Today In Science History – July 20 – The Day We Landed on the Moon 1

Apollo 11 First Step
Neil Armstrong descending the ladder from the Eagle landing module to become the first man to walk on the Moon. Credit: NASA

July 20 is the anniversary of the Moon landing.

On September 12, 1962, President John Kennedy made a speech at Rice University in Texas affirming America’s commitment to its space program. At one point in the speech he said:

We choose to go to the Moon. We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

On July 20, 1969, America met the challenge and successfully landed two men on the Moon. Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin left their Apollo lander module and took the first steps on the Moon. Armstrong described the surface dust as “fine, almost like a powder”. Aldrin described the view as “Magnificent desolation” Both men spent their time on the surface collecting samples and photographing every part of the landing module. These photographs would help NASA engineers improve the design of future landers after seeing the effects of the landing on their design. The astronauts reported little difficulty adapting their walk to the one sixth gravity they were used to, but the moondust was a little slippery. Armstrong said he had to plan his movement six or seven steps ahead of time. After two and a half hours, they returned to the lander to rest before departure the next day.