23 & 24 - MISSION DAYS 8 & 9 - Mission Control wakes the crew up at
12:20 p.m. (EDT) and it begins a relaxed routine of checking systems.
By 3:56 p.m. the spacecraft passes the midway point of journey homeward,
101,000 nautical miles from splashdown. Later that evening, at 7:03
p.m., the astronauts begin their final color television transmission.
last day of the mission, July 24, begins with a wake up call from Mission
Control at 6:47 a.m. At 12:21 the crew separated the Command and Service
modules. Fourteen minutes later the Command module re-enters Earth's
atmosphere. Splashdown occurs at 12:51 p.m. approximately 825 nautical
miles southwest of Honolulu and about 13 nautical miles from the recovery
ship, the U.S.S. Hornet.
At 1:20 p.m., Navy frogmen open the hatch of
command module and hand isolation suits to the crew. Eight minutes later
the astronauts emerge from the spacecraft in isolation suits and are
sprayed with a disinfectant as a guard against the possibility of their
contaminating the Earth with moon "germs." About twenty minutes later,
the crew of Apollo 11 arrives on the flight deck of the U.S.S. Hornet
and immediately walk into the mobile quarantine trailer where they will
remain until they arrive at the Lunar Receiving Laboratory at Houston
early July 27.
At 3:00 p.m. President Nixon welcomes the astronauts,
visible through a window of the trailer. Speaking over an intercom,
he greets them, extends them an invitation to attend a dinner with him
August 13 and tells them: "This is the greatest week in the history
of the world since the Creation.... As a result of what you have done,
the world's never been closer together .... We can reach for the stars
just as you have reached so far for the stars."
So ends the world's
first mission to the moon. It has lasted 195 hours, 18 minutes and 35
seconds or a little more than eight days. It was recognized as the most
trouble-free mission to date, almost completely on schedule and successful
in every respect.
22 -- MISSION DAY 7 - With the excitement of traversing the surface
of the moon now just a vivid memory, the crew begins its trip home in
earnest. At 12:56 a.m. (EDT), while 60 nautical miles above the backside
of the moon, Mike Collins fires the Command Module's engine to execute
the transearth injection burn. Now well on their way home, the astronauts
go to sleep at about 4 a.m.
By 1:00 p.m., the crew begins waking for first full day of return
trip. Thirty-nine minutes later, the spacecraft passes the point in
space (33,800 nautical miles from the moon and 174,000 from the Earth)
where the Earth's gravity takes over and begins drawing the astronauts
homeward. Later, at 4:02 p.m., Mission Control deems a midcourse correction
is necessary to readjust the flight path of the spacecraft.
To cap the day at 9 p.m., the crew enjoys an 18-minute, live TV
transmission to Earth. The crewmembers recap their exploits of recently
days gone by.
21 - MISSION DAY 6 - The morning after.
11:13 a.m.: The astronauts resting inside Eagle on the surface of
the moon are awakened. Aldrin announces: "Neil has rigged himself
a really good hammock and he's been lying on the hatch and engine
cover, and I curled up on the floor."
12:42 p.m.: Answering a question raised before they went to sleep,
Aldrin reports: "We are in a boulder field where boulders range generally
up to two feet, with a few larger than that... Some of the boulders
are lying on top of the surface, some are partially exposed, and some
are just barely exposed."
1:54 p.m.: Ascent engine is started and LM, using descent stage
as a launch pad, begins rising and reaches a vertical speed of 80
feet per second at 1,000 feet altitude.
The astronauts take with them in the ascent stage the soil samples,
the aluminum foil with the "solar wind" particles it has collected,
the film used in taking photographs with still and motion picture
cameras, the flags and other mementos to be returned to Earth. Behind
they leave a number of items, reducing the weight of the ship from
15,897 pounds as it landed on the Moon to 10,821 pounds.
The largest item left behind is the descent stage, that part of
the landing craft with the plaque on one of its spidery legs. Others
include the TV camera, two still cameras, tools used in collecting
samples, portable life support systems, lunar boots, American flag,
rod support for the "solar wind" experiment instrument, laser beam
reflector, seismic detector, and a gnomon, a device to verify colors
of objects photographed.
5:35 p.m.: Eagle redocks with Columbia while circling on the back
side of the Moon.
7:42 p.m.: Armstrong and Aldrin, inside the ascent stage just after
taking off from the moon, are now back inside the Command Module.
The landing craft is jettisoned, and the astronauts are now homeward
bound, as they start the first leg of their return trip to Earth.
20 -- MISSION DAY 5 -- The day man walks on the moon for the first time.
At 9:27 a.m. (eastern time), Buzz Aldrin crawls into the Lunar Module
and starts to power-up the spacecraft. About an hour later, Neil Armstrong
enters the LM and together they continue to check the systems and
deploy the landing legs.
The landing craft is separated from the command module at 1:46 p.m.
and at 4:05 p.m., Armstrong throttles up the engine to slow the LM
before dropping down on the lunar surface. The landing is not easy.
The site they approach is four miles from the target point, on the
southwestern edge of the Sea of Tranquility. Seeing that they are
approaching a crater about the size of a football field and covered
with large rocks, Armstrong takes over manual control and steers the
craft to a smoother spot. His heartbeat has risen from a normal 77
4:18 p.m.: The craft settles down with a jolt almost like that of
a jet landing on a runway. Armstrong immediately radios Mission Control
"The Eagle has landed."
Aldrin, looking out of the LM window, reports: "It looks like a
collection of just about every variety of shapes, angularities and
granularities, every variety of rock you could find. There doesn't
appear to be much of a general color at all; however, it looks as
though some of the rocks and boulders are going to have some interesting
colors to them."
The first task after landing is that of preparing the ship for launching;
of seeing that all is in readiness to make the ascent back to a rendezvous
with the command spacecraft orbiting above.
10:39 p.m.: More than five hours ahead of the original schedule,
Armstrong opens the LM hatch and squeezes through the opening. It
is a slow process. Strapped to his shoulders is a portable life support
and communications system weighing 84 pounds on Earth, 14 on the Moon,
with provision for pressurization; oxygen requirements and removal
of carbon dioxide.
Armstrong moves slowly down the 10-foot, nine-step ladder. On reaching
the second step, he pulls a "D-ring," within easy reach, deploying
a television camera, so arranged on the LM that it will depict him
to Earth as he proceeds from that point.
Down the ladder he moves and halts on the last step. "I'm at the
foot of the ladder," he reports. "The LM footpads are only depressed
in the surface about one or two inches. . . the surface appears to
be very, very finegrained, as you get close to it, it's almost like
10:56 p.m.: Armstrong puts his left foot on the Moon. It is the
first time in history that man has ever stepped on anything that has
not existed on, or originated from, the Earth.
"That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind," Armstrong
radios. Aldrin is taking photographs from inside the spacecraft.
Armstrong surveys his surroundings for a while and then moves out,
testing himself in a gravity environment one-sixth of that on Earth.
"The surface is fine and powdery," he says. "I can pick it up loosely
with my toe. It does adhere in fine layers like powdered charcoal
to the sole and sides of my boots. I only go in a small fraction of
an inch. Maybe an eighth of an inch, but I can see the footprints
of my boots and the treads in the fine sandy particles. There seems
to be no difficulty in moving around as we suspected. It's even perhaps
easier than the simulations."
Feeling more confident, Armstrong begins making a preliminary collection
of soil samples close to the landing craft. This is done with a bag
on the end of a pole.
"This is very interesting," he comments. "It's a very soft surface,
but here and there ... I run into a very hard surface, but it appears
to be very cohesive material of the same sort. It has a stark beauty
all its own. It's like much of the high desert of the United States."
He collects a small bagful of soil and stores it in a pocket on
the left leg of his space suit. This is done early, according to plan,
to make sure some of the moon surface is returned to Earth in case
the mission has to be cut short.
11:11 p.m.: Aldrin emerges from the landing craft and backs down
the ladder, while his companion photographs him.
"These rocks ... are rather slippery," Armstrong says. The astronauts
report that the powdery surface seems to fill up the fine pores on
the rocks, and they tend to slide over them rather easily.
Armstrong fits a long focal length lens into position on the TV
camera and trains it upon a small, stainless steel plaque on one of
the legs of the landing craft. He reads: "Here men from the planet
Earth first set foot on the Moon. July 1969 A.D. We came in peace
for all mankind." Below the inscription are the names of the Apollo
crew and President Nixon.
11:41 p.m.: From a leg of the spacecraft, the astronauts take a
three-by-five-foot, nylon United States flag, its top edge braced
by a spring wire to keep it extended on the windless Moon and erect
it on a staff pressed into the lunar surface.
Taken to the Moon are two other U.S. flags, to be brought back and
flown over the houses of Congress, the flags of the 50 States, the
District of Columbia and U.S. territories, the United Nations flag,
as well as those of 136 foreign countries.
11:47 p.m.: Mission Control announces: "The President of the United
States is in his office now and would like to say a few words to you."
Armstrong replies: "That would be an honor."
11:48 p.m.: The astronauts listen as the President speaks by telephone:
"Neil and Buzz. I am talking to you from the Oval Room at the White
House. And this certainly has to be the most historic telephone call
ever made. 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 a feat this is. Because of
what you have done, the heavens have become a part of man's world.
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."
As the President finishes speaking, Armstrong replies: "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 a curiosity and a vision for the future. It's
an honor for us to be able to participate here today."
The two astronauts stand at attention, saluting directly toward
the television as the telephone conversation concludes.
12:54 a.m.: After checking with Mission Control to make sure all
chores have been completed, experiments set up, and photographs taken,
the astronauts start back up the ladder to re-enter the LM.
1:11 a.m.: The hatch is closed. The astronauts begin removing the
portable life support systems on which they have depended for two
hours and 47 minutes.
4:25 a.m.: Astronauts are told to go to sleep, after attending to
final housekeeping details and answering a number of questions concerning
the geology of the moon.
19 -- MISSION DAY 4 - At 6:58 a.m. (EDT) the astronauts call Mission
Control to inquire about a scheduled course correction and are told
it has been cancelled. They are also advised they may go back to sleep.
At 8:32 a.m.- Mission Control signals to arouse crew and to start
them on breakfast and housekeeping chores. Armstrong announces: "The
view of the moon that we've been having recently is really spectacular.
It's a view worth the price of the trip."
12:58 p.m.- The crew is informed by Mission Control: "You are go
for LOI (Lunar Orbit Insertion)." Aldrin replies: "Roger, go for LOI."
At 1:13 p.m. the spacecraft passes completely behind the Moon and
out of radio contact with the Earth for the first time. At 1:28 p.m.
the spacecraft's main rocket, a 20,500-pound-thrust engine, is fired
for about six minutes to slow the vehicle so that it can be captured
by lunar gravity. It is still behind the moon. The resulting orbit
ranges from a low of 61.3 nautical miles to a high of 168.8 nautical
At 5:44 p.m. a second burn of the spacecraft's main engine, this
one for 17 seconds, is employed while the spacecraft is on the back
side of the moon to stabilize the orbit at about 54 by 66 nautical
miles. Armstrong and Aldrin crawl through the tunnel into the lunar
module to give it another check. The spacecraft is orbiting the moon
every two hours.
17, 18 - MISSION DAYS 2 & 3 -- Now headed for the moon, the astronuats
are given a brief review of the morning's news from Mission Control
including sports developments. They are informed about the progress
of the Russian space ship Lunar 15, and that Vice President Spiro T.
Agnew, ranking government official at the Apollo 11 blastoff, has called
for putting a man on Mars by the year 2000.
At 12:17 p.m. (EDT) a midcourse correction is made with a three-second
burn, sharpening the course of the spacecraft and testing the engine
that must get them in and out of lunar orbit.
After breakfast, on Mission Day 3, they begin housekeeping chores,
such as charging batteries, dumping waste water, and checking fuel
and oxygen reserves. Later, Mission Control tells them that course
corrections scheduled for afternoon will not be necessary. By 4:40
p.m. the spacecraft is 175,000 nautical miles from Earth and only
48,000 from the moon. The hatch to the LM is opened and Neil Armstrong
squeezes through the 30-inch-wide tunnel to inspect it. He is followed
16 - MISSION DAY 1 -- At 4:15 a.m., Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong,
Michael Collins, and Edwin E. (Buzz) Aldrin, Jr., are awakened. After
a breakfast of orange juice, steak, scrambled eggs, toast and coffee,
they begin suiting up. At 6:27 a.m., they leave in an air-conditioned
van for the launch pad eight miles away.
Watching is a world-wide television audience and an estimated million
eyewitnesses, standing three and one-half miles away on the Florida
sandflats. The weather is highly suitable with winds at 10 knots from
the southeast, the temperature in the mid-80's, and clouds at 15,000
At 9:32 a.m. EDT, Apollo 11 blasts off from Launch Pad 39A at Cape
Kennedy, Fla., starting what is looked upon as the greatest single
step in human history -- a trip to the Moon; a manned landing and
a safe return to Earth.
As the rocket clears the tower, the last words from Launch Control
are: "Good luck and Godspeed." Commander Armstrong replies,
"Thank you very much. We know this will be a good flight."
Approximately three hours after liftoff, the Saturn V breaks from
of Earth's gravity and heads for the moon and a place in history.
15 - COUNTDOWN AT 1 -- The Apollo 11 team exuded a determined confidence,
expressing fear only that the teeming Cape Kennedy area would not be
able to handle the onslaught of moon-shot visitors. "One thing
we have not simulated that will probably be a problem is the traffic
pattern," said Dr. Kurt Debus, Kennedy Space Center director and
boss of the 22,000-man launch team.
After a rigorous training schedule, the astronauts held a unique
televised press conference while in quarantine at KSC, some 15 miles
away from their questioners. "We're willing and ready to achieve
our national goal," Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong told the
press. When asked if they were afraid, there was a long pause while
each waited for the other to answer. Armstrong finally said, "I
wouldn't say fear is an unknown emotion to us. There is knowledge
that there may be something you haven't thought of...or can't cope
with. But as a crew ... we have no fear of launching out on this expedition,"
he said. Buzz Aldrin added, "Anticipation characterizes my feelings."
Mike Collins complained: "I have no TV (in the mother ship) ...
I'm one of the few Americans who won't be able to see the EVA (moonwalk)."
14 - COUNTDOWN AT 2 -- The Apollo 11 astronauts spent a quiet day at
their moonport. Neil Armstrong, Mike Collins and Buzz Aldrin spent most
of the day in the astronaut apartments at the Kennedy Space Center.
Most of the Apollo launch team also took at least part of the day off
for some rest. The countdown was stopped for 16 hours -- as scheduled
-- to allow a pause in the hectic preparations. In the "firing
room" of the launch control center, fewer than 100 people kept
watch over the giant rocket. That number would grow to 600 at blastoff
13 COUNTDOWN at 3 -- The Apollo 11 astronauts, in their final few days
before going to the moon, eased up on their rigid training and did some
"fun" flying. The crew started the day inside spacecraft trainers,
but two of them broke away in the afternoon to sharpen their piloting
skills above the flat Florida landscape. The countdown for their historic
lunar journey moved along smoothly through the day, still aimed at a
9:32 a.m. blastoff of the giant Saturn V rocket on Wednesday, July 16.
12 - COUNTDOWN AT 4 -- Three healthy astronauts and a healthy Apollo
11 moon rocket moved a step closer to a lunar launch on July, 12, 1969.
Doctor Charles Berry pronounced astronauts Neil Armstrong, Mike Collins
and Buzz Aldrin "ready for flight." The countdown moved through
its first full day with only two minor problems - both having been corrected
-- and officials remained confident of an on-time blastoff, July 16,
at 9:32 a.m. EDT.