Did we really land on the moon?

The primary goal of Apollo 11 was to complete a national goal set by President John F. Kennedy on May 25, 1961: to land a crewed spacecraft on the moon and return to Earth.
Interesting Engineering

Do you know the farthest distance humans have ever made a phone call? 

Well, it’s 240,000 miles (385,000 km), and you’d be surprised to know that this call was made from the White House to the moon —- Yes, you heard that right “to the moon”. On July 20, 1969, US president Richard Nixon made a historic telephone call to congratulate Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin for their successful moon landing.  

In Armstrong’s words, it was "one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind."

The first moon landing was indeed a giant leap for many reasons. For the first time, humans really touched the moon and even walked on the lunar surface.  President Nixon made the longest call in human history, and NASA one-upped the Soviet space program like forever.

About 650 million people on Earth witnessed this extraordinary moment on their television screens. 

Here is what happened before and after Neil Armstrong took the first step on the moon. 

It was July 16, 1969. Commander Neil Armstrong, Command Module Pilot Michael Collins, and Lunar Module Pilot Buzz Aldrin were all aboard the Saturn V rocket for the launch of the Apollo 11 moon mission. 

Even to this date, Saturn V is the only space rocket that ever took humans outside the low Earth orbit. At the time of launch, it weighed nearly 6.7 million pounds (3,038,500 kg) and was 363 feet (111 m) in height i.e. about eight meters taller than the Statue of Liberty.

Finally, on July 21, 1969, the Saturn V rocket landed on the moon. Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin came out of the lunar module called Eagle to set up a TV camera so that this historic event could be watched by people on Earth. 

During their 21 hours and 38-minute long stay on the moon. The astronauts talked to President Nixon, installed a device that was meant for measuring the distance between Earth and the moon, collected 50 pounds (23 kgs) of lunar soil and rock samples, planted the American flag, and captured numerous photographs.

In memory of the five astronauts who died during the previous Apollo missions, Armstrong and Aldrin also left five commemorative medallions on the moon, along with a silicon disk, a goodwill message from 73 countries, and names of congress members and NASA leaders.

The astronauts returned to Earth on July 24, 1969, and they were kept in quarantine for 21 days inside the Lunar Receiving Laboratory at NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston. During this period, the astronauts were thoroughly examined for any diseases, microbes, or infections they may have carried from the moon.

The lunar samples that were collected during the Apollo 11 mission are currently stored in a protected environment at JSC’s Lunar Space Laboratory. Even today, these samples are helping scientists in uncovering various mysteries of the moon and our solar system. 

Hopefully, humanity will witness more such groundbreaking events in the coming years. The historic moon landing of 1969 will always serve as a strong inspiration for such endeavors, all thanks to the amazing astronauts, scientists, and engineers who made Apollo 11 successful.