Humanity accomplished a feat unlike any other 52 years ago. The first humans to set foot on the Moon were Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin. The Apollo 11 mission ushered in a new era of space competition between the United States and Soviet Russia, consolidating the United States' dominance in space ever since.
The astronauts on board, notably Command Module pilot Michael Collins, were lauded as American heroes who embodied President John F. Kennedy's vision for the decade, which he had laid out earlier in 1961.
Buzz Aldrin said on his Twitter account that the crew's adventure into the unknown began on July 16, 1969. They launched aboard a Saturn V rocket from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. In the lunar module, Aldrin and Armstrong landed on the Moon four days later.
NASA said per WTSP that the astronauts spent slightly over 21 hours exploring the lunar surface, conducting experiments, and even speaking with President Richard Nixon on the phone.
With the 52nd anniversary of #Apollo11 coming up, I look back and reflect on our last news conference before launching to the Moon – those are the faces of true wonder and pure excitement! pic.twitter.com/AJ1k2oEWgy— Dr. Buzz Aldrin (@TheRealBuzz) July 14, 2021
NASA claims commemorative medallions with the names of the three Apollo 1 astronauts who died in a launchpad fire and two cosmonauts who perished in accidents were set behind outside of the famous American flag that was planted on the Moon's surface.
A silicon disk holding "goodwill messages" from 73 countries, among other things, is also found on the Moon's surface, according to the space agency.
What Astronauts Saw Onboard For The First Time
The crew maintained in touch with NASA's mission control in Texas, informing them of their whereabouts and condition.
NASA recorded, saved, and digitized all of the conversations for subsequent examination, with extracts from the Apollo 11 tapes providing a richness of wonder and amazement.
Aldrin describes what he can see from the Command Module ship in one recording.
In Aldrin's sight, the Earth was fast shrinking, with continents only millimeters apart from each other.
A "shadow" hovering near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border attracted his attention as he looked out over Africa, Europe, and the Middle East.
"Houston, Apollo 11. We've got the continent of Africa right facing toward us right now, and of course, everything's getting smaller and smaller as time goes on," Aldrin reported per Express.co.uk.
He also stated that the Mediterranean is entirely clear and that the sun appears to be setting about Madagascar.
The equatorial belt of Africa, according to Aldrin, pops out pretty well.
"We're seeing a dark green or a muddy coloured green, compared to the sandier colours of the southern tip of Africa and, of course, the Sahara northern coast of Africa," Aldrin added in the same Express.co.uk report.
He also mentioned a strange fog that appears near the Afghan-Pakistan border.
The shadow projected by the normal cloud, according to Aldrin, was nearly the size of the Persian Gulf.
Since Houston was clear that morning, Bruce McCandless, an astronaut interacting with Apollo 11, said the team made note of the extent of the Persian Gulf and delivered a fairly restricted observation.
The cloud, Aldrin concluded, was a "single-cell" thunderstorm building up to 50,000 feet in the sky.
The eastern Mediterranean, he claimed, is incredibly clear, and they can see all of the lakes, including the Dead Sea.
Shortly after the exchange, the mission arrived on the Moon when the three astronauts prepared for their lunar descent.
Astronauts Rewarded Upon Arrival
The astronauts touched down on July 20, but it would be another six hours before they could leave their Eagle Lunar Module on July 21.
They stayed on the Moon's surface for more than 21 hours.
While Armstrong and Aldrin are the most well-known Apollo 11 astronauts, Collins was an important part of the mission's accomplishment.
Collins, dubbed the "forgotten astronaut," orbited the Moon to ensure that the two could dock with the Columbia command module. It's a step that everyone on the crew needed to take in order to safely return to Earth.
President Richard Nixon presented the three pioneers with the Presidential Medal of Freedom upon their return.
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