“I’m at the foot of the ladder,” he says in a remarkably calm voice. “The LM footpads are only depressed in the surface about 1 or 2 inches, although the surface appears to be very, very fine-grained as you get close to it. It’s almost like a powder.” A half-minute later, he declares: “OK. I’m going to step off the LM now.”
After what seemed like an eternity (though it lasted only 11 seconds), Armstrong uttered the words that still resonate across half a century: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” It marked the culmination of a mission that had begun on a sunny Florida morning four days before, the fulfillment of a goal set eight years earlier by President John F. Kennedy, and the achievement of the dreams of countless people over the centuries who had stared in awe at Earth’s brilliant satellite.
After waiting anxiously for 20 minutes, Buzz Aldrin descended the Eagle’s ladder and joined Armstrong on the surface. For two and a half hours, the astronauts gathered soil samples, deployed scientific experiments, planted a U.S. flag, and talked with President Nixon from the Oval Office. All the while, the third member of the Apollo 11 crew, Michael Collins, orbited some 66 miles (106 km) overhead.
The following images showcase a small sample of the more than 1,000 photographs the Apollo crew captured during this historic mission. So sit back, grab a cup of coffee (or glass of Tang), and experience humankind’s grand adventure one more time.