Exploration of the Moon

Neil Armstrong on the ‘Eagle’ lunar module
Neil Armstrong on the ‘Eagle’ lunar module
Image 1/2, Credit: NASA

Neil Armstrong on the ‘Eagle’ lunar module

Neil Armstrong landed on the surface of the Moon on 21 July 1969 in the ‘Eagle’ lunar module.

Tracks on the Moon
Tracks on the Moon
Image 2/2, Credit: NASA, Scan: JSC

Tracks on the Moon

Buzz Aldrin’s footprint on the Moon. He wanted to document the characteristic lunar dust, which is as fine as powder.

Houston: Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed! – Almost 50 years ago, on 20 July 1969 at 20:17 UTC, Neil Armstrong and Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin landed on the Moon, achieving a goal that had become so important to the United States of America that for a decade they had prioritised it above almost everything else. Towards the end, the landing became quite difficult because there was only enough fuel for a few more seconds of flight and the landing approach almost had to be aborted. However, the two new national heroes – and not forgetting Michael Collins, the pilot of the Command and Service Module that remained in lunar orbit – mastered this situation with ice-cool professionalism. They ignored – after an “OK” from ground control – yet another (false) radar alarm. Admittedly, the first crewed Moon landing was largely a political demonstration. But regardless of how today’s historians judge the outcome of the ‘race to the Moon’ that culminated in Armstrong’s “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind”, the Apollo project was much more than just 12 astronauts walking on the Moon. For technology, but even more so for scientific research, this was a giant step forward: the Apollo programme was the birth of planetary research.

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  • Elke Heinemann
    German Aerospace Center (DLR)
    Public Affairs and Communications
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  • Ulrich Köhler
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    German Aerospace Center (DLR)
    Institute of Planetary Research
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  • Martin Fleischmann
    German Aerospace Center (DLR)
    DLR Space Administration
    Space Administration, Strategy and Communications
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