On July 20,1969, astronaut Neil Armstrong did something no one had ever done before. He set foot on the Moon. People watched and listened as he slowly climbed down the ladder of the lunar lander. Then, he stepped on the Moonís surface where he could look up and see Earth far above him. There he said these well known words, "Thatís one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."
The Soviet Union and the United States were in a race to the Moon. The Russians wanted to orbit the moon for the 50th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, but they failed. The U.S. sent up Apollo 8, and it orbited the moon. So the United States won that round. Next both countries were in a race to see who could land on the Moon first. Apollo 11 helped the United States win the Moon race 2 to 0.
Soyoz and Apollo
The United States and the Soviet Union were testing their spacecrafts for the lunar missions. Soyoz was the spacecraft the Soviets were testing. The cosmonauts had two main objectives, to orbit the moon in a figure 8 shape and to complete the first lunar landing. The Soyoz is still used, but as a lifeboat for the International Space Station.
The United States was testing the Apollo spacecraft. It is the spacecraft command center that can hold 3 people. The command module is connected to a cylinder service module. The cylinder module has life support and electrical power. The other module is the lunar module, the transport vehicle that goes on the Moon.
At The Moon
On the Moon they collected rocks and soil. They also took tons of pictures. Special tools were used to send information the astronauts gathered back to Earth. When they were on the Moon they measured the temperature, gravity, and distance from Earth to the Moon. A TV camera on the lunar lander sent blurry pictures of the astronauts. The footprints left by the astronauts in the Sea of Tranquility are more permanent that many solid structures on Earth. These impressions in the lunar lander will probably last for millions of years since there is no wind or weather on the Moon. While on the Moon the astronauts planted a United States flag and left a sign that read:
Back to Earth
The Apollo 11 mission was completed at 12:50 p.m. on July 24, 1969. The Columbia splashed down about 812 miles southwest of Hawaii, returning the 3 astronauts safely to Earth. NASA immediately unloaded the lunar materials, astronauts, and all equipment. The astronauts spent a total of 21 Ĺ hours on the Moon. They returned with 48 pounds of rock and soil. The equipment that was taken to the Moon was put aside to see if any germs or any harmful things had been brought back from the Moon. Nothing was found.
In 1967 bad things happened to both the Soviet Union and the United States space organizations. In January the crew of a test flight for an Apollo mission caught on fire.
In April Soyoz 1 was launched. Inside was a cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov. After a day in space Vladimir was forced to return to Earth because he could not position his ship correctly. When he was trying to land his parachute would not unfold. He crashed into the ground and died.
Unless otherwise noted, all images courtesy of NASA. Permission for use at http://www.nasa.gov/gallery/photo/guideline.html.
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