The Iconic Images of Apollo 11 as they Happened in the Summer of 1969

The Apollo 11 crew relaxes during training.
May 24, 1969
Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, Buzz Aldrin
Time Life Photo 1969
Not published in LIFE. The Apollo 11 astronauts and their families pose with a scale model of the moon, spring 1969.
Moon Anniversary
In this July 5, 1969 file photo, astronaut Neil Armstrong, left, the first man scheduled to walk on the moon, displays a plaque that will be attached to a landing leg of the lunar module descent stage and will be left on the moon by the Apollo 11 astronauts as Buzz Aldrin, center, holds the Apollo 11 insignia at a news conference at the Space Center. Command Module pilot Lt. Col. Michael Collins is at right.
Armstrong (mid left) ate with Michael Collins (front left), Aldrin (back right), Donald Slayton (right front) and William Anders (back left). They had orange juice, steak, scrambled eggs, toast and coffee on July 16, 1969.
Neil Armstrong
July 16, 1969 photo, Neil Armstrong waving in front, heads for the van that will take the crew to the rocket for launch to the moon at Kennedy Space Center in Merritt Island, Fl.
Apollo 11
Thousands of newsmen and photographers line the banks of a lagoon at the Cape Kennedy Press Site on July 16, 1969 as the Saturn 5 Rocket with Apollo 11 astronauts aboard thunders from its launch pad three and a half miles away.
34th Anniversary Of Apollo 11 Landing On The Moon
Vice President Spiro Agnew And Former President Lyndon Johnson view the liftoff of Apollo 11 from the stands located at the Kennedy Space Center VIP viewing site.
Liftoff of Apollo 11
July 16, 1969
Apollo 11 liftoff from launch tower camera
Moonbound Apollo 11 clears the launch tower.
Apollo 11
Apollo 11 is LUNAR BOUND!
Apollo 11
Flight path graphic of the Apollo 11 mission
Earthrise viewed from lunar orbit prior to landing.
Apollo 11 LM Interior
This July 20, 1969 photograph of the interior view of the Apollo 11 Lunar Module shows astronaut Buzz Aldrin during the lunar landing mission. The picture was taken by astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, commander, prior to the landing.
Crater 308 viewed from orbit.
Flight controllers watch and wait during lunar module descent.
An estimated 10,000 persons gather to watch giant television screens in New York’s Central Park and cheer as astronaut Neil Armstrong takes humankind’s first step on the moon on July 20, 1969.
The view from the LM window just after landing.
July 20, 1969
Armstrong descending Eagle’s ladder to the lunar surface as witnessed by hundreds of millions of people around the world.

“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Back on Earth, Neil Armstrong insisted that they had left out an “a”. That what he meant to have said, was “That’s one small step for A man, one giant leap for mankind. ” Remember he had been awake for 24 hours before his epoch-marking pronouncement, was potentially battling lunar stage fright in front of the world’s largest audience ever, and apparently was mulling over the fact that while putting on his bulky space suit whether or not he had broken the circuit breaker for the switch to start the Eagle’s engine for ascent.

“There must be an ‘a’, ” Mr. Armstrong says of the event in the 1986 book Chariots for Apollo. “I rehearsed it that way. I meant it that way. And I’m sure I said it that way.”

A Grumman representative, Tommy Attridge, put on a commemorative 45-rpm recording of the flight and played it for the first man on the moon. No matter what speed they played it at, there was no “a”.

According to the authors, Mr. Armstrong sighed, “Damn, I really did it. I blew the first words on the moon, didn’t I?”

Armstrong on Lunar Surface (1)
Neil Armstrong stands alone on the surface of the moon.
Buzz Aldrin making his descent down the ladder of the LM.
Buzz Aldrin making his descent down the ladder of the LM.
Buzz Aldrin taking the last step on the rung of the LM before stepping onto the lunar surface.


Neil and Buzz reading the plaque commemorating humanity’s first landing on the moon “…We came in peace for all mankind.”
5899 (1)
The stainless steel plaque attached to the ladder on the landing gear strut on the descent stage of the LM.
Buzz Aldrin testing mobility techniques on the lunar surface.
Buzz Aldrin saluting American Flag.


Armstrong: That would be an honor.

McCandless: Go ahead Mr. President. This is Houston out.

Nixon: Hello, Neil and Buzz. I’m talking to you by telephone from the Oval Room at the White House. And this certainly has to be the most historic telephone call ever made. I just can’t tell you how proud we all are of what you’ve done. 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 an immense feat this is. Because of what you have done, the heavens have become a part of man’s world. And 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: one in their pride in what you have done, and one in our prayers that you will return safely to Earth.

Armstrong: 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 curiosity, and men with a vision for the future. It’s an honor for us to be able to participate here today.

Nixon: And thank you very much and I look forward – all of us look forward – to seeing you on the Hornet on Thursday.

Armstrong: Thank you.

Aldrin: I look forward to that very much, sir.

Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong working at an equipment storage area on the lunar module. This is one of the few photos that show Armstrong during the moonwalk.
Aldrin’s boot and footprint in lunar soil.
Aldrin’s footprint on the moon, a living imprint for the ages.
Aldrin carries components of the Early Apollo Scientific Experiments Package (EASEP) to their deployment location.  The Passive Seismic Experiments Package (PSEP) is in his left hand and the Laser Ranging Retro-Reflector is in his right. One experiment involved the inner composition of the moon, and another tried to determine the exact distance from Earth. 
Armstrong photo of LM from a distance
Small crater near LM with rocky bottom
Aldrin poses for a portrait.  When asked what makes this such an iconic photograph, Buzz always says “Location, location, location.”

Aldrin retrieves a solar wind experiment.
Neil Armstrong in LM after historic moonwalk.
LM approaches CSM for docking with Earthrise in the background.
Mission Control celebrates after splashdown.
July 24, 1969
Mission Control celebrates Apollo 11.
July 24, 1969
Apollo 11 Splashdown, The Astronauts Are Headed to Quarantine.
The Apollo 11 astronauts, left to right, Commander Neil A. Armstrong, Command Module Pilot Michael Collins and Lunar Module Pilot Buzz Aldrin inside the Mobile Quarantine Facility aboard the USS Hornet, listen to President Richard M. Nixon on July 24, 1969 as he welcomes them back to Earth and congratulates them on the successful mission. The astronauts had splashed down in the Pacific Ocean at 12:50 p.m. EDT about 900 miles southwest of Hawaii.
Apollo 11 In Quarantine and Back on Earth
Honey I’m Home!


Apollo 11 astronauts, still in their quarantine van, are greeted by their wives upon arrival at Ellington Air Force Base
July 27, 1969
For the disbelievers, this Apollo 11 landing site picture was captured by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter in 2012.  It clearly shows the LM, the experiments left on the surface and the remnants of their first steps as dark regions around the LM and dark tracks leading to the scientific experiments and Armstrong’s 50 meter jaunt to the rim of West crater, largest crater in the photograph to the right of the LM.  Credits: NASA Goddard/Arizona State University.
Space Ex day holiday
May Space Exploration Day finally be a reality in 2019 as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo Lunar Landing.

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