45 Years Ago We Landed Men on the Moon

Tomorrow will mark the 45th anniversary of the July 16, 1969 launch of Apollo 11, the NASA mission that first landed human beings on the Moon. Years of effort, dangerous experiments, and bold missions led up to the Moon landing, an event watched on live television by millions around the world. Astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin "Buzz" E. Aldrin left the Earth on a Wednesday, landed on the Moon on that Sunday, spent a bit more than two hours walking on its surface, deploying experiments and collecting samples, then splashed down safely in the Pacific Ocean the following Thursday, after 8 days off-planet. Collected here are 45 images of that historic mission, a "giant leap for mankind," 45 years ago. [45 photos total]

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Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, lunar module pilot, walks on the surface of the Moon near the leg of the Lunar Module (LM) "Eagle" during the Apollo 11 extravehicular activity on July 20, 1969. Astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, commander, took this photograph with a 70mm lunar surface camera. While astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin explored the Sea of Tranquility region of the Moon and astronaut Michael Collins, command module pilot, remained with the Command and Service Modules (CSM) "Columbia" in lunar orbit. (NASA) #
The crew of Apollo 11, April 14, 1969. From left: Commander Neil A. Armstrong, Command Module Pilot Michael Collins, and Lunar Module Pilot Edwin "Buzz" E. Aldrin, Jr. (NASA) #
Aerial view of the Saturn V rocket rollout for the Apollo 11 mission on May 20, 1969. (NASA) #
The Apollo 11 crew and Donald K. "Deke" Slayton at the traditional launch day steak and eggs breakfast on July 16, 1969. (NASA) #
A technician works atop the white room, through which the astronauts will enter the spacecraft, on July 11, 1969. (NASA) #
Neil Armstrong waving in front, and the crew or Apollo 11, head for the van that will take the crew to the rocket for launch to the moon at Kennedy Space Center in Merritt Island, Florida, on July 16, 1969. (AP Photo/File) #
Berliners stand in front of a TV shop and look through the window to observe the start of the Apollo 11 space mission on television, June 16, 1969, in Berlin, Germany. (AP Photo/Edwin Reichert) #
Launch of Apollo 11, on July 16, 1969. Fully fueled for liftoff, the Saturn V weighed 2.8 million kilograms (6.2 million pounds) -- and generated 34.5 million newtons (7.6 million pounds) of thrust at launch. (NASA) #
US Vice President Spiro Agnew and former US President Lyndon B. Johnson, in a crowd watching the liftoff of the Apollo 11 mission at Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on July 16, 1969. (AFP/Getty Images) #
Apollo 11 launch as viewed from an Air Force EC-135N plane. (NASA) #
This view of Earth showing clouds over water was photographed from the Apollo 11 spacecraft following translunar injection. (NASA) #
Interior view of the Apollo 11 Lunar Module showing Astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr., lunar module pilot, during the lunar landing mission. This picture was taken by Astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, commander, prior to the moon landing. (NASA) #
View of lunar module and Earth beyond during the three-day coast to the Moon. (NASA) #
Mrs. Jan Armstrong registers pleasure over a picture of her husband, Apollo 11 commander, Neil Armstrong, taken during a telecast from the spacecraft and beamed back to earth, on July 18, 1969. In the rear seat is son, Mark, 6. (AP Photo) #
Reaching lunar orbit, a view of the surface west of Daedalus Crater. (NASA) #
Earthrise. A view from the Apollo 11 spacecraft showing Earth rising above the moon's horizon. (NASA) #
CSM "Columbia" over Craters Taruntius K, Taruntius P, and Dorsum Cayeux (in Mare Fecunditatis). Partially visible are craters Anvil and Taruntius H. (NASA) #
Spacecraft communicators keep in contact with the Apollo 11 astronauts during their lunar landing mission on July 20, 1969. From left to right are astronauts Charles M. Duke Jr., James A. Lovell Jr. and Fred W. Haise Jr. (NASA) #
The Apollo 11 Lunar Module (LM) "Eagle", in a landing configuration is photographed in lunar orbit from the Command and Service Modules (CSM) "Columbia". Inside the LM were Commander, Neil A. Armstrong, and Lunar Module Pilot Edwin E. "Buzz" Aldrin Jr. The long "rod-like" protrusions under the landing pods are lunar surface sensing probes. Upon contact with the lunar surface, the probes send a signal to the crew to shut down the descent engine. (NASA) #
View from LM (Armstrong's window) of craters Messier & Messier A. (NASA) #
Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong steps on surface of the moon on July 20, 1969. (AP Photo) #
In Paris,France, a family watches the American astronaut Neil Armstrong commander of Apollo 11, setting his foot on the moon on July 20, 1969. Hundred of millions of television viewers round the world watched this event on television. (AFP/Getty Images) #
Neil Armstrong's first photo, after setting foot on the Moon, on July 20, 1969. (NASA) #
Shallow crater near Lunar Module. (NASA) #
One of the first steps taken on the Moon, this is an image of Buzz Aldrin's bootprint from the Apollo 11 mission. (NASA) #
Buzz Aldrin's shadow and a bleak lunar landscape. (NASA) #
Buzz Aldrin salutes the deployed United States flag during the Apollo 11 Extravehicular Activity (EVA) on the lunar surface. Astronaut Neil Armstrong took this picture with a 70mm Hasselblad lunar surface camera. (NASA) #
A crowd in New York's Central Park watches as the Apollo 11 crew lands on the moon on July 20, 1969. (AP Photo/Marty Lederhandler) #
Aldrin unpacks experiments from the lunar module. (NASA) #
Astronaut Buzz Aldrin carries experiments for deployment. (NASA) #
Aldrin assembles the Passive Seismic Experiment Package, a device left to measure moonquakes. (NASA) #
A family in Tokyo, Japan, watch their TV screen as President Richard Nixon is superimposed on a live TV Broadcast of the Apollo 11 astronauts salute from the Moon, in July of 1969. (AP Photo) #
Armstrong takes a photo of the landing site from a distance. (NASA) #
Lunar module ascent stage, still on the Moon's surface, with Earth seen overhead. (NASA) #
Lunar module ladder and commemorative plaque. The plaque reads: "Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon July 1969, A.D. We came in peace for all mankind." (NASA) #
Astronaut Neil Armstrong, back in the lunar module, after his historic moonwalk. (NASA) #
After liftoff from the Moon, the lunar module approaches CSM for docking, with earthrise in background. (NASA) #
View of full lunar disc during the return trip. (NASA) #
Earth grows larger in the windows of the Command Module Columbia during the return trip of Apollo 11. (NASA) #
Apollo 11 crew boarding a recovery helicopter after a successful splashdown on July 24, 1969. (AP Photo) #
The Mission Operations Control Room in the Mission Control Center, showing flight controllers celebrating the successful conclusion of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission on July 24 1969. (NASA) #
President Richard M. Nixon was in the central Pacific recovery area to welcome the Apollo 11 astronauts aboard the U.S.S. Hornet. Already confined to the Mobile Quarantine Facility (MQF) are (left to right) Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr.. Apollo 11 splashed down at 11:49 a.m. (CDT), July 24, 1969, about 812 nautical miles southwest of Hawaii and only 12 nautical miles from the U.S.S. Hornet. (NASA) #
New Yorkers line 42nd Street to cheer Apollo 11 astronauts on August 13, 1969. In lead car from left are: Edwin Aldrin, Michael Collins and Neil Armstrong, who return the greeting with waves. Motorcade is traveling East on 42nd street, towards the United Nations building. (AP Photo/STF) #
The Apollo 11 astronauts, wearing sombreros and ponchos, are swarmed by thousands in Mexico City as their motorcade is slowed by the enthusiastic crowd during a Presidential Goodwill Tour. The tour carried the Apollo 11 astronauts and their wives to 24 countries and 27 cities in 45 days. (NASA) #
Apollo 11 Astronaut Neil Armstrong, his wife, Jan and sons, Ricky and Mark, are engulfed by ticker tape as they ride down Houston's Main Street in a parade honoring the astronauts in Houston, Texas, on August 16, 1969. (AP Photo) #

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