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, United States (USA) (American Colonies)
1969 - July 20 - Apollo 11 - Man lands on the moon

Taken There By Spacemen

SPACE CENTER, Houston (AP) - Two Americans, who strode the moon's surface for the first time and raised their nations' banner above it, held the world in suspense again today with a perilous blastoff for the long journey home.

A successful liftoff and rendezvous with their orbiting ship would climax and epic expedition in which Neil A. Armstrong and Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr. fulfilled a centuries-old dream of men everywhere.

There is only one liftoff engine on the landing craft they call Eagle. It must work, or the astronauts would be stranded with only 15 hours of oxygen left and no hope of rescue.

They are confident it will perform flawlessly as have millions of other parts of Apollo 11 hardware during the incredible journey that carried man's quest for the unknown to his first landing on another celestial body.

The launching from the moon was scheduled for 2:55 p.m. EDT.

A successful liftoff would shoot them into lunar orbit to chase down Michael Collins, orbiting some 65 miles overhead, in the Apollo 11 command ship.

Once linked up, they plan to fire themselves back toward earth early Tuesday, ending a space odyssey in which they etched their names beside those of history's greatest explorers, Columbus, Balboa, Magellan, da Gama and Byrd.

Through the magic of television, an estimated 500 million people around the world had a ringside seat to man's greatest adventure.

It was unforgettable.

Armstrong climbed through the LM hatch and started backing down a nine-rung ladder. On the second rung from the bottom, he opened a compartment, exposing a television camera.

The picture was black and white and somewhat jerky, but it recorded history.

Among scientists, there was elation that the crew had landed in an area with a variety of rocks, a treasure that held at least the hope of a rich payoff in the search to learn more about the moon and earth.

As Armstrong planted his size 9 1/ 2 left boot on the powdery surface at 10:56 p.m. Sunday, he spoke words that will be remembered for all time: "That's one small step for man, a giant leap for mankind."

The camera trained on Aldrin as he stepped on the far shore 20 minutes later and exclaimed: "Beautiful! Beautiful Magnificent desolation."

There were other memorable utterances during the day of high adventure.

There were Armstrong's - and man's - first words from the moon's surface after touchdown at 4:18 p.m.: "Houston... Tranquility base here. The Eagle has landed."

Or when Aldrin, a deeply religious man, relayed this message to the world shortly after the landing: "This is the LM pilot. I'd like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening, whoever, wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his or her own way."

They planted an American flag and saluted it, but made it plain they came to the moon as ambassadors for all mankind.

They unveiled a stainless steel plaque bearing these words:

"Here men from planet earth first set foot upon the moon, July, 1969, A.D. We came in peace for all mankind."

The left on the moon a disc on which messages from the leaders of 76 nations had been recorded. They will return to earth with them the flags of 136 nations, including Russia. And they left behind mementos for three Americans and two Russians who died for the cause of space exploration.

The theme was carried through when President Nixon placed an extraordinary radio call to Armstrong and Aldrin as they strolled the surface.

As they flanked the American flag, Nixon said, "I 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.

"For people all over the world I am sure that 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...

"For one priceless moment in the whole history of man," the President continued, "all of the people on this earth are truly one.

One in their pride in what you have done, one in our prayers that you will return safely to earth."

Although at times it appeared they were on a romp in the park, Armstrong and Aldrin carried out a true exploration of the moon.

Several times they tested their ability to move about in the one-sixth gravity field of the moon, loping like antelopes, and bouncing like kangaroos.

"It's not difficult at all moving about in one-sixth "G," commander Armstrong reported, as he flashed before the camera like a graceful gazelle.

The camera was mounted 40 or 50 feet away from the LM so that earthlings could watch their entire period outside - 2 hours, 15 minutes for Armstrong, and one hour, 44 minutes for Aldrin.

One of those who could not watch on television was Collins, flying the lonely vigil overhead, awaiting the return of his companions. He checked with mission control occasionally for a progress report on the surface activity, but he generally was a forgotten man to the world.

Armstrong and Aldrin gave vivid descriptions of their wild and wondrous world and collected two boxes of rock and soil samples which they will return to earth for analysis.

The moonmen also deployed two scientific instruments on the moon to relay data long after they left. They were a seismometer to measure moonquakes and other disturbances and a small mirror to reflect earth laser beams fired from California back to earth.

The seismometer, monitored on earth, picked up the footsteps of the astronauts and recorded a thump when they turned litterbug and dumped a bag of unneeded equipment overboard after returning to their landing vehicle.

"The surface appears to be very, very fine grained," Armstrong commented after his first steps. "It's almost like a powder. The dirt adheres in fine layers like powdered charcoal to the sole and insides of my boots. I only go in a fraction of an inch, maybe one-eighth of an inch. I see the footprints of my boots and the treads in the fine, sandy particles."

He panned the camera over thousands of small craters that pocked the surface and at the horizon accentuated against a pure black sky.

"It has starry beauty all its own," he said. "It's much like the high desert of the United States. But it's very pretty out here."

The Mexia Daily News
Mexia, Texas
July 21, 1969

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