“That’s one small step for man. One giant leap for mankind,” said Commander Neil Armstrong as he took his first steps on the Moon. A staggering 650 million people worldwide heard Armstrong’s words through their televisions as they watched him make history on July 21-1969.
Before his iconic words were spoken, Armstrong had some trouble exiting the lunar module called Eagle. When he made it out, he took a moment to observe the desolate landscape of the lunar region known as the Sea of Tranquility. He remarked that the Moon’s dust was very fine and somewhat powdery before moving forward to make the first-ever boot print in it.
Apollo 11’s pilot Buzz Aldrin emerged from Eagle almost 20 minutes after Armstrong and became the second person to ever set foot on our Moon. The two astronauts performed a number of scientific experiments on the lunar surface. These experiments proved vital in expanding humanity’s knowledge of the Moon.
Apollo 11 was a mission of many firsts. It was the first manned mission to another planetary body, broadcasted the first extravehicular activity and collected the first geological samples from the Moon. Apollo 11 also hosted the first Earth to Moon telephone conversation between Armstrong and U.S. President Richard Nixon, who said it was “the most historic phone call ever made from the White House.”
President Nixon was concerned about the Apollo 11 mission failing. He didn’t relish the idea of having to announce an expensive failure resulting in the death of two astronauts to the American public. Nixon had valid reasons to be concerned because, before its successful landing, Apollo 11 experienced an array of different problems.
Intermittent radio connectivity between Apollo 11 and Earth and the last-minute realization that the Eagle module was burning more fuel than initially intended causing it to overshoot its planned landing site were just two of many issues.
Ultimately the astronauts’ quick thinking, skill, and determination would save the day and result in one of the most significant and awe-inspiring scientific achievements of all time.