Humans take first steps on the moon

By Claudine Zap

Before there was the unmanned Mars rover Curiosity, there was the Apollo 11. Crew from that space flight included astronauts Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins, command module pilot. On July 20, 1969, Aldrin and Armstrong became the first humans to step on the moon’s surface, marking "One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind," as Armstrong said. Take a look at the historic mission, from training to ticker tape, selected from NASA’s archives.

Apollo 11 Mission - 44th anniversary

Neil Armstrong trained for the historic Apollo 11 mission at the Lunar Landing Research Facility. This picture was taken in February 1969 -- just five months before Armstrong would become the first person to set foot on the surface of the moon. (NASA)

Apollo 11 Mission - 44th anniversary

The prime crew of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission relaxes on the deck of the NASA Motor Vessel Retriever prior to participating in water egress training in the Gulf of Mexico. Left to right, are astronauts Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot; Neil A. Armstrong, commander; and Michael Collins, command module pilot. In the background is Apollo Boilerplate 1102 which was used in the training exercise. (NASA)

Apollo 11 Mission - 44th anniversary

The third member of the prime crew of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission egresses Apollo Boilerplate 1102 during water egress training in the Gulf of Mexico. The other two crewmen are in raft. Taking part in the training were astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, commander; Michael Collins, command module pilot; and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot. The three crewmen practiced donning and wearing biological isolation garments (B.I.G.) as a part of the exercise. The Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC) swimmer standing up, who assisted in the training, is also wearing a B.I.G. (NASA)

Apollo 11 Mission - 44th anniversary

Astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, wearing an Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU), participates in a simulation of deploying and using lunar tools, on the surface of the moon, during a training exercise in Building 9 on April 22, 1969. Armstrong is the commander of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission. He is using a scoop to place the sample into bag. On the right is a Lunar Module (LM) mock-up. (NASA)

Apollo 11 Mission - 44th anniversary

Two members of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission participate in a simulation of deploying and using lunar tools, on the surface of the moon, during a training exercise in Building 9 on April 22, 1969. Astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin Jr. (on left), lunar module pilot, uses a scoop to pick up a sample. Astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, Apollo 11 commander, holds bag to receive sample. In the background is a Lunar Module (LM) mock-up. Both crewmembers are wearing Extravehicular Mobility Units (EMU). (NASA)

Apollo 11 Mission - 44th anniversary

Astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, wearing an Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU), deploys a lunar surface television camera during lunar surface simulation training in Building 9, Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC). Armstrong is the prime crew commander of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission. (NASA)

Apollo 11 Mission - 44th anniversary

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has named these three astronauts as the prime crew of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission. Left to right, are Neil A. Armstrong, commander; Michael Collins, command module pilot; and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot. (NASA)

Apollo 11 Mission - 44th anniversary

The Apollo 11 crew leaves Kennedy Space Center's Manned Spacecraft Operations Building during the pre-launch countdown. Mission commander Neil Armstrong, command module pilot Michael Collins, and lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin prepare to ride the special transport van to Launch Complex 39A where their spacecraft awaited them. Liftoff occurred 38 years ago today at 9:32 a.m. EDT, July 16, 1969.(NASA)

Apollo 11 Mission - 44th anniversary

The crew of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission arrives atop Pad A, Launch Complex 39, Kennedy Space Center, during the Apollo 11 prelaunch countdown. Leading is astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, commander. He was followed by astronauts Michael Collins, command module pilot. Technician follows directly behind Armstrong and Collins.(NASA)

Apollo 11 Mission - 44th anniversary

The huge, 363-feet tall Apollo 11 (Spacecraft 107/Lunar Module 5/Saturn 506) space vehicle is launched from Pad A, Launch Complex 39, Kennedy Space Center (KSC), at 9:32 a.m. (EDT), July 16, 1969. Onboard the Apollo 11 spacecraft were astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, commander; Michael Collins, command module pilot; and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot. Apollo 11 is the United States first lunar landing mission. While astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin descend in the Lunar Module (LM) "Eagle" to explore the Sea of Tranquility region of the moon, astronaut Collins will remain with the Command and Service Modules (CSM) "Columbia" in lunar orbit.(NASA)

Apollo 11 Mission - 44th anniversary

The huge, 363-feet tall Apollo 11 (Spacecraft 107/Lunar Module 5/Saturn 506) space vehicle is launched from Pad A, Launch Complex 39, Kennedy Space Center (KSC), at 9:32 a.m. (EDT), July 16, 1969. Aboard the Apollo 11 spacecraft were astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, commander; Michael Collins, command module pilot; and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot. Apollo 11 is the United States' first lunar landing mission. This view of the liftoff was taken by a camera mounted on the mobile launch tower. While astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin descend in the Lunar Module (LM) "Eagle" to explore the Sea of Tranquility region of the moon, astronaut Collins will remain with the Command and Service Modules (CSM) "Columbia" in lunar orbit. (NASA)

Apollo 11 Mission - 44th anniversary

The Apollo 11 Saturn V space vehicle lifted off with Astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin E. "Buzz" Aldrin Jr. at 9:32 a.m. EDT July 16, 1969, from Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39A.
During the eight-day mission, Armstrong and Aldrin descended to the moon's surface in a lunar module while Collins orbited overhead in the command module.(NASA)

Apollo 11 Mission - 44th anniversary

The huge, 363-feet tall Apollo 11 (Spacecraft 107/Lunar Module 5/Saturn 506) space vehicle is launched from Pad A, Launch Complex 39 Kennedy Space Center (KSC), at 9:32 a.m. (EDT), July 16, 1969. Onboard the Apollo 11 spacecraft were astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, commander; Michael Collins, command module pilot; and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot. Apollo 11 is the United States first lunar landing mission. Astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin will descend in the Lunar Module (LM) "Eagle" to explore the Sea of Tranquility region of the moon, while astronaut Collins remains with the Command and Service Modules (CSM) "Columbia" in lunar orbit.(NASA)

Apollo 11 Mission - 44th anniversary

Adjacent to the Kennedy Space Center thousands of spectators camped out on beaches and roads to watch the launch of Apollo 11, which launched at 9:32 a.m. Eastern on July 16, 1969. The launch of Apollo 11 was the culmination of 8 years of hard work by thousands of scientists and technicians. Four days later, Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong stepped out of the lunar module and took "one small step" in the Sea of Tranquility, calling it "a giant leap for mankind."(NASA)

Apollo 11 Mission - 44th anniversary

The launch of Apollo 11, which launched at 9:32 a.m. Eastern on July 16, 1969. The launch of Apollo 11 was the culmination of 8 years of hard work by thousands of scientists and technicians. Four days later, Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong stepped out of the lunar module and took "one small step" in the Sea of Tranquility, calling it "a giant leap for mankind."(NASA)

Apollo 11 Mission - 44th anniversary

The American flag heralded the launch of Apollo 11, the first Lunar landing mission, on July 16, 1969. The massive Saturn V rocket lifted off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center with astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin at 9:32 a.m. EDT. Four days later, on July 20, Armstrong and Aldrin landed on the Moon's surface while Collins orbited overhead in the Command Module. Armstrong and Aldrin gathered samples of lunar material and deployed scientific experiments that transmitted data about the lunar environment.(NASA)

Apollo 11 Mission - 44th anniversary

This interior view of the Apollo 11 Lunar Module (LM) shows astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot, during the lunar landing mission. This picture was taken by astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, commander. While astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin descended in the LM "Eagle" to explore the Sea of Tranquility region of the moon, astronaut Michael Collins, command module pilot, remained with the Command and Service Modules (CSM) "Columbia" in lunar orbit. (NASA)

Apollo 11 Mission - 44th anniversary

A view of the Apollo Command Module with astronaut Michael Collins aboard as seen from the Lunar Module, July 20, 1969. Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin in the Lunar Module have separated from Apollo 11 and prepare to go to the lunar surface. Moon terrain in background is the far side of the moon. (NASA)

Apollo 11 Mission - 44th anniversary

The Apollo 11 Lunar Module (LM), in a lunar landing configuration, is photographed in lunar orbit from the Command and Service Modules (CSM). Inside the LM were astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, commander, and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot. Astronaut Michael Collins, command module pilot, remained with the CSM in lunar orbit while Armstrong and Aldrin descended in the LM to explore the lunar surface. The protrusions connected to the landing pods are sensors to aid in the touchdown or landing process.(NASA)

Apollo 11 Mission - 44th anniversary

This view from the Apollo 11 spacecraft shows Earth rising above the moon's horizon. The lunar terrain pictured is in the area of Smyth's Sea on the nearside. Coordinates of the center of the terrain are 86 degrees east longitude and 3 degrees north latitude. While astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, commander, and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot, descended in the Lunar Module (LM) "Eagle" to explore the Sea of Tranquility region of the moon, astronaut Michael Collins, command module pilot, remained with the Command and Service Modules (CSM) "Columbia" in lunar orbit.(NASA) 8BIM%

Apollo 11 Mission - 44th anniversary

An oblique of the Crater Daedalus on the lunar farside as seen from the Apollo 11 spacecraft in lunar orbit. The view looks southwest. Daedalus (formerly referred to as I.A.U. Crater No. 308) is located at 179 degrees east longitude and 5.5 degrees south latitude. Daedalus has a diameter of about 50 statute miles. This is a typical scene showing the rugged terrain on the farside of the moon. While astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, commander, and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot, descended in the Lunar Module (LM) "Eagle" to explore the Sea of Tranquility region of the moon, astronaut Michael Collins, command module pilot, remained with the Command and Service Modules (CSM) "Columbia" in lunar orbit.(NASA)

Apollo 11 Mission - 44th anniversary

This photograph of astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, Apollo 11 commander, was taken inside the Lunar Module (LM) while the LM rested on the lunar surface. Astronauts Armstrong and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot, had already completed their historic extravehicular activity (EVA) when this picture was made. Astronaut Michael Collins, command module pilot, remained with the Command and Service Modules (CSM) in lunar orbit while Armstrong and Aldrin explored the moon's surface. (NASA)

Apollo 11 Mission - 44th anniversary

The Apollo 11 Lunar Module (LM), in a lunar landing configuration, is photographed in lunar orbit from the Command and Service Modules (CSM). Inside the LM were astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, commander, and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot. Astronaut Michael Collins, command module pilot, remained with the CSM in lunar orbit while Armstrong and Aldrin descended in the LM to explore the lunar surface. (NASA)

Apollo 11 Mission - 44th anniversary

Astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot, descends the steps of the Lunar Module (LM) ladder as he prepares to walk on the moon. He had just egressed the LM. This photograph was taken by astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, commander, with a 70mm lunar surface camera during the Apollo 11 extravehicular activity (EVA). While Armstrong and Aldrin descended in the LM "Eagle" to explore the moon, astronaut Michael Collins, command module pilot, remained with the Command and Service Modules (CSM) in lunar orbit. (NASA)

Apollo 11 Mission - 44th anniversary

A close-up view of an astronaut's boot and bootprint in the lunar soil, photographed with a 70mm lunar surface camera during the Apollo 11 lunar surface extravehicular activity (EVA). While astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, commander, and Edwin A. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot, descended in the Lunar Module (LM) "Eagle" to explore the Sea of Tranquility region of the moon, astronaut Michael Collins, command module pilot, remained with the Command and Service Modules (CSM)" Columbia" in lunar orbit. (NASA)

Apollo 11 Mission - 44th anniversary

On July 20, 1969, more than a billion people watched Neil Armstrong take humankind's first step on another world. The Apollo 11 mission fulfilled President John F. Kennedy's goal of reaching the moon by the end of the decade.(NASA)

Apollo 11 Mission - 44th anniversary

The deployment of the flag of the United States on the surface of the moon is captured on film during the first Apollo 11 lunar landing mission. Here, astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, commander, stands on the left at the flag's staff. Astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot, is also pictured. The picture was taken from film exposed by the 16mm Data Acquisition Camera (DAC) which was mounted in the Lunar Module (LM). While astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin descended in the Lunar Module (LM) "Eagle" to explore the Sea of Tranquility region of the moon, astronaut Michael Collins, command module pilot, remained with the Command and Service Modules (CSM) "Columbia" in lunar orbit. (NASA)

Apollo 11 Mission - 44th anniversary

Astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot of the first lunar landing mission, poses for a photograph beside the deployed United States flag during Apollo 11 extravehicular activity (EVA) on the lunar surface. The Lunar Module (LM) is on the left, and the footprints of the astronauts are clearly visible in the soil of the moon. Astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, commander, took this picture with a 70mm Hasselblad lunar surface camera. While astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin descended in the LM the "Eagle" to explore the Sea of Tranquility region of the moon, astronaut Michael Collins, command module pilot, remained with the Command and Service Modules (CSM) "Columbia" in lunar orbit. (NASA)

Apollo 11 Mission - 44th anniversary

Astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, Apollo 11 mission commander, at the modular equipment storage assembly (MESA) of the Lunar Module "Eagle" on the historic first extravehicular activity (EVA) on the lunar surface. Astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin Jr. took the photograph with a Hasselblad 70mm camera. (NASA)

Apollo 11 Mission - 44th anniversary

Astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot, walks on the surface of the moon near a leg of the Lunar Module during the Apollo 11 extravehicular activity (EVA). Astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, Apollo 11 commander, took this photograph with a 70mm lunar surface camera. The astronauts' bootprints are clearly visible in the foreground. While astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin descended in the Lunar Module (LM) "Eagle" to explore the Sea of Tranquility region of the moon, astronaut Michael Collins, command module pilot, remained with the Command and Service Modules (CSM) "Columbia" in lunar orbit. (NASA)

Apollo 11 Mission - 44th anniversary

Astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot, walks on the surface of the moon near the leg of the Lunar Module (LM) "Eagle" during the Apollo 11 extravehicular activity (EVA). Astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, commander, took this photograph with a 70mm lunar surface camera. While astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin descended in the Lunar Module (LM) "Eagle" to explore the Sea of Tranquility region of the moon, astronaut Michael Collins, command module pilot, remained with the Command and Service Modules (CSM) "Columbia" in lunar orbit. (NASA)

Apollo 11 Mission - 44th anniversary

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin deployed the Early Apollo Scientific Experiments Package (EASEP). In the far right background is the Lunar Module On July 20, 1969, the America's Apollo 11 landed on the moon, making history as the first humans set foot on another world.(NASA)

Apollo 11 Mission - 44th anniversary

Astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot, is photographed during the Apollo 11 extravehicular activity (EVA) on the lunar surface. In the right background is the lunar module. On Aldrin's right is the Solar Wind Composition (SWC) experiment, already deployed. This photograph was taken by astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, commander, with a 70mm lunar surface camera. (NASA)

Apollo 11 Mission - 44th anniversary

Astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot, prepares to deploy the Early Apollo Scientific Experiments Package (EASEP) during the Apollo 11 lunar surface extravehicular activity (EVA). Astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, commander, took this picture with a 70mm lunar surface camera. During flight the EASEP is stowed in the Lunar Module's (LM) scientific equipment bay at the left year quadrant of the descent stage looking forward. Aldrin is removing the EASEP from its stowed position.(NASA)

Apollo 11 Mission - 44th anniversary

The Apollo 11 Lunar Module ascent stage, with astronauts Neil A. Armstrong and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr. aboard, is photographed from the Command and Service Modules (CSM) during rendezvous in lunar orbit. The Lunar Module (LM) was making its docking approach to the CSM. Astronaut Michael Collins remained with the CSM in lunar orbit while the other two crewmen explored the lunar surface. The large, dark-colored area in the background is Smyth's Sea, centered at 85 degrees east longitude and 2 degrees south latitude on the lunar surface (nearside). This view looks west. The Earth rises above the lunar horizon. (NASA)

Apollo 11 Mission - 44th anniversary

The Apollo 11 crew await pickup by a helicopter from the USS Hornet, prime recovery ship for the historic lunar landing mission. The fourth man in the life raft is a United States Navy underwater demolition team swimmer. All four men are wearing biological isolation garments. The Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia with astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin aboard splashed down at 11:49 a.m. CDT, July 24, 1969, about 812 nautical miles southwest of Hawaii and only 12 nautical miles from the USS Hornet.(NASA)

Apollo 11 Mission - 44th anniversary

Overall view of the Mission Operations Control Room (MOCR) in the Mission Control Center (MCC), Building 30, Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC), showing the flight controllers celebrating the successful conclusion of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission. (NASA)

Apollo 11 Mission - 44th anniversary

Overall view of the Mission Operations Control Room (MOCR) in the Mission Control Center (MCC), Building 30, Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC), showing the flight controllers celebrating the successful conclusion of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission.(NASA)

Apollo 11 Mission - 44th anniversary

Overall view of the Mission Operations Control Room (MOCR) in the Mission Control Center (MCC), Building 30, Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC), showing the flight controllers celebrating the successful conclusion of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission. (NASA)

Apollo 11 Mission - 44th anniversary

NASA and Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC) officials join in with the flight controllers, in the Mission Operations Control Room (MOCR) in the Mission Control Center (MCC), in celebrating the successful conclusion of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission. Identifiable in the picture, starting in foreground, are Dr. Robert R. Gilruth, MSC Director; George M. Low, Manager, Apollo Spacecraft Program, MSC; Dr. Christopher C. Kraft Jr., MSC Director of Flight Operation; U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Samuel C. Phillips (with glasses, looking downward), Apollo Program Director, Office of Manned Space Flight, NASA Headquarters; and Dr. George E. Mueller (with glasses, looking toward left), Associate Administrator, Office of Manned Space Flight, NASA Headquarters. Former astronaut John H. Glenn Jr. is standing behind Mr. Low. (NASA)