In the 50 years since Apollo 11 took off from Launch Pad 39A in Cape Kennedy, Florida, only a dozen NASA astronauts have strolled along the moon’s surface. The original mission lasted 12 days, depositing the crew in the Pacific Ocean after a total flight distance of 952,000 miles. Several books, films, and series have eulogized that first successful lunar flight and walk, but none are as breathtaking as the Hasselbad camera stills that Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong used to document their explorations of the moon’s surface. In addition to the famous flag and footsteps, they left behind a seismic detector and laser-reflector to continue capturing space data long after Apollo had departed.
To celebrate the anniversary of the July 1969 expedition, we picked out some of our favorite photos from the NASA archives to remind us that no matter how far we go in or past the solar system, it all started here, with the Earth’s most beloved and mysterious satellite.