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Apollo 11: A Legacy
07.20.12
 
One of the first steps taken on the moon, this is an image of Buzz Aldrin's bootprint from the Apollo 11 mission. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the Moon on July 20, 1969. Credit: NASA One of the first steps taken on the Moon, this is an image of Buzz Aldrin's bootprint from the Apollo 11 mission. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the Moon on July 20, 1969. Credit: NASA
Apollo: A Legacy

More than 40 years ago, men from Earth left our home planet and journeyed to the moon.

It all started on May 25, 1961, when President John F. Kennedy announced the goal of sending astronauts to the moon before the end of the decade. Coming just three weeks after Mercury astronaut Alan Shepard became the first American in space, Kennedy's bold challenge set the nation on a journey unlike any before in human history.

Eight years of work by thousands of Americans came to fruition on July 20, 1969, when Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong stepped out of the lunar module and took "one small step" in the Sea of Tranquility, calling it "a giant leap for mankind."

Six of the missions -- Apollos 11, 12, 14, 15, 16 and 17 -- landed on the moon, studying soil mechanics, meteoroids, seismic, heat flow, lunar ranging, magnetic fields and solar wind. Apollos 7 and 9 tested spacecraft in Earth orbit; Apollo 10 orbited the moon as the dress rehearsal for the first landing.

An oxygen tank explosion forced Apollo 13 to scrub its landing, but the "can-do" problem solving of the crew and mission control turned the mission into a "successful failure."

For the past half-century, the moon has been the destination of some of humanity's most monumental and challenging expeditions. As the moon becomes more accessible to both national space programs and private enterprise, steps are being taken to protect lunar artifacts for both their historical and scientific value. 'A Compilation of Human Artifacts on the Moon' is a resource that offers maps of human artifacts on the moon based on data available as of July 2012. A comprehensive catalog of man-made material on the moon is also available.

› Text and Audio Versions of President Kennedy's Speech
› The Apollo Program--A List of Resources
› View Key Apollo Source Documents
› History of Human Space Flight
› Apollo-Soyuz Test Project
› A Compilation of Human Artifacts on the Moon
› Catalogue of Manmade Material on the Moon
› Protecting and Preserving the Historic and Scientific Value of U.S. Government Lunar Artifacts