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First Moon Landing
July 20, 1969


Astronaut Neil A. Armstrong of the lunar module Eagle decended the steps and was the first person to physically touch the moon at 10:56 p.m. eastern daylight time, July 20, 1969. With that step came the historic words heard by an estimated 600 million television viewers, "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind."

Armstrong was joined later by Air Force Colonel Edwin E. "Buzz" Aldrin Jr. Together, with a camera rolling and the world watching, they placed a plaque which read, "Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the moon July, 1969, A.D. We came in peace for all mankind." The men then planted an American flag made of metal on the lunar surface, stepped back, and saluted.

The entire flight from Cape Kennedy, Florida in the command ship Columbia and it's attached lunar module Eagle took three days. (The two individual space modules were collectively named Apollo 11.) Upon establishing orbit, Armstrong and Aldrin donned white pressurized suits and, leaving the third member of the party, Lt. Colonel Michael Collins, on the Columbia began their descent. The descent to the moon was originally going to be automated, however due to mechanical problems and the fact that they were headed toward a rocky landing site, Armstrong gained manual control and directed the module to a safe landing site in the Sea of Tranquility. Upon touchdown he radioed, "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed." A nervious world breathed a sigh of relief.

After completing more than 21 1/2 hours on the moon, the historic craft left the moon, redocked with the Columbia, and came home, splashing down in the Pacific Ocean at 12:50 eastern daylight time on July 24.

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