“That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.” Yes, on 20 July 2019 we will celebrate the Apollo 11 Moon Landing! Apollo 11 was the spaceflight that landed the first two humans on the Moon. Commander Neil Armstrong and lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin, both American, landed the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle on 20 July 1969, at 20:17 UTC. Armstrong became the first person to step onto the lunar surface six hours later on 21 July at 02:56:15 UTC; Aldrin joined him 19 minutes later.
A Moon landing is the arrival of a spacecraft on the surface of the Moon. This includes both crewed and uncrewed (robotic) missions. The first human-made object to reach the surface of the Moon was the Soviet Union’s Luna 2 mission, on 13 September 1959. However, The United States’ Apollo 11 was the first crewed mission to land on the Moon, on 20 July 1969. There have been six crewed U.S. landings (between 1969 and 1972) and numerous uncrewed landings, with no soft landings happening from 22 August 1976 to 14 December 2013.
During Apollo 11 mission, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin spent about two and a quarter hours together outside the spacecraft, and collected 47.5 pounds (21.5 kg) of lunar material to bring back to Earth. Command module pilot Michael Collins flew the command module Columbia alone in lunar orbit while they were on the Moon’s surface. Armstrong and Aldrin spent 21.5 hours on the lunar surface at a site they named Tranquility Base before rejoining Columbia in lunar orbit.
Armstrong’s first step onto the lunar surface was broadcast on live TV to a worldwide audience. He described the event as “one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.” Apollo 11 effectively ended the Space Race, a competition that occurred in the 20th century between the Soviet Union (USSR) and the United States (US) as a part of the Cold War. The goal of the race was to achieve firsts in spaceflight capability, with origins in the ballistic missile-based nuclear arms race between the two nations that occurred following World War II. Apollo 11 also fulfilled a national goal proposed in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy: “before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”
To date, the United States is the only country to have successfully conducted crewed missions to the Moon, with the last departing the lunar surface in December 1972. All crewed and uncrewed soft landings had taken place on the near side of the Moon, until 3 January 2019 when the Chinese Chang’e 4 spacecraft made the first landing on the far side of the Moon.
For the 50 years celebration of Apollo 11 Moon Landing, the Kennedy Space Center at Merritt Island, Florida, will hold various events, such as daily admissions to its Visitor Complex, a Lunar Landing Add-on Enhancement event, as well as many kids’ activities in the Rocket Garden. If you are in Florida on 20 July 2019, make sure to visit the Kennedy Space Center!
If you could not go to the Kennedy Space Center, do not be disappointed yet! You could still celebrate the 50 years of Apollo 11 Moon Landing by visiting a Planetarium near you. You could also watch moon movies or television series, read books on moon, or play a game (or a boardgame! says Adora) on moon!
So what will you do to celebrate the 50 years of Apollo 11 Moon Landing? Tell us!