Tuesday Trivia: 50 years ago today, Apollo 11 blasted off for the moon

J. H. Osborne • Jul 16, 2019 at 1:23 PM

This week in Tuesday Trivia: the 50th anniversary of man's first walk on the moon.

• Fifty years ago today at 9:32 a.m. EDT, Apollo 11 was launched from Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39A. Destination: the moon.

• The command and service module portion of the spacecraft was named "Columbia," and the lunar module — which would detach and carry two astronauts to the moon's surface and back to the Columbia — was named "Eagle."

• The crew members of Apollo 11 were: Neil Armstrong, commander; Michael Collins, command module pilot; and Edwin Aldrin, lunar module pilot.

• Armstrong and Aldrin landed on the moon. Collins continued Columbia's orbit of the moon.

• At 4:17 p.m. EDT on July 20, 1969, Armstrong radioed Earth from the surface of the moon: "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed."

• Their exact landing spot: Mare Tranquillitatis (Sea of Tranquility), 0.67 N, 23.47 E.

• At 10:56 p.m. EDT, Armstrong exited Eagle and planted the first human foot on another world. With more than half a billion people watching on television, he climbed down the ladder and said "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

• Aldrin joined him shortly and offered a simple but powerful description of the lunar surface: "magnificent desolation." They explored the surface for two hours and 31 minutes, collecting samples (including 21.7 kilograms of moon rocks) and taking photographs.

• In all, including time inside the Eagle lunar module, the duo spent 21 hours, 38 minutes, and 21 seconds on the lunar surface, departing at 12:50 p.m. on July 21, 1969.

• They left behind an American flag, a patch honoring the fallen Apollo 1 crew and a plaque on one of Eagle's legs. It reads, "Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the moon. July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind."

• The crew splashed down off Hawaii on July 24. President John F. Kennedy's challenge that America send a manned expedition to the moon and back before the end of the decade had been met.

• In all, the Apollo 11 mission lasted 195 hours, 18 minutes, and 35 seconds.

• The prime mission objective of Apollo 11 is stated simply: "Perform a manned lunar landing and return."

• Over the next three and a half years, 10 astronauts would follow in their footsteps. Gene Cernan, commander of the last Apollo mission, leaves the lunar surface with these words: "We leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return, with peace, and hope for all mankind."

Sources: NASA; The Smithsonian Institution

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