On July 16, 1969, more than half a billion people watched the launch of Apollo 11 from the Kennedy Space Flight Center, taking commander Neil Armstrong, lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin and command module pilot Michael Collins on a mission for the history books – a mission to become the first humans to land on another celestial body. Armstrong and Aldrin became the first humans to set foot on the Moon on July 20, while Michael Collins remained aboard the command module in lunar orbit.
Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins, as well as the hundreds of thousands of people involved in the mission, set us on an incredible path of human exploration, with more missions and more knowledge of what’s beyond our home planet. It is thanks to everyone involved in the Apollo Program mission and other early spaceflight programs that we have come so far and now set our sights on Mars.
This July, in a series of special events, NASA is marking the 50th anniversary of the Apollo Program — the historic effort that sent the first U.S. astronauts into orbit around the Moon in 1968, and landed a dozen astronauts on the lunar surface between 1969 and 1972.