On this day in 1969, 48 years ago, Apollo 11 successfully landed on the moon. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin spent about 21.5 hours on the lunar surface, and were outside the lander for only about 2-1/4 hours outside while Michael Collins piloted the command module Columbia alone in lunar orbit while they were on the Moon’s surface. They collected 47.5 pounds (21.5 kg) of lunar surface material to bring home.
Meanwhile, the vast majority of people with access to a television watched. Their mission decisively ended the Space Race, and fulfilled the national goal proposed in 1961 by U.S. President John F. Kennedy: “Before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”
Their safe return was far from sure.
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