It’s July 16, 1969, and a Saturn V rocket from Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, Florida, launches Apollo 11 into space — becoming the fifth manned mission of NASA’s Apollo program.
Five days later, on July 21 at 02:56 UTC, (now late) American astronaut – Neil Armstrong – would become the first man to step on the lunar surface of the moon.
Broadcast live on television to a worldwide audience, National Geographic is this weekend celebrating the 44-year old achievement on behalf of humanity by highlighting the original article — “Man Walks on Another World” — it published on Apollo 11‘s landing, in December 1969.
“The talk was weighted with cryptic exchanges of scientific data, but still it rang with the stupendous drama of the greatest achievement in the history of exploration. For these were the voices of Apollo 11—voices carrying over nearly a quarter of a million miles to tell of man’s first steps on the moon. The world listened as Neil Armstrong, Edwin (Buzz) Aldrin, and Michael Collins spoke to each other and to CapCom, the capsule communicator in Houston. And as Eagle (the lunar module) separated from Columbia (the command module) and touched down in the dust of that desolate, windless world on July 20, at 4:17 and 43 seconds p.m. EDT—102 hours, 45 minutes, and 43 seconds after launch.”
From the original mission transcript:
PRESIDENT NIXON: “Hello, Neil and Buzz, I am talking to you by telephone from the Oval Room at the White House. And this certainly has to be the most historic telephone call ever made from the White House.”
“I just can’t tell you how proud we all are of what you have done. For every American, this has to be the proudest day of our lives, and for people all over the world I am sure they, too, join with Americans in recognizing what an immense feat this is.”
“Because of what you have done, the heavens have become part of man’s world. And as you talk to us from the Sea of Tranquillity, it inspires us to redouble our efforts to bring peace and tranquillity to earth.”
“For one priceless moment in the whole history of man, all the people on this earth are truly one. One in their pride in what you have done. And one in our prayers, that you will return safely to [E]arth.”
ARMSTRONG: “Thank you, Mr. President. It’s a great honor and privilege for us to be here representing not only the United States, but men of peace of all nations. And with interest and a curiosity and a vision for the future. It’s an honor for us to be able to participate here today.”