In the midst of mankind’s most significant event in space history, a plaque marks the meaning of Earth’s peaceful mission.
To say the events that take place from July 16 to July 24, 1969 are extraordinary seems a bit over-stated in this day and age … until you witness them all over again. Even now, 52 years later, Apollo 11’s moon mission remains one of the most thrilling achievements not only for NASA, a longtime PlaqueMaker customer, but for the United States and continues to capture the imaginations of people young and old, all over the globe.
Fulfilling a Dream. July 16, 1969 – With just six months left, Apollo 11 launches from Cape Kennedy Space Center, carrying astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr. “on a three-stage 363-foot rocket using its 7.5 million pounds of thrust to propel them into space and into history” – the start of fulfilling President John F. Kennedy’s challenge to put a man on the moon before the decade is out. Twelve minutes later, the crew is orbiting the Earth. One and a half orbits after that, they initiate the “translunar injection” and head out of this world. In three more days, they’re circling the moon.
The Eagle Has Landed. July 20, 1969, 4:18 p.m. EDT – One day in lunar orbit, and Armstrong and Aldrin captain the Lunar Module, aka the Eagle, to touch down in the Sea of Tranquility, with just 30 second of fuel remaining. Armstrong reports, “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”
One Small Step. NASA reports,”At 10:56 p.m. EDT, Armstrong is ready to plant the first human foot on another world. With more than half a billion people watching on television, he climbs down the ladder and proclaims, ‘That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.'” When Aldrin becomes the second human to set foot on another world, he describes what he sees: “magnificent desolation.”
Space Plaque. After exploring the moon’s surface for two and a half hours, Armstrong and Aldrin leave behind an American flag, a patch honoring the fallen Apollo 1 crew and a plaque on one of Eagle’s legs. The inscription reads:
Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the moon. July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.
Beginning of a New Age. July 24, 1969 – The inaugural crew returns safely to Earth, splashing down off the coast of Hawaii. Over the next three and a half years, 10 astronauts follow in their small steps. On the last Apollo lunar mission, Commander Gene Cernan reiterates the entire space program’s magnificent directive: “We leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return, with peace, and hope for all mankind.”