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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