"A scientific colleague tells me about a recent trip to the New Guinea highlands where she visited a stone age culture hardly contacted by Western civilization. They were ignorant of wristwatches, soft drinks, and frozen food. But they knew about Apollo 11. They knew that humans had walked on the moon. They knew the names of Armstrong and Aldrin and Collins. They wanted to know who was visiting the moon these days." - Carl Sagan
After traveling four days and more than 238,900 miles, the Lunar Module Eagle began its descent to the surface of the Moon. Very early on, however, it became clear to Aldrin and Armstrong that their telemetry was incorrect as they recognized lunar landmarks were being passed too early. At approximately 6,000 miles above the surface, numerous guidance computer program alarms distracted the crew as they communicated with flight controllers. Mission Control engineers soon reassured the Eagle to continue with the descent as it was determined that their system was being overloaded with extra tasks not necessary to land on the Moon. After looking out of the window a few moments later, Armstrong was forced to take semi-manual control as he noticed that the navigational systems were guiding them towards an area comprised of boulders and an uneven landing surface. This manual override would require Aldrin to call out velocity and altitude data before landing fuel ran out. After a somewhat frantic period, the Lunar Module safely landed on the moon on July 20th, 1969 — with about 25 seconds of fuel remaining.
As an estimated 600 million people watched, Neil Armstrong became the first ambassador of the planet Earth to walk on another world. For over 2.5 hours, he and Buzz Aldrin captured the imagination of our species as they performed various scientific and geological experiments. Along with planting an American flag, a commemorative plaque marking this monumental human achievement was mounted to the Apollo 11 Lunar Module — and remains as a relic of humanity’s first journey on the Moon.
“We came in peace for all mankind. That statement really to me was a very symbolic one — not just of our mission, but of the entire Apollo effort.” - Buzz Aldrin, Apollo 11 Lunar Module Pilot
Apollo 11 was arguably our most exciting adventure, and over the span of three years, NASA sent a total of 12 astronauts to explore the Moon. However, not since 1972 have human beings been beyond low-Earth orbit. Please watch our video, The Spirit of Apollo, and consider what raising the NASA budget will once again do for our society.