July 20, 1969. On this date, Apollo 11 astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong landed their moon module on a broad dark lunar lava flow, called the Sea of Tranquility. Six hours later, Neil Armstrong became the first human being to walk on the surface of a world beyond Earth.
Armstrong and Aldrin spent 21 1/2 hours on the moon’s surface. They collected 47.5 pounds (21.5 kg) of moon rocks for return to Earth. Then they blasted off in their module from the lunar surface to meet up with Michael Collins in the command module orbiting overhead.
They returned safely to Earth and landed in the Pacific Ocean on July 24, 1969.
In the video below, you can hear the excitement in Armstrong’s voice at the successful landing of Eagle on the moon’s surface as he says:
Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.
An early concern of space engineers had been that the lunar regolith, the fine soil covering the moon, would be soft like quicksand. There was some fear that the Eagle lunar module would sink after landing. Hence Armstrong’s comment about the depth of the footpads in the lunar soil as he descended the ladder before stepping onto the moon.
Experience the Apollo 11 landing site as it appears today, in this video:
Bottom line: This week is the 50th anniversary of humanity’s historic first steps on the moon. The story in pictures, here.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.
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