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Just the Facts: Apollo 11 Moon Landing


The mission that took U.S. astronauts to the Moon was Apollo 11, NASA’s fifth crewed Apollo mission. The astronauts on board the spacecraft were Neil Armstrong, Edwin (“Buzz”) Aldrin, Jr., and Michael Collins. On the morning of July 20, Armstrong and Aldrin crawled from the command module, Columbia, through a tunnel to the lunar module, Eagle. Armstrong and Aldrin piloted Eagle to the lunar surface, touching down in the Sea of Tranquility. At 4:17 PM U.S. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), Armstrong radioed, “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.” At 10:56 PM EDT on July 20, Armstrong stepped out onto the lunar soil with the words, “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.” (In the excitement of the moment, Armstrong skipped the “a” in the statement that he had prepared.) Armstrong and Aldrin set up a device to measure the composition of the solar wind reaching the Moon, a device to receive laser beams from astronomical observatories on Earth to determine the exact distance of the two bodies from one each other, and a passive seismometer to measure moonquakes and meteor impacts. They also took about 23 kg (50 pounds) of rock and soil samples, took many photographs, and maintained constant communication with mission control in Houston, Texas. After 21 hours 38 minutes on the Moon’s surface, the astronauts used Eagle’s ascent stage to launch it back into lunar orbit. Splashdown of Apollo 11 occurred in the Pacific Ocean about 1,400 km (900 miles) southwest of Hawaii on July 24.
After their return, the astronauts were quarantined for 21 days from the time Eagle had left the Moon. They were checked for any diseases they might have brought back from the Moon.
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