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Apollo 11: One Giant Leap for Mankind

On May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy challenged the nation to land a man on the Moon before the end of the decade, striking a responsive chord with the American people. The Apollo program was created to meet this goal, and on July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men to walk on the Moon as part of the Apollo 11 mission. 

In commemoration of this year's 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, explore National Archives records that detail the carefully choreographed sequence of steps—from lift-off to splash-down—that resulted in the mission’s “giant leap for mankind."

Photograph of Astronaut Edwin Aldrin walking near the lunar module
Apollo 11 Mission image - Astronaut Edwin Aldrin walks near the Lunar Module. National Archives Identifier 16685140
Photograph of Astronaut Neil Armstrong inside the lunar module
Photograph of Astronaut Edwin Aldrin carrying equipment on the moon

L: Neil A. Armstrong inside the Lunar Module after Extravehicular Activities. National Archives Identifier 16683662

R: Astronaut Edwin Aldrin carries experiments to deployment area. National Archives Identifier 16685259

Photograph of lunar surface with astronaut boot in field of view
Photograph of Astronaut Edwin Aldrin inside the lunar module

L: Lunar surface with Astronaut boot in field of view. National Archives Identifier 16685067
R: Astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin inside the Lunar Module. National Archives Identifier 16683238

Green office telephone used by President Nixon in the oval office to speak to Apollo 11 astronauts
Document from speechwriter in the event of moon disaster

L: Green office telephone used by President Richard Nixon in the Oval Office to speak to the Apollo XI astronauts after the Moon Landing. National Archives Identifier 6922346

R:  Memorandum from Speechwriter William Safire to President Nixon in the "event of moon disaster," 7/18/1969. National Archives Identifier 6922351

Photograph of President Nixon greeting the Apollo 11 astronauts during quarantine

Photograph of President Richard Nixon Greeting the Apollo 11 Astronauts on the USS Hornet. Due to concerns about the astronauts potentially being contaminated during their time in outer space, they were first kept in a modified Airstream trailer that served as a mobile quarantine facility before spending the remainder of the 21-day quarantine period at the NASA Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, Texas. National Archives Identifier 17409727

For more Apollo II records, resources, and stories:

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Photograph of four girls canoeing
Photograph of a Party of Four Girls Canoeing, 8/1940. National Archives Identifier 2128780

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