With the Cold War raging and U.S. relations strained on numerous fronts, people thought President John F. Kennedy was crazy when he said he wanted an American man on the moon by the end of the 1960s.Though Kennedy was obviously not alive to see his dream come to fruition, the entire world was watching as a team of American astronauts prepared to launch from the Florida coast and travel nearly 250,000 miles to the moon. Years of planning, intense training and gruelling simulations all culminated as three astronauts boarded the Apollo 11 ship in July 1969.
The U.S. National Archives has a film, called “The Eagle Has Landed,” that documents the process from launch to landing. With the 43rd anniversary of the moon landing quickly approaching, here’s a look back at America’s unprecedented journey.
Apollo 11: This was the ship that would make history. Apollo 11 was prepared for the first ever mission to the moon and the rocket would blast off on July 16, 1969.
Michael Collins: Collins, 38, was the command module pilot on the mission and his job was to remain on the part of the ship that would not be landing on the moon.
Buzz Aldrin: Aldrin, 39, was the lunar module pilot and was second in command of the Apollo. He would assist with landing the Eagle module onto the moon.
Neil Armstrong: Armstrong, 38, was the Apollo 11 commander, in charge of the entire mission. He would be the first man to ever step foot on the moon.
The Final Countdown: The three heroic astronauts are being lifted up to the Apollo, where they would embark on the journey they've taken years to train and prepare for.
Prepare For Lift-Off: As the countdown progressed, the Apollo got it's engine going and then shot into the sky, launching at 9:32 a.m. on July 16, 1969. It entered orbit just 12 minutes later.
In Orbit: The Apollo 11 has now left the earth's atmosphere and begin a trip to the moon that will last more than three days and span nearly 250,000 miles.
The Journey: On this lengthy adventure, the trio of astronauts communicate with the command centre in Houston and plan for the descent onto the moon.
Hygiene: Personal grooming is important, even in space. Is anti-gravity shaving easier than earth shaving?
Weightless: Though they've been training for it, being without gravity in space still probably had to take adjusting to.
The Split: With Collins staying behind in the command module, Aldrin and Armstrong break off from the module in the lunar module as they make their descent toward a new frontier. Collins would remain in the Columbia, while Aldrin and Armstrong would embark from the Eagle.
The Descent: The lunar module Eagle is approaching the surface of the moon and Armstrong and Aldrin are in constant contact with Houston. Everything is running smoothly and they have the green light to land.
The Eagle Has Landed: The lunar module makes its final approach and lands on the moon at 10:39 p.m. on July 20, 1969! After several hours of making sure the landing was stable and preparing for takeoff, a worldwide TV audience tuned in for the moment everyone was waiting for.
One Small Step For Man: Neil Armstrong steps off the lunar module and on to the moon, making his famous statement and ensuring he was on solid enough ground. An estimated one billion people were watching as Armstrong made history.
Moon Walk: With everything under control, Armstrong took a little stroll on the moon and even played a little bit of moon golf just for kicks.
Buzz Tapped: With Armstrong securely on the moon, now it's Aldrin's turn to step down off the module and become the second man to make history.
Stars And Stripes: The astronauts placed a message on the moon representing 73 nations, but only the American stars and stripes made in on to the moon. The lack of wind or rain ensured that the flag would be there forever.
Taking Care Of Business: NASA wanted the astronauts to conduct some experimental research before they packed up and headed back to earth, including setting up this contraption to determine exactly how far they were from the U.S.
The Return Home: Armstrong and Aldrin were safely back in the lunar module and were now taking off to meet back with Collins and take the dangerous trip through the earth's atmosphere. This is a stunning view of our world as they lifted off from the moon.
El Presidente: President Richard Nixon excitedly looks on as the trio of American heroes safely return through the atmosphere on July 23, 1969. It would be one of his proudest moments in office.
Safe Landing: The astronauts land safely into the Pacific Ocean on July 24, 1969, where they were rescued by a U.S. helicopter and sent off to Houston. This completed the eight day mission and forever ensured that Armstrong and Aldrin would forever be American icons.
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