12 photos that capture the wonder of Apollo 11
Half a century ago, astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, and Michael Collins took a trip to the moon. Science has come a long way since then—we sent a spacecraft to sample an asteroid, have robots crawling on the surface of Mars, and just inked a plan to ship a drone to Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. Regardless, looking back, Apollo 11 still inspires that remarkable sense of accomplishment and wonder. Check out these historical photos from the mission to see for yourself.
Apollo 11 Launches – July 16, 1969
Apollo 11 launched on July 16, 1969, carrying astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, and Michael Collins to the moon.
Astronaut Buzz Aldrin in the Apollo 11 Lunar Module
Buzz Aldrin prepares to touch down on the moon in the Apollo 11 Lunar Module on July 20, 1969.
The Eagle Prepares to Land
The Lunar Module, Eagle, prepares to land. The rods protruding from the landing pads sense the moon’s surface and send word to the crew to shut off the descent engine.
Apollo 11 Moonwalk
Using a 70mm Hasselblad lunar surface camera, Armstrong snapped this photo of Aldrin posing next to the unfurled American flag.
Buzz Aldrin Deploys Apollo 11 Experiments
Aldrin lugs equipment for two experiments across the lunar surface. In his left hand is a seismometer that listened for moonquakes and gave us a peek into the moon’s internal structure. In his right, he holds a laser reflector for measuring the distance between Earth and the moon.
Crater 308 on the Moon
Behold crater 308, also known as Daedalus, as seen from the Apollo 11 craft in lunar orbit. The crater has a diameter of 50 miles.
Buzz Aldrin on the Moon
Armstrong took this iconic photograph of Aldrin in the Sea of Tranquility region of the moon, where they landed the Eagle and planted the U.S. flag.
Astronaut Neil A. Armstrong
Neil Armstrong pauses to take a photo in the Lunar Module after touching down on the moon.
Apollo 11 Comes Home
Collins, Aldrin, and Armstrong successfully reentered Earth’s atmosphere and splashed down into the Pacific on July 24, 1969.
Triumph After Splashdown of Apollo 11
Mission Control Center in Houston, Texas celebrates the successful splashdown.
Apollo 11 Astronauts Relax Following Successful Mission
Collins, Aldrin, and Armstrong relax back on Earth in a Mobile Quarantine Facility. They stayed in quarantine for 88 hours after splashdown to minimize risk of spreading dangerous “moon germs.”
Apollo 11 Welcome
The Apollo 11 crew triumphantly traverse Broadway and Park Avenue in a New York City ticker tape parade on August 13, 1969. You can spot Aldrin, Armstrong, and Collins in the lead car.