 P.M. (ET)
By Ashley Morgan
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