17 March 1969

Golda Meir becomes the first female Prime Minister of Israel.

Golda Meir

Golda Meir
גולדה מאיר
Golda Meir 03265u.jpg
4th Prime Minister of Israel
In office
March 17, 1969 – June 3, 1974
PresidentZalman Shazar
Ephraim Katzir
Preceded byYigal Allon (Acting)
Succeeded byYitzhak Rabin
Minister of Internal Affairs
In office
July 16, 1970 – September 1, 1970
Preceded byHaim-Moshe Shapira
Succeeded byYosef Burg
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
June 18, 1956 – January 12, 1966
Prime MinisterDavid Ben-Gurion
Levi Eshkol
Preceded byMoshe Sharett
Succeeded byAbba Eban
Minister of Labour
In office
March 10, 1949 – June 19, 1956
Prime MinisterDavid Ben-Gurion
Preceded byMordechai Bentov (Acting)
Succeeded byMordechai Namir
Ambassador to Soviet Union
In office
1948 – March 10, 1949
Prime MinisterDavid Ben-Gurion
Personal details
Golda Mabovitch

(1898-05-03)May 3, 1898
Kiev, Russian Empire (now Ukraine)
DiedDecember 8, 1978(1978-12-08) (aged 80)
Jerusalem, Israel
Political partyMapai (Before 1968)
Labor Party (1968–1978)
Other political
Alignment (1969–1978)
Morris Meyerson
(m. 1917; died 1951)
Alma materUniversity of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Golda Meir[nb 1] (born Golda Mabovitch; May 3, 1898 – December 8, 1978) was an Israeli teacher, kibbutznik, stateswoman, politician and the fourth Prime Minister of Israel.

Born in Kiev, she emigrated to the United States as a child with her family in 1906, and was educated there, becoming a teacher. After marrying her husband, the couple emigrated to then Palestine in 1921, settling on a kibbutz. Meir was elected prime minister of Israel on March 17, 1969, after serving as Minister of Labour and Foreign Minister.[5] The world's fourth and Israel's first and only woman to hold the office, she has been described as the "Iron Lady" of Israeli politics;[6] the term was later applied to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Former Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion used to call Meir "the best man in the government"; she was often portrayed as the "strong-willed, straight-talking, grey-bunned grandmother of the Jewish people."[7]

Meir resigned as prime minister in 1974, the year following the Yom Kippur War. She died in 1978 of lymphoma.[8]

Early life

Golda Mabovitch, before 1910

Golda Mabovitch was born on May 3, 1898, in Kiev, Russian Empire, present-day Ukraine, to Blume Neiditch (died 1951) and Moshe Mabovitch (died 1944), a carpenter. Meir wrote in her autobiography that her earliest memories were of her father boarding up the front door in response to rumours of an imminent pogrom. She had two sisters, Sheyna (1889–1972) and Tzipke (1902–1981), as well as five other siblings who died in childhood. She was especially close to Sheyna.

Moshe Mabovitch left to find work in New York City in 1903.[9] In his absence, the rest of the family moved to Pinsk to join her mother's family. In 1905, Moshe moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in search of higher-paying work, and found employment in the workshops of the local railroad yard. The following year, he had saved up enough money to bring his family to the United States.

Golda's mother Blume Mabovitch ran a grocery store on Milwaukee's north side, where by the age of eight Golda had been put in charge of watching the store when her mother went to the market for supplies. Golda attended the Fourth Street Grade School (now Golda Meir School) from 1906 to 1912. A leader early on, she organized a fundraiser to pay for her classmates' textbooks. After forming the American Young Sisters Society, she rented a hall and scheduled a public meeting for the event. She graduated as valedictorian of her class.

At 14, she studied at North Division High School and worked part-time. Her employers included Schuster's department store and the Milwaukee Public Library.[10][11] Her mother wanted Golda to leave school and marry, but she declined. She bought a train ticket to Denver, Colorado, and went to live with her married sister, Sheyna Korngold. The Korngolds held intellectual evenings at their home, where Meir was exposed to debates on Zionism, literature, women's suffrage, trade unionism, and more. In her autobiography, she wrote: "To the extent that my own future convictions were shaped and given form  ... those talk-filled nights in Denver played a considerable role." In Denver, she also met Morris Meyerson (also "Myerson"; December 17, 1893, Chicago, Illinois, US – May 25, 1951, Israel), a sign painter, whom she later married on December 24, 1917.[12]

Return to Milwaukee, Zionist activism, and teaching

Golda Mabovitch in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1914

In 1913, Golda returned to North Division High, graduating in 1915. While there, she became an active member of Young Poale Zion, which later became Habonim, the Labor Zionist youth movement. She spoke at public meetings and embraced Socialist Zionism.[13]

She attended the teachers college Milwaukee State Normal School (now University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee) in 1916, and probably part of 1917. In 1917, she took a position at a Yiddish-speaking Folks Schule in Milwaukee. While at the Folks Schule, she came more closely into contact with the ideals of Labor Zionism. In 1913, she had begun dating Morris Meyerson (Myerson). She was a committed Labor Zionist and he was a dedicated socialist.[14] During this time, she also worked part-time at the Milwaukee Public Library.

When Golda and Morris married in 1917, settling in Palestine was her precondition for the marriage.[7] Golda had intended to make aliyah straight away, but her plans were disrupted when all transatlantic passenger services were canceled due to the entry of the United States into the First World War. She threw her energies into Poale Zion activities.[15] A short time after their wedding, she embarked on a fund-raising campaign for Poale Zion that took her across the United States.[7] The couple moved to Palestine in 1921, together with her sister Sheyna, and joined a kibbutz.[14]

Meir said in the 1975 edition of her autobiography My Life that

It is not only a matter, I believe, of religious observance and practice. To me, being Jewish means and has always meant being proud to be part of a people that has maintained its distinct identity for more than 2,000 years, with all the pain and torment that has been inflicted upon it.[16]

She strongly identified with Judaism culturally, but was an atheist in religious belief.[17][18][19]

Immigration to Mandatory Palestine

Golda Meir in the fields at Kibbutz Merhavia (1920s)

In the British Mandate of Palestine, Meir and her husband joined a kibbutz. Their first application to kibbutz Merhavia in the Jezreel Valley was rejected, but later they were accepted. Her duties included picking almonds, planting trees, working in the chicken coops, and running the kitchen. Recognizing her leadership abilities, the kibbutz chose her as its representative to the Histadrut, the General Federation of Labour.

In 1924, the couple left the kibbutz and lived briefly in Tel Aviv before settling in Jerusalem. There they had two children, their son Menachem (1924–2014) and their daughter Sarah (1926–2010).[20]

In 1928, Meir was elected secretary of Moetzet HaPoalot (Working Women's Council), which required her to spend two years (1932–34) as an emissary in the United States.[21] The children went with her, but Morris stayed in Jerusalem. Morris and Golda grew apart, but never divorced.[7] Morris died in 1951.

Histadrut activities

In 1934, when Meir returned from the United States, she joined the Executive Committee of the Histadrut and moved up the ranks to become the head of its Political Department. This appointment was important training for her future role in Israeli leadership.[22]

In July 1938, Meir was the Jewish observer from Palestine at the Évian Conference, called by President Franklin D. Roosevelt of the United States to discuss the question of Jewish refugees' fleeing Nazi persecution. Delegates from the 32 invited countries repeatedly expressed their sorrow for the plight of the European Jews, but outlined why their countries could not help by admitting the refugees.[23]

The only exception was the Dominican Republic, which pledged to accept 100,000 refugees on generous terms.[24] Meir was disappointed at the outcome and she remarked to the press, "There is only one thing I hope to see before I die and that is that my people should not need expressions of sympathy anymore."[12]

Prestate political role

In June 1946, the British arrested many leaders of the Zionist Yishuv (see Black Sabbath). Meir took over as acting head of the Political Department of the Jewish Agency during the incarceration of Moshe Sharett. Thus she became the principal negotiator between the Jews in Palestine and the British Mandatory authorities. After his release, Sharett went to the United States to attend talks on the UN Partition Plan, leaving Meir to head the Political Department until the establishment of the state in 1948.[22]

In January 1948, the treasurer of the Jewish Agency was convinced that Israel would not be able to raise more than seven to eight million dollars from the American Jewish community. Meir traveled to the United States, and she raised $50,000,000, which was used to purchase arms in Europe for the young country. Ben-Gurion wrote that Meir's role as the "Jewish woman who got the money which made the state possible" would go down one day in the history books.[7]

On May 10, 1948, four days before the official establishment of Israel, Meir traveled to Amman, disguised as an Arab woman, for a secret meeting with King Abdullah I of Transjordan, at which she urged him not to join the other Arab countries in attacking the Jews. Abdullah asked her not to hurry to proclaim a state. Meir replied: "We've been waiting for 2,000 years. Is that hurrying?"[25]

As the head of the Jewish Agency Political Department, Meir called the mass exodus of Arabs before the War of Independence in 1948 "dreadful", and she likened it to what had befallen the Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe.[26]

Diplomatic and ministerial career

Golda Meir talks with Eva Perón in Argentina, 1951.

Meir was one of 24 signatories (including two women) of the Israeli Declaration of Independence on May 14, 1948. She later recalled, "After I signed, I cried. When I studied American history as a schoolgirl and I read about those who signed the U.S. Declaration of Independence, I couldn't imagine these were real people doing something real. And there I was sitting down and signing a declaration of establishment." Israel was attacked the next day by the joint armies of neighboring countries in what became the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. During the war, Israel stopped the combined Arab assault, and then it launched a series of military offensives to defeat the invading Arab armies and to end the war.

Minister Plenipotentiary to Moscow

Meir surrounded by crowd of 50,000 Jews near Moscow Choral Synagogue on the first day of Rosh Hashanah in 1948.

Carrying the first Israeli-issued passport,[27][28] Meir was appointed Israel's minister plenipotentiary to the Soviet Union, with her term beginning on September 2, 1948, and ending in March 1949.[29] At the time, good relations with the Soviet Union were important for Israel's ability to secure arms from Eastern European countries for the struggle that accompanied its independence. In turn, Joseph Stalin and Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov sought to cultivate a strong relationship with Israel as a means of furthering the Soviet position in the Middle East.[30] Soviet–Israeli relations were complicated by Soviet policies against religious institutions and nationalist movements, made manifest in actions to shut down Jewish religious institutions as well as the ban on Hebrew language study and the prohibition of promoting emigration to Israel.[31]

During her brief stint in the USSR, Meir attended Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services at the Moscow Choral Synagogue.[29] She was mobbed by thousands of Russian Jews chanting her name. The Israeli 10,000-shekel banknote issued in November 1984 bore a portrait of Meir on one side and the image of the crowd that turned out to cheer her in Moscow on the other.[32]

Labor minister

Golda Meir at first session of the third government (1951)

In 1949, Meir was elected to the Knesset as a member of Mapai and served continuously until 1974. From 1949 to 1956, she served as Minister of Labour. While serving in this position, Meir carried out welfare state policies, orchestrated the integration of immigrants into Israel's workforce,[33] and introduced major housing and road construction projects.[34] From 1949 to 1956, 200,000 apartments and 30,000 houses were built, large industrial and agricultural developments were initiated, and new hospitals, schools, and roads were built.[35] Meir also helped in the development of the National Insurance Act of 1954, which introduced Israel's system of social security, together with the country's maternity benefits programme and other welfare measures.[36]

In 1955, on Ben-Gurion's instructions, she stood for the position of mayor of Tel Aviv. She lost by the two votes of the religious bloc who withheld their support on the grounds that she was a woman.[37] (Mayors then were elected by the city council, rather than elected directly as has been the case since 1978, see Municipal elections in Israel.)[38]

Foreign minister

In 1956, she became Foreign Minister under Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. Her predecessor, Moshe Sharett, had asked all members of the foreign service to take a Hebrew surname. Upon her appointment as foreign minister, she shortened "Meyerson/Myerson" to "Meir", which means "illuminate". As foreign minister, Meir promoted ties with the newly established states in Africa in an effort to gain allies in the international community.[34] She also believed that Israel had experience in nation-building that could be a model for the Africans. In her autobiography, she wrote:

"Like them, we had shaken off foreign rule; like them, we had to learn for ourselves how to reclaim the land, how to increase the yields of our crops, how to irrigate, how to raise poultry, how to live together, and how to defend ourselves." Israel could be a role model because it "had been forced to find solutions to the kinds of problems that large, wealthy, powerful states had never encountered".[39]

Meir's first months as Foreign Minister coincided with the Suez Crisis, which is also known as the Second Arab-Israeli War, the Tripartite aggression (in Arab countries), Sinai Campaign, and Operation Kadesh (by the Israeli government)[40] and others. Israel invaded Egypt in late 1956, followed by Britain and France. The aims were to regain Western control of the Suez Canal, remove Egyptian president Nasser, and provide a more secure western border and freedom of navigation through the Straits of Tiran for Israel. Meir was involved in planning and coordination with the French government and military prior to the start of military action.[41] During United Nations debates about the crisis, Meir took charge of the Israeli delegation.[42] After the fighting had started, the United States, the Soviet Union, and the United Nations forced the three invaders to withdraw. As a result of the conflict, the United Nations created the UNEF military peacekeeping force to police the Egyptian–Israeli border.

Meir with U.S. President John F. Kennedy, December 27, 1962.

On October 29, 1957, Meir's foot was slightly injured when a Mills bomb was thrown into the debating chamber of the Knesset. David Ben-Gurion and Moshe Carmel were more seriously injured. The attack was carried out by 25-year-old Moshe Dwek. Born in Aleppo, his motives were attributed to a dispute with the Jewish Agency, but he was described as being "mentally unbalanced".[43]

In 1958, Meir was recorded as having praised the work of Pope Pius XII on behalf of the Jewish people shortly after the pontiff's death. Pope Pius's legacy as a wartime pope has been controversial into the 21st century.[44]

The same year, during the wave of Jewish migration from Poland to Israel, Meir sought to prevent disabled and sick Polish Jews from immigrating to Israel. In a letter sent to Israel's ambassador in Warsaw, Katriel Katz, she wrote:

A proposal was raised in the coordination committee to inform the Polish government that we want to institute selection in aliyah, because we cannot continue accepting sick and handicapped people. Please give your opinion as to whether this can be explained to the Poles without hurting immigration."[45]

In the early 1960s, Meir was diagnosed with lymphoma. In January 1966, she retired from the Foreign Ministry, citing exhaustion and ill health. She soon returned to public life as secretary-general of Mapai, supporting Prime Minister Levi Eshkol in party conflicts.[34]


Meir (center) with Pat and President Richard Nixon in Washington, DC in 1973.
US President Richard Nixon and Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir meeting on March 1, 1973 in the Oval Office. Nixon's National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger is to the right of Nixon.

After Levi Eshkol's sudden death on February 26, 1969, the party elected Meir as his successor.[46] Meir came out of retirement to take office on March 17, 1969, serving as prime minister until 1974. Meir maintained the national unity government formed in 1967 after the Six-Day War, in which Mapai merged with two other parties (Rafi and Ahdut HaAvoda) to form the Israeli Labor Party.[34]

Six months after taking office, Meir led the reconfigured Alignment, comprising Labor and Mapam, into the 1969 general election. The Alignment managed what is still the best showing for a single party or faction in Israeli history, winning 56 seats. This is the only time that a party or faction has approached winning an outright majority in an election. The national unity government was retained.

In 1969 and the early 1970s, Meir met with many world leaders to promote her vision of peace in the Middle East, including Richard Nixon (1969), Nicolae Ceaușescu (1972) and Pope Paul VI (1973). In 1973, she hosted the chancellor of West Germany, Willy Brandt, in Israel.[34]

In August 1970, Meir accepted a U.S. peace initiative that called for an end to the War of Attrition and an Israeli pledge to withdraw to "secure and recognized boundaries" in the framework of a comprehensive peace settlement. The Gahal party quit the national unity government in protest, but Meir continued to lead the remaining coalition.[47]

On February 28, 1973, during a visit in Washington, D.C., Golda agreed with Henry Kissinger's peace proposal based on "security versus sovereignty": Israel would accept Egyptian sovereignty over all Sinai, while Egypt would accept Israeli presence in some of Sinai's strategic positions.[48][49][50][51][52]

Munich Olympics

In the wake of the Munich massacre at the 1972 Summer Olympics, Meir appealed to the world to "save our citizens and condemn the unspeakable criminal acts committed".[53] Outraged at the perceived lack of global action, she ordered the Mossad to hunt down and assassinate suspected leaders and operatives of Black September and the PFLP.[54] The 1986 TV film Sword of Gideon, based on the book Vengeance by George Jonas and Steven Spielberg's film Munich (2005) were both based on these events.

Dispute with Austria

During the 1970s about 200,000 Russian-Jewish emigrants were allowed to leave the Soviet Union for Israel by way of Austria. When seven of these emigrants were taken hostage at the Austria–Czechoslovakia border by Palestinian militants in September 1973, the Chancellor of Austria, Bruno Kreisky, closed the Jewish Agency's transit facility in Schönau, Austria. A few days later in Vienna, Meir tried to convince Kreisky to reopen the facility by appealing to his own Jewish origin, and described his position as "succumbing to terrorist blackmail". Kreisky did not change his position, so Meir returned to Israel, infuriated.[55] A few months later, Austria opened a new transition camp.[56]

Yom Kippur War

In the days leading up to the Yom Kippur War, Israeli intelligence could not conclusively determine that an attack was imminent. However, on October 5, 1973, Meir received official news that Syrian forces were massing on the Golan Heights. The prime minister was alarmed by the reports, and believed that the situation was similar to what preceded the Six-Day War. Her advisers, however, assured her not to worry, saying that they would have adequate notice before a war broke out. This made sense at the time; after the Six-Day War, most Israelis felt it unlikely that the Arabs would attack. Consequently, although the Knesset passed a resolution granting her power to demand a full-scale call-up of the military (instead of the typical cabinet decision), Meir did not mobilize Israel's forces early. Soon, though, the threat of war became very clear. Six hours before the outbreak of hostilities, Meir met with Minister of Defense Moshe Dayan and general David Elazar. While Dayan continued to argue that war was unlikely and favored calling up the air force and only two divisions, Elazar advocated full-scale army mobilization and the launch of a full-scale preemptive strike on Syrian forces.[57]

Meir approved full-scale mobilizing but sided with Dayan against a preemptive strike, citing Israel's need for foreign aid. She believed that Israel could not depend on European countries to supply Israel with military equipment, and the only country that might come to Israel's assistance was the United States. Fearing that the United States would be wary of intervening if Israel were perceived as initiating the hostilities, Meir decided on October 6 against a preemptive strike. She made it a priority to inform Washington of her decision. U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger later confirmed Meir's assessment by stating that if Israel had launched a preemptive strike, Israel would not have received "so much as a nail".[58][59]


Following the Yom Kippur War, Meir's government was plagued by infighting and questions over Israel's lack of preparation for the war. The Agranat Commission appointed to investigate the war cleared Meir of "direct responsibility". It said about her actions on Yom Kippur morning:

She decided wisely, with common sense and speedily, in favour of the full mobilization of the reserves, as recommended by the chief-of-staff, despite weighty political considerations, thereby performing a most important service for the defence of the state.[58]

Her party won the elections in December 1973, but Meir resigned on April 11, 1974. She believed that was the "will of the people" and that she had served enough time as premier. She believed the government needed to form a coalition. She said, "Five years are sufficient  ... It is beyond my strength to continue carrying this burden."[58][60] Yitzhak Rabin succeeded her on June 3, 1974.

In 1975, Meir published her autobiography, My Life.[58][61]

On November 19, 1977, President of Egypt Anwar Sadat became the first Arab leader to visit Israel in an official capacity when he met Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, and spoke before the Knesset in Jerusalem about his views on how to achieve a comprehensive peace in the Arab–Israeli conflict. He recommended the full implementation of UN Resolutions 242 and 338. On November 21, President Sadat again drove to the Knesset for meetings with the various Israeli Knesset factions. Meir was the first to speak for the Labor Party. She congratulated Sadat as the first Arab leader to come to Israel for the sake of the next generations' avoiding war. Meir praised Sadat for his courage and vision, and expressed the hope that while many differences remained to be resolved, that vision would be achieved in a spirit of mutual understanding.[62][63]


Golda Meir's grave on Mount Herzl

On December 8, 1978, Meir died of lymphatic cancer in Jerusalem at the age of 80. Meir was buried on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.[64]

Awards and recognition

In 1974, Meir was awarded the honor of World Mother by American Mothers.[65] In 1974 Meir was awarded the James Madison Award for Distinguished Public Service by Princeton University's American Whig–Cliosophic Society.[66]

In 1975, Meir was awarded the Israel Prize for her special contribution to society and the State of Israel.[58][67]

In 1985, Meir was inducted into the Colorado Women's Hall of Fame.[68]


Portrayals in film and theater

Facade of the Golda Meir Center for the Performing Arts – home to the Israeli Opera and the Cameri Theater, Tel Aviv

Meir's story has been the subject of many fictionalized portrayals. In 1977, Anne Bancroft played Meir in William Gibson's Broadway play Golda. The Australian actress Judy Davis played a young Meir in the television film A Woman Called Golda (1982), opposite Leonard Nimoy. Ingrid Bergman played the older Meir in the same film. Actress Colleen Dewhurst portrayed Meir in the 1986 TV movie Sword of Gideon.[69]

In 2003, American Jewish actress Tovah Feldshuh portrayed her on Broadway in Golda's Balcony, Gibson's second play about Meir's life. The play was controversial for implying that Meir considered using nuclear weapons during the Yom Kippur War.[citation needed] Valerie Harper portrayed Meir in the touring company production and in the film version of Golda's Balcony.[70] In 2005 actress Lynn Cohen portrayed Meir in Steven Spielberg's film Munich.

Tovah Feldshuh assumed the role of Meir again in the 2006 English-language French movie O Jerusalem. She was played by the Polish actress Beata Fudalej in the 2009 dramatic film The Hope directed by Márta Mészáros.[71]


Golda Meir Square in Manhattan
Israeli 10 New Sheqalim Banknote commemorating Golda Meir

Cultural references

In Israel, the term "Golda's shoes" (na'alei Golda) has become a reference to the sturdy orthopedic shoes that Golda favored. These shoes were also supplied to women soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces from its foundation to 1987.[80]

Published works

  • This Is Our Strength (1962) – Golda Meir's collected papers
  • My Father's House (1972)
  • My Life (1975). Putnam, ISBN 0-399-11669-9.

See also


  1. ^ /ˌɡldə mˈɪər/ GOHL-də may-EER;[1][2][3] Hebrew: גּוֹלְדָּה מֵאִיר, pronounced [ɡolˈda meˈʔiʁ, ˈɡolda -];[4] Arabic: جولدا مائير‎, romanizedJūldā Māʾīr.


  1. ^ "Meir". Collins English Dictionary. HarperCollins. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  2. ^ "Meir, Golda". Lexico UK Dictionary. Oxford University Press. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  3. ^ "Meir". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  4. ^ "Golda Meir: An Outline of a Unique Life: A Chronological Survey of Gola Meir's Life and Legacy". The Golda Meir Center for Political Leadership (Metropolitan State University of Denver). Retrieved February 20, 2014. Reference on name pronunciation (see "1956").
  5. ^ Golda Meir becomes Israeli Prime Minister, History Today
  6. ^ Golda Meir, a BBC News profile.
  7. ^ a b c d e Mother of a nation, but not much of a mother[permanent dead link] Haaretz, July 7, 2008
  8. ^ Yitzhak Shargil and Gil Sedan. "State Funeral Will Be Held Tuesday for Golda Meir Who Died Friday at the Age of 80." Jewish Telegraphic Agency December 11, 1978.
  9. ^ "Golda Meir's American Roots". Ajhs.org. Archived from the original on April 26, 2011. Retrieved June 27, 2016.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
  10. ^ Jim Higgins (November 27, 2017). "Author recounts Golda Meir's career as a leader, which began as a schoolgirl in Milwaukee". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved November 27, 2017.
  11. ^ "Goldie Mabowehz (Golda Meir), from the Milwaukee Public Library to Prime Minister of Israel". Milwaukee Public Library. March 15, 2017. Retrieved November 27, 2017.
  12. ^ a b c Golda Meir: An Outline Of A Life Metropolitan State College of Denver, mscd.edu; accessed November 22, 2015.
  13. ^ "Golda Meir". Jewish Virtual Library. Retrieved December 8, 2017.
  14. ^ a b "Golda Meir (1898–1978)". University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Retrieved December 8, 2017.
  15. ^ Burkett 2008, p. 37.
  16. ^ Golda Meir (1975). My Life. Weidenfeld & Nicolson. p. 459. ISBN 0860073947.
  17. ^ Giulio Meotti (2011). A New Shoah: The Untold Story of Israel's Victims of Terrorism. p. 147. ISBN 9781459617414. "Even atheist and socialist Israelis like David Ben-Gurion, Moshe Dayan, and Golda Meir were marked by the stories and legends of King David and the prophets. In other words, their lives had been shaped by Hebron."
  18. ^ Fischer, Raymond Robert. Israel My Inheritance: Persecuted Messianic Jews Cry Out for Justice and Reform. Lake Mary: Creation House, 2011. Print.
  19. ^ See Emma Goldman, "The Philosophy of Atheism", in Christopher Hitchens, ed., The Portable Atheist (Philadelphia: Da Capo Press, 2007), 129–133; Golda Meir is quoted by Jonathan Rosen in "So Was It Odd of God?", The New York Times, December 14, 2003.
  20. ^ "Golda Meir | Jewish Women's Archive". jwa.org. Retrieved June 12, 2018.
  21. ^ Golda Meir, Encyclopedia of Zionism and Israel, ed. Raphael Patai, New York, 1971, vol. II, pp. 776–77
  22. ^ a b "Golda Meir", Encyclopaedia Judaica, Keter, 1972, Jerusalem, vol. 11, pp. 1242–45
  23. ^ Flüchtlingskonferenz von Évian 1938, Als die Welt sich abwandte, Der Spiegel, July 6, 2018. (in German)
  24. ^ "MJHnyc.org" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on September 29, 2011. Retrieved September 2, 2011.
  25. ^ "Golda Meir: Peace and Arab Acceptance Were Goals of Her 5 Years as Premier". New York Times. December 9, 1978.
  26. ^ Margolick, David. "Endless War" New York Times, May 4, 2008
  27. ^ "Golda". The Emery/Weiner School. Archived from the original on July 26, 2011.
  28. ^ Pine, Dan. "Golda Meir's life was devoted to building Zionism". San Francisco Jewish Community Publications. Archived from the original on August 26, 2012. Retrieved July 15, 2005.
  29. ^ a b Yossi Goldstein, "Doomed to Fail: Golda Meir's Mission to Moscow (Part 1)", The Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs Vol. 5 No. 3 (September 2011), p. 131
  30. ^ Yossi Goldstein, "Doomed to Fail: Golda Meir's Mission to Moscow (Part 1)", The Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs Vol. 5 No. 3 (September 2011), p. 134 and 137
  31. ^ Goldstein (Sept 2011), "Doomed to Fail", p. 138
  32. ^ Call Uncle Sam Archived July 26, 2011, at the Wayback Machine News Behind the News, June 10, 2001
  33. ^ "Biography". Morim Madrichim. Retrieved January 31, 2013.[permanent dead link]
  34. ^ a b c d e "Golda Meir", Encyclopædia Britannica, Micropædia, 1974, 15th edition, p. 762
  35. ^ Flatt, J.M.M. (2012). Powerful Political Women: Stirring Biographies of Some of History's Most Powerful Women. iUniverse. p. 172. ISBN 9781462068197. Retrieved December 3, 2014.
  36. ^ Reich, B. (1990). Political Leaders of the Contemporary Middle East and North Africa: A Biographical Dictionary. Greenwood Press. p. 329. ISBN 9780313262135. Retrieved December 3, 2014.
  37. ^ My Life. p. 232. She 'wasn't very pleased' with B.G. and was 'enraged' by the religious bloc.
  38. ^ Dana Blander, "Elections for the Local Authority – Who, What, When, Where and How?", first published in Parliament, November 5, 2008, posted at Israel Democratic Institute; accessed August 21, 2018
  39. ^ Golda Meir, My Life, (New York: Dell Publishing, 1975), pp. 308–09
  40. ^ The Arab-Israeli Wars, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Retrieved March 21, 2015
  41. ^ Israel Studies An Anthology: The Sinai War and Suez Crisis, 1956–7, Motti Golani, 2010, Jewish Virtual Library. Retrieved March 21, 2015
  42. ^ Golda Meir: An Outline of a Unique Life – A Chronological Survey of Gola Meir's Life and Legacy, Gold Meir Center for Political Leadership, Metropolitan State University of Denver. Retrieved March 21, 2015
  43. ^ Robert William St. John, Ben Gurion. Jarrods Publishers (Hutchinson Group), London. 1959. pp. 304–306.
  44. ^ "Jewish Gratitude for the Help of Pope Pius XII Who helped them against the perverse regime of the Nazis". Catholic Apologetics. Retrieved September 2, 2011.
  45. ^ "Golda Meir wanted to keep sick Poles from making aliyah". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. December 9, 2009. Archived from the original on December 12, 2009.
  46. ^ 1969: Israel elects first female leader BBC News
  47. ^ "Golda Meir" Encyclopaedia Judaica, Keter, Jerusalem, 1972, pp. 1242–44.
  48. ^ Yitzhak Rabin (1996). The Rabin Memoirs. University of California Press. p. 215. ISBN 978-0-520-20766-0. security versus sovereignty ... Israel would have to accept Egyptian sovereignty over all the Sinai, while Egypt, in turn, would have to accept Israeli military presence in certain [Sinai] strategic positions.
  49. ^ Henry Kissinger (May 24, 2011). Years of Upheaval. Simon and Schuster. pp. 252–. ISBN 978-1-4516-3647-5. "She (Golda Meir) would be prepared to have me (Kissinger) continue to explore in private with Hafiz Ismail (the Egyptian delegate) some general principles of an overall settlement" this hint is compatible with Rabin description of Golda readiness for recognizing Egyptian sovereignty in Sinai
  50. ^ P.R. Kumaraswamy (January 11, 2013). Revisiting the Yom Kippur War. Routledge. pp. 105–. ISBN 978-1-136-32888-6. In February 1973, Kissinger held talks with Sadat's National Security Advisor, Hafez Ismail. ... memoirs that Kissinger told him that, on the basis of his conversations with Hafez Ismail, Egypt might be ready to start negotiating if Israel acknowledged Egyptian sovereignty over all of Sinai. Rabin consulted with Prime Minister Golda Meir and told Kissinger that Israel authorized him to explore this approach.
  51. ^ Richard Bordeaux Parker (2001). The October War: A Retrospective. University Press of Florida. pp. 64–. ISBN 978-0-8130-1853-9. Dinits evidence
  52. ^ Steven L. Spiegel (October 15, 1986). The Other Arab-Israeli Conflict: Making America's Middle East Policy, from Truman to Reagan. University of Chicago Press. pp. 237–. ISBN 978-0-226-76962-2. based on Rabin
  53. ^ Hostages killed in gun battle Daily Telegraph, September 5, 1972
  54. ^ Morris, B. (2001) [1999]. Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist–Arab Conflict, 1881–2000. New York: Vintage Books. ISBN 0-679-74475-4.
  55. ^ Avner 2010, p. 219.
  56. ^ "(German)". Historisch.apa.at. September 28, 1973. Archived from the original on August 20, 2011. Retrieved September 2, 2011.
  57. ^ Interview with Abraham Rabinovich: The Yom Kippur War as a Turning Point, History News Network
  58. ^ a b c d e Meir, Golda (1975). My Life. G. P. Putnam's Sons.
  59. ^ "The October War and U.S. Policy", National Security Archive, declassified archival records, George Washington University
  60. ^ Biography of Golda Meir, Zionism and Israel
  61. ^ Golda Meir Archived March 24, 2006, at Archive.today Virtual Jerusalem
  62. ^ [1], Jewish Virtual Library
  63. ^ "Three years too late, Golda Meir understood how war could have been avoided", Times of Israel
  64. ^ Golda Meir: a political biography
  65. ^ "Past National Mothers of The Year". Archived from the original on March 23, 2011.
  66. ^ "UN Secretariat Item: Letter – The American Whig-Cliosophic Society : James Madison Award for Distinguished Public Service – 1974 – Golda Meir" (PDF). Archives-trim.un.org. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 26, 2012. Retrieved November 25, 2012.
  67. ^ "Israel Prize Official Site – Recipients in 1975 (in Hebrew)".
  68. ^ Colorado Women's Hall of Fame, Golda Meir
  69. ^ "Filmography for Colleen Dewhurst". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved February 1, 2018.
  70. ^ Gans, Andrew (October 10, 2007). "'Golda's Balcony' Film, with Valerie Harper, Begins Engagement at Quad Cinema Oct. 10". Playbill. Retrieved February 1, 2018.
  71. ^ Mészáros wraps production on historical drama The Hope Screen Daily. February 26, 2009
  72. ^ Fourth Street School Wisconsin Historical Society
  73. ^ "Unidades Escolares". Government of RIo de Janeiro. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
  74. ^ Hubbard, John. "Frequently Asked Questions: Library Information". University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
  75. ^ "Golda Center – Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center". Zeev Matar Ltd. – זאב מטר בע"מ. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
  76. ^ Jerold S. Kayden; New York (N.Y.). Dept. of City Planning; The Municipal Art Society of New York (November 6, 2000). Privately Owned Public Space: The New York City Experience. John Wiley & Sons. p. 126. ISBN 978-0-471-36257-9.
  77. ^ "A Chronological Survey of Gola Meir's Life and Legacy". Mscd.edu. Retrieved September 2, 2011.
  78. ^ Golda Meir House U.S. Library of Congress
  79. ^ "Golda Meir House". Jewish Community Housing for the Elderly. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
  80. ^ "Israel's Women GIs Kick Off 'Golda Shoes'". Los Angeles Times. Tel Aviv. AP. May 11, 1987. Retrieved October 3, 2013.


Further reading

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Moshe Sharett
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Abba Eban
Preceded by
Yigal Allon
Prime Minister of Israel
Succeeded by
Yitzhak Rabin
Preceded by
Haim-Moshe Shapira
Minister of Internal Affairs
Succeeded by
Yosef Burg
Party political offices
Preceded by
Yigal Allon
Leader of the Alignment
Succeeded by
Yitzhak Rabin

20 July 1969

Apollo program: Apollo 11’s crew successfully makes the first manned landing on the Moon in the Sea of Tranquility. Americans Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin become the first humans to walk on the Moon six and a half hours later.

Apollo 11

Apollo 11
Aldrin Apollo 11 original.jpg
Buzz Aldrin on the Moon as photographed by Neil Armstrong (Armstrong seen in the visor reflection)
Mission typeCrewed lunar landing (G)
  • CSM: 1969-059A
  • LM: 1969-059C
Mission duration8 days, 3 hours, 18 minutes, 35 seconds
Spacecraft properties
Launch mass100,756 pounds (45,702 kg)
Landing mass10,873 pounds (4,932 kg)
Crew size3
Start of mission
Launch dateJuly 16, 1969, 13:32:00 (1969-07-16UTC13:32Z) UTC[3]
RocketSaturn V SA-506
Launch siteKennedy Space Center LC-39A
End of mission
Recovered byUSS Hornet
Landing dateJuly 24, 1969, 16:50:35 (1969-07-24UTC16:50:36Z) UTC
Landing site
Orbital parameters
Reference systemSelenocentric
Pericynthion altitude100.9 kilometers (54.5 nmi)[4]
Apocynthion altitude122.4 kilometers (66.1 nmi)[4]
Inclination1.25 degrees[4]
Period2 hours[4]
EpochJuly 19, 1969, 21:44 UTC[4]
Lunar orbiter
Spacecraft componentCommand and service module
Orbital insertionJuly 19, 1969, 17:21:50 UTC[5]
Orbital departureJuly 22, 1969, 04:55:42 UTC[6]
Lunar lander
Spacecraft componentApollo Lunar Module
Landing dateJuly 20, 1969, 20:17:40 UTC[7]
Return launchJuly 21, 1969, 17:54:00 UTC[8]
Landing site
Sample mass21.55 kilograms (47.51 lb)
Surface EVAs1
EVA duration2 hours, 31 minutes, 40 seconds
Docking with LM
Docking dateJuly 16, 1969, 16:56:03 UTC[5]
Undocking dateJuly 20, 1969, 17:44:00 UTC[10]
Docking with LM ascent stage
Docking dateJuly 21, 1969, 21:35:00 UTC[6]
Undocking dateJuly 21, 1969, 23:41:31 UTC[6]
Circular insignia: eagle with wings outstretched holds olive branch on Moon with Earth in background, in blue and gold border. Three astronauts in spacesuits without helmets sitting in front of a large photo of the Moon.
Left to right: Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, Buzz Aldrin 

Apollo 11 was the spaceflight that first landed humans on the Moon. Commander Neil Armstrong and lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin formed the American crew that landed the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle on July 20, 1969, at 20:17 UTC. Armstrong became the first person to step onto the lunar surface six hours and 39 minutes later on July 21 at 02:56 UTC; Aldrin joined him 19 minutes later. They spent about two and a quarter hours together outside the spacecraft, and they collected 47.5 pounds (21.5 kg) of lunar material to bring back to Earth. Command module pilot Michael Collins flew the Command Module Columbia alone in lunar orbit while they were on the Moon's surface. Armstrong and Aldrin spent 21 hours, 36 minutes on the lunar surface at a site they named Tranquility Base before lifting off to rejoin Columbia in lunar orbit.

Apollo 11 was launched by a Saturn V rocket from Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, Florida, on July 16 at 13:32 UTC, and it was the fifth crewed mission of NASA's Apollo program. The Apollo spacecraft had three parts: a command module (CM) with a cabin for the three astronauts, the only part that returned to Earth; a service module (SM), which supported the command module with propulsion, electrical power, oxygen, and water; and a lunar module (LM) that had two stages—a descent stage for landing on the Moon and an ascent stage to place the astronauts back into lunar orbit.

After being sent to the Moon by the Saturn V's third stage, the astronauts separated the spacecraft from it and traveled for three days until they entered lunar orbit. Armstrong and Aldrin then moved into Eagle and landed in the Sea of Tranquility on July 20. The astronauts used Eagle's ascent stage to lift off from the lunar surface and rejoin Collins in the command module. They jettisoned Eagle before they performed the maneuvers that propelled Columbia out of the last of its 30 lunar orbits onto a trajectory back to Earth.[6] They returned to Earth and splashed down in the Pacific Ocean on July 24 after more than eight days in space.

Armstrong's first step onto the lunar surface was broadcast on live TV to a worldwide audience. He described the event as "one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind."[a][12] Apollo 11 effectively ended the Space Race and fulfilled a national goal proposed in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy: "before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth."[13]


In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the United States was engaged in the Cold War, a geopolitical rivalry with the Soviet Union.[14] On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite. This surprise success fired fears and imaginations around the world. It demonstrated that the Soviet Union had the capability to deliver nuclear weapons over intercontinental distances, and challenged American claims of military, economic and technological superiority.[15] This precipitated the Sputnik crisis, and triggered the Space Race.[16] President Dwight D. Eisenhower responded to the Sputnik challenge by creating the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and initiating Project Mercury,[17] which aimed to launch a man into Earth orbit.[18] But on April 12, 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first person in space, and the first to orbit the Earth.[19] Nearly a month later, on May 5, 1961, Alan Shepard became the first American in space, completing a 15-minute suborbital journey. After being recovered from the Atlantic Ocean, he received a congratulatory telephone call from Eisenhower's successor, John F. Kennedy.[20]

Since the Soviet Union had higher lift capacity launch vehicles, Kennedy chose, from among options presented by NASA, a challenge beyond the capacity of the existing generation of rocketry, so that the US and Soviet Union would be starting from a position of equality. A crewed mission to the Moon would serve this purpose.[21]

On May 25, 1961, Kennedy addressed the United States Congress on "Urgent National Needs" and declared:

I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade [1960s] is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish. We propose to accelerate the development of the appropriate lunar space craft. We propose to develop alternate liquid and solid fuel boosters, much larger than any now being developed, until certain which is superior. We propose additional funds for other engine development and for unmanned explorations—explorations which are particularly important for one purpose which this nation will never overlook: the survival of the man who first makes this daring flight. But in a very real sense, it will not be one man going to the Moon—if we make this judgment affirmatively, it will be an entire nation. For all of us must work to put him there.

— Kennedy's speech to Congress[22]

On September 12, 1962, Kennedy delivered another speech before a crowd of about 40,000 people in the Rice University football stadium in Houston, Texas.[23][24] A widely quoted refrain from the middle portion of the speech reads as follows:

Kennedy, in a blue suit and tie, speaks at a wooden podium bearing the seal of the President of the United States. Vice President Lyndon Johnson and other dignitaries stand behind him.
President John F. Kennedy speaking at Rice University on September 12, 1962

There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in outer space as yet. Its hazards are hostile to us all. Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind, and its opportunity for peaceful cooperation may never come again. But why, some say, the Moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask, why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas? We choose to go to the Moon! 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 we intend to win, and the others, too.[25]

In spite of that, the proposed program faced the opposition of many Americans and was dubbed a "moondoggle" by Norbert Wiener, a mathematician at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.[26][27] The effort to land a man on the Moon already had a name: Project Apollo.[28] When Kennedy met with Nikita Khrushchev, the Premier of the Soviet Union in June 1961, he proposed making the Moon landing a joint project, but Khrushchev did not take up the offer.[29] Kennedy again proposed a joint expedition to the Moon in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly on September 20, 1963.[30] The idea of a joint Moon mission was abandoned after Kennedy's death.[31]

An early and crucial decision was choosing lunar orbit rendezvous over both direct ascent and Earth orbit rendezvous. A space rendezvous is an orbital maneuver in which two spacecraft navigate through space and meet up. In July 1962 NASA head James Webb announced that lunar orbit rendezvous would be used[32][33] and that the Apollo spacecraft would have three major parts: a command module (CM) with a cabin for the three astronauts, and the only part that returned to Earth; a service module (SM), which supported the command module with propulsion, electrical power, oxygen, and water; and a lunar module (LM) that had two stages—a descent stage for landing on the Moon, and an ascent stage to place the astronauts back into lunar orbit.[34] This design meant the spacecraft could be launched by a single Saturn V rocket that was then under development.[35]

Technologies and techniques required for Apollo were developed by Project Gemini.[36] The Apollo project was enabled by NASA's adoption of new advances in semiconductor electronic technology, including metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistors (MOSFETs) in the Interplanetary Monitoring Platform (IMP)[37][38] and silicon integrated circuit (IC) chips in the Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC).[39]

Project Apollo was abruptly halted by the Apollo 1 fire on January 27, 1967, in which astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger B. Chaffee died, and the subsequent investigation.[40] In October 1968, Apollo 7 evaluated the command module in Earth orbit,[41] and in December Apollo 8 tested it in lunar orbit.[42] In March 1969, Apollo 9 put the lunar module through its paces in Earth orbit,[43] and in May Apollo 10 conducted a "dress rehearsal" in lunar orbit. By July 1969, all was in readiness for Apollo 11 to take the final step onto the Moon.[44]

The Soviet Union competed with the US in the Space Race, but its early lead was lost through repeated failures in development of the N1 launcher, which was comparable to the Saturn V.[45] The Soviets tried to beat the US to return lunar material to the Earth by means of uncrewed probes. On July 13, three days before Apollo 11's launch, the Soviet Union launched Luna 15, which reached lunar orbit before Apollo 11. During descent, a malfunction caused Luna 15 to crash in Mare Crisium about two hours before Armstrong and Aldrin took off from the Moon's surface to begin their voyage home. The Nuffield Radio Astronomy Laboratories radio telescope in England recorded transmissions from Luna 15 during its descent, and these were released in July 2009 for the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11.[46]


Prime crew

Position Astronaut
Commander Neil A. Armstrong
Second and last spaceflight
Command Module Pilot Michael Collins
Second and last spaceflight
Lunar Module Pilot Edwin "Buzz" E. Aldrin Jr.
Second and last spaceflight

The initial crew assignment of Commander Neil Armstrong, Command Module Pilot (CMP) Jim Lovell, and Lunar Module Pilot (LMP) Buzz Aldrin on the backup crew for Apollo 9 was officially announced on November 20, 1967.[47] Lovell and Aldrin had previously flown together as the crew of Gemini 12. Due to design and manufacturing delays in the LM, Apollo 8 and Apollo 9 swapped prime and backup crews, and Armstrong's crew became the backup for Apollo 8. Based on the normal crew rotation scheme, Armstrong was then expected to command Apollo 11.[48]

There would be one change. Michael Collins, the CMP on the Apollo 8 crew, began experiencing trouble with his legs. Doctors diagnosed the problem as a bony growth between his fifth and sixth vertebrae, requiring surgery.[49] Lovell took his place on the Apollo 8 crew, and when Collins recovered he joined Armstrong's crew as CMP. In the meantime, Fred Haise filled in as backup LMP, and Aldrin as backup CMP for Apollo 8.[50] Apollo 11 was the second American mission where all the crew members had prior spaceflight experience,[51] the first being Apollo 10.[52] The next was STS-26 in 1988.[51]

Deke Slayton gave Armstrong the option to replace Aldrin with Lovell, since some thought Aldrin was difficult to work with. Armstrong had no issues working with Aldrin, but thought it over for a day before declining. He thought Lovell deserved to command his own mission (eventually Apollo 13).[53]

The Apollo 11 prime crew had none of the close cheerful camaraderie characterized by that of Apollo 12. Instead they forged an amiable working relationship. Armstrong in particular was notoriously aloof, but Collins, who considered himself a loner, confessed to rebuffing Aldrin's attempts to create a more personal relationship.[54] Aldrin and Collins described the crew as "amiable strangers".[55] Armstrong did not agree with the assessment, and said "... all the crews I was on worked very well together."[55]

Backup crew

Position Astronaut
Commander James A. Lovell Jr.
Command Module Pilot William A. Anders
Lunar Module Pilot Fred W. Haise Jr.

The backup crew consisted of Lovell as Commander, William Anders as CMP, and Haise as LMP. Anders had flown with Lovell on Apollo 8.[51] In early 1969, he accepted a job with the National Aeronautics and Space Council effective August 1969, and announced he would retire as an astronaut at that time. Ken Mattingly was moved from the support crew into parallel training with Anders as backup CMP in case Apollo 11 was delayed past its intended July launch date, at which point Anders would be unavailable. Lovell, Haise, and Mattingly were later assigned as the prime crew of Apollo 13.[56]

Support crew

During Projects Mercury and Gemini, each mission had a prime and a backup crew. For Apollo, a third crew of astronauts was added, known as the support crew. The support crew maintained the flight plan, checklists and mission ground rules, and ensured the prime and backup crews were apprised of changes. They developed procedures, especially those for emergency situations, so these were ready for when the prime and backup crews came to train in the simulators, allowing them to concentrate on practicing and mastering them.[57] For Apollo 11, the support crew consisted of Ken Mattingly, Ronald Evans and Bill Pogue.[58]

Capsule communicators

CAPCOM Charles Duke (left), with backup crewmen Jim Lovell and Fred Haise listening in during Apollo 11's descent

The capsule communicator (CAPCOM) was an astronaut at the Mission Control Center in Houston, Texas, who was the only person who communicated directly with the flight crew.[59] For Apollo 11, the CAPCOMs were: Charles Duke, Ronald Evans, Bruce McCandless II, James Lovell, William Anders, Ken Mattingly, Fred Haise, Don L. Lind, Owen K. Garriott and Harrison Schmitt.[58]

Flight directors

The flight directors for this mission were:[60][61][62][63][64][65]

Name Shift Team Activities
Clifford E. Charlesworth 1 Green Launch and extravehicular activity (EVA)
Gerald D. Griffin 1 Gold Backup for shift 1
Gene Kranz 2 White Lunar landing
Glynn Lunney 3 Black Lunar ascent
Milton Windler 4 Maroon Planning

Other key personnel

Other key personnel who played important roles in the Apollo 11 mission include the following.[66]

Name Activities
Farouk El-Baz Geologist, studied geology of the Moon, identified landing locations, trained pilots
Kurt Debus Rocket scientist, supervised construction of launch pads and infrastructure
Jamye Flowers Secretary for astronauts
Eleanor Foraker Tailor who designed space suits
Jack Garman Computer engineer and technician
Eldon C. Hall Apollo Guidance Computer hardware designer
Margaret Hamilton Onboard flight computer software engineer
John Houbolt Route planner
Gene Shoemaker Geologist who trained astronauts in field geology
Bill Tindall Coordinated mission techniques



Apollo 11 insignia

The Apollo 11 mission emblem was designed by Collins, who wanted a symbol for "peaceful lunar landing by the United States". At Lovell's suggestion, he chose the bald eagle, the national bird of the United States, as the symbol. Tom Wilson, a simulator instructor, suggested an olive branch in its beak to represent their peaceful mission. Collins added a lunar background with the Earth in the distance. The sunlight in the image was coming from the wrong direction; the shadow should have been in the lower part of the Earth instead of the left. Aldrin, Armstrong and Collins decided the Eagle and the Moon would be in their natural colors, and decided on a blue and gold border. Armstrong was concerned that "eleven" would not be understood by non-English speakers, so they went with "Apollo 11",[67] and they decided not to put their names on the patch, so it would "be representative of everyone who had worked toward a lunar landing".[68]

An illustrator at the MSC did the artwork, which was then sent off to NASA officials for approval.[67] The design was rejected. Bob Gilruth, the director of the MSC felt the talons of the eagle looked "too warlike".[69] After some discussion, the olive branch was moved to the talons.[69] When the Eisenhower dollar coin was released in 1971, the patch design provided the eagle for its reverse side.[70] The design was also used for the smaller Susan B. Anthony dollar unveiled in 1979.[71]

Call signs

After the crew of Apollo 10 named their spacecraft Charlie Brown and Snoopy, assistant manager for public affairs Julian Scheer wrote to George M. Low, the Manager of the Apollo Spacecraft Program Office at the Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC), to suggest the Apollo 11 crew be less flippant in naming their craft. The name Snowcone was used for the CM and Haystack was used for the LM in both internal and external communications during early mission planning.[72]

The LM was named Eagle after the motif which was featured prominently on the mission insignia. At Scheer's suggestion, the CM was named Columbia after Columbiad, the giant cannon that launched a spacecraft (also from Florida) in Jules Verne's 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon. It also referenced Columbia, a historical name of the United States. [73][74] In Collins' 1976 book, he said Columbia was in reference to Christopher Columbus.[75]


see caption
Apollo 11 space-flown silver Robbins medallion

The astronauts had personal preference kits (PPKs), small bags containing personal items of significance they wanted to take with them on the mission.[76] Five 0.5-pound (0.23 kg) PPKs were carried on Apollo 11: three (one for each astronaut) were stowed on Columbia before launch, and two on Eagle.[77]

Neil Armstrong's LM PPK contained a piece of wood from the Wright brothers' 1903 Wright Flyer's left propeller and a piece of fabric from its wing,[78] along with a diamond-studded astronaut pin originally given to Slayton by the widows of the Apollo 1 crew. This pin had been intended to be flown on that mission and given to Slayton afterwards, but following the disastrous launch pad fire and subsequent funerals, the widows gave the pin to Slayton. Armstrong took it with him on Apollo 11.[79]

Site selection

Map of Moon showing prospective sites for Apollo 11. Site 2 was chosen.
1 white, blue rounded rectangle.svg
2 white, blue rounded rectangle.svg
3 white, blue rounded rectangle.svg
4 white, blue rounded rectangle.svg
5 white, blue rounded rectangle.svg
Map of Moon showing prospective sites for Apollo 11. Site 2 was chosen.

NASA's Apollo Site Selection Board announced five potential landing sites on February 8, 1968. These were the result of two years' worth of studies based on high-resolution photography of the lunar surface by the five uncrewed probes of the Lunar Orbiter program and information about surface conditions provided by the Surveyor program.[80] The best Earth-bound telescopes could not resolve features with the resolution Project Apollo required.[81] The landing site had to be close to the lunar equator to minimize the amount of propellant required, clear of obstacles to minimize maneuvering, and flat to simplify the task of the landing radar. Scientific value was not a consideration.[82]

Areas that appeared promising on photographs taken on Earth were often found to be totally unacceptable. The original requirement that the site be free of craters had to be relaxed, as no such site was found.[83] Five sites were considered: Sites 1 and 2 were in the Sea of Tranquility (Mare Tranquilitatis); Site 3 was in the Central Bay (Sinus Medii); and Sites 4 and 5 were in the Ocean of Storms (Oceanus Procellarum).[80] The final site selection was based on seven criteria:

  • The site needed to be smooth, with relatively few craters;
  • with approach paths free of large hills, tall cliffs or deep craters that might confuse the landing radar and cause it to issue incorrect readings;
  • reachable with a minimum amount of propellant;
  • allowing for delays in the launch countdown;
  • providing the Apollo spacecraft with a free-return trajectory, one that would allow it to coast around the Moon and safely return to Earth without requiring any engine firings should a problem arise on the way to the Moon;
  • with good visibility during the landing approach, meaning the Sun would be between 7 and 20 degrees behind the LM; and
  • a general slope of less than two degrees in the landing area.[80]

The requirement for the Sun angle was particularly restrictive, limiting the launch date to one day per month.[80] A landing just after dawn was chosen to limit the temperature extremes the astronauts would experience.[84] The Apollo Site Selection Board selected Site 2, with Sites 3 and 5 as backups in the event of the launch being delayed. In May 1969, Apollo 10's lunar module flew to within 15 kilometers (9.3 mi) of Site 2, and reported it was acceptable.[85][86]

First-step decision

During the first press conference after the Apollo 11 crew was announced, the first question was, "Which one of you gentlemen will be the first man to step onto the lunar surface?"[87][88] Slayton told the reporter it had not been decided, and Armstrong added that it was "not based on individual desire".[87]

One of the first versions of the egress checklist had the lunar module pilot exit the spacecraft before the commander, which matched what had been done on Gemini missions,[89] where the commander had never performed the spacewalk.[90] Reporters wrote in early 1969 that Aldrin would be the first man to walk on the Moon, and Associate Administrator George Mueller told reporters he would be first as well. Aldrin heard that Armstrong would be the first because Armstrong was a civilian, which made Aldrin livid. Aldrin attempted to persuade other lunar module pilots he should be first, but they responded cynically about what they perceived as a lobbying campaign. Attempting to stem interdepartmental conflict, Slayton told Aldrin that Armstrong would be first since he was the commander. The decision was announced in a press conference on April 14, 1969.[91]

For decades, Aldrin believed the final decision was largely driven by the lunar module's hatch location. Because the astronauts had their spacesuits on and the spacecraft was so small, maneuvering to exit the spacecraft was difficult. The crew tried a simulation in which Aldrin left the spacecraft first, but he damaged the simulator while attempting to egress. While this was enough for mission planners to make their decision, Aldrin and Armstrong were left in the dark on the decision until late spring.[92] Slayton told Armstrong the plan was to have him leave the spacecraft first, if he agreed. Armstrong said, "Yes, that's the way to do it."[93]

The media accused Armstrong of exercising his commander's prerogative to exit the spacecraft first.[94] Chris Kraft revealed in his 2001 autobiography that a meeting occurred between Gilruth, Slayton, Low, and himself to make sure Aldrin would not be the first to walk on the Moon. They argued that the first person to walk on the Moon should be like Charles Lindbergh, a calm and quiet person. They made the decision to change the flight plan so the commander was the first to egress from the spacecraft.[95]


Saturn V SA-506, the rocket carrying the Apollo 11 spacecraft, moves out of the Vehicle Assembly Building towards Launch Complex 39

The ascent stage of lunar module LM-5 arrived at the Kennedy Space Center on January 8, 1969, followed by the descent stage four days later, and Command and Service Module CM-107 on January 23.[3] There were several differences between LM-5 and Apollo 10's LM-4; LM-5 had a VHF radio antenna to facilitate communication with the astronauts during their EVA on the lunar surface; a lighter ascent engine; more thermal protection on the landing gear; and a package of scientific experiments known as the Early Apollo Scientific Experiments Package (EASEP). The only change in the configuration of the command module was the removal of some insulation from the forward hatch.[96][97] The command and service modules were mated on January 29, and moved from the Operations and Checkout Building to the Vehicle Assembly Building on April 14.[3]

The S-IVB third stage of Saturn V AS-506 had arrived on January 18, followed by the S-II second stage on February 6, S-IC first stage on February 20, and the Saturn V Instrument Unit on February 27. At 1230 on May 20, the 5,443-tonne (5,357-long-ton; 6,000-short-ton) assembly departed the Vehicle Assembly Building atop the crawler-transporter, bound for Launch Pad 39A, part of Launch Complex 39, while Apollo 10 was still on its way to the Moon. A countdown test commenced on June 26, and concluded on July 2. The launch complex was floodlit on the night of July 15, when the crawler-transporter carried the mobile service structure back to its parking area.[3] In the early hours of the morning, the fuel tanks of the S-II and S-IVB stages were filled with liquid hydrogen.[98] Fueling was completed by three hours before launch.[99] Launch operations were partly automated, with 43 programs written in the ATOLL programming language.[100]

Slayton roused the crew shortly after 0400, and they showered, shaved, and had the traditional pre-flight breakfast of steak and eggs with Slayton and the backup crew. They then donned their space suits and began breathing pure oxygen. At 0630, they headed out to Launch Complex 39.[101] Haise entered Columbia about three hours and ten minutes before launch time. Along with a technician, he helped Armstrong into the left hand couch at 06:54. Five minutes later, Collins joined him, taking up his position on the right hand couch. Finally, Aldrin entered, taking the center couch.[99] Haise left around two hours and ten minutes before launch.[102] The closeout crew sealed the hatch, and the cabin was purged and pressurized. The closeout crew then left the launch complex about an hour before launch time. The countdown became automated at three minutes and twenty seconds before launch time.[99] Over 450 personnel were at the consoles in the firing room.[98]


Launch and flight to lunar orbit

The Apollo 11 Saturn V space vehicle lifts off with Astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr. at 9:32 a.m. EDT July 16, 1969, from Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39A.

An estimated one million spectators watched the launch of Apollo 11 from the highways and beaches in the vicinity of the launch site. Dignitaries included the Chief of Staff of the United States Army, General William Westmoreland, four cabinet members, 19 state governors, 40 mayors, 60 ambassadors and 200 congressmen. Vice President Spiro Agnew viewed the launch with the former president, Lyndon B. Johnson and his wife Lady Bird Johnson.[98][103] Around 3,500 media representatives were present.[104] About two-thirds were from the United States; the rest came from 55 other countries. The launch was televised live in 33 countries, with an estimated 25 million viewers in the United States alone. Millions more around the world listened to radio broadcasts.[103][98] President Richard Nixon viewed the launch from his office in the White House with his NASA liaison officer, Apollo astronaut Frank Borman.[105]

Saturn V AS-506 launched Apollo 11 on July 16, 1969, at 13:32:00 UTC (9:32:00 EDT).[3] At 13.2 seconds into the flight, the launch vehicle began to roll into its flight azimuth of 72.058°. Full shutdown of the first-stage engines occurred about 2 minutes and 42 seconds into the mission, followed by separation of the S-IC and ignition of the S-II engines. The second stage engines then cut off and separated at about 9 minutes and 8 seconds, allowing the first ignition of the S-IVB engine a few seconds later.[5]

Apollo 11 entered Earth orbit at an altitude of 100.4 nautical miles (185.9 km) by 98.9 nautical miles (183.2 km), twelve minutes into its flight. After one and a half orbits, a second ignition of the S-IVB engine pushed the spacecraft onto its trajectory toward the Moon with the trans-lunar injection (TLI) burn at 16:22:13 UTC. About 30 minutes later, with Collins in the left seat and at the controls, the transposition, docking, and extraction maneuver was performed. This involved separating Columbia from the spent S-IVB stage, turning around, and docking with Eagle still attached to the stage. After the LM was extracted, the combined spacecraft headed for the Moon, while the rocket stage flew on a trajectory past the Moon.[106][5] This was done to avoid the third stage colliding with the spacecraft, the Earth, or the Moon. A slingshot effect from passing around the Moon threw it into an orbit around the Sun.[107]

On July 19 at 17:21:50 UTC, Apollo 11 passed behind the Moon and fired its service propulsion engine to enter lunar orbit.[5][108] In the thirty orbits that followed, the crew saw passing views of their landing site in the southern Sea of Tranquility about 12 miles (19 km) southwest of the crater Sabine D. The site was selected in part because it had been characterized as relatively flat and smooth by the automated Ranger 8 and Surveyor 5 landers and the Lunar Orbiter mapping spacecraft and unlikely to present major landing or EVA challenges.[109] It lay about 25 kilometers (16 mi) southeast of the Surveyor 5 landing site, and 68 kilometers (42 mi) southwest of Ranger 8's crash site.[110]

Lunar descent

The top of the silvery command module is seen over a grey, cratered lunar surface
Columbia in lunar orbit, photographed from Eagle

At 12:52:00 UTC on July 20, Aldrin and Armstrong entered Eagle, and began the final preparations for lunar descent.[5] At 17:44:00 Eagle separated from Columbia.[10] Collins, alone aboard Columbia, inspected Eagle as it pirouetted before him to ensure the craft was not damaged, and that the landing gear was correctly deployed.[111][112] Armstrong exclaimed: "The Eagle has wings!"[112]

As the descent began, Armstrong and Aldrin found themselves passing landmarks on the surface two or three seconds early, and reported that they were "long"; they would land miles west of their target point. Eagle was traveling too fast. The problem could have been mascons—concentrations of high mass that could have altered the trajectory. Flight Director Gene Kranz speculated that it could have resulted from extra air pressure in the docking tunnel. Or it could have been the result of Eagle's pirouette maneuver.[113][114]

Five minutes into the descent burn, and 6,000 feet (1,800 m) above the surface of the Moon, the LM guidance computer (LGC) distracted the crew with the first of several unexpected 1201 and 1202 program alarms. Inside Mission Control Center, computer engineer Jack Garman told Guidance Officer Steve Bales it was safe to continue the descent, and this was relayed to the crew. The program alarms indicated "executive overflows", meaning the guidance computer could not complete all its tasks in real time and had to postpone some of them.[115][116] Margaret Hamilton, the Director of Apollo Flight Computer Programming at the MIT Charles Stark Draper Laboratory later recalled:

Eagle in lunar orbit photographed from Columbia

To blame the computer for the Apollo 11 problems is like blaming the person who spots a fire and calls the fire department. Actually, the computer was programmed to do more than recognize error conditions. A complete set of recovery programs was incorporated into the software. The software's action, in this case, was to eliminate lower priority tasks and re-establish the more important ones. The computer, rather than almost forcing an abort, prevented an abort. If the computer hadn't recognized this problem and taken recovery action, I doubt if Apollo 11 would have been the successful Moon landing it was.[117]

During the mission, the cause was diagnosed as the rendezvous radar switch being in the wrong position, causing the computer to process data from both the rendezvous and landing radars at the same time.[118][119] Software engineer Don Eyles concluded in a 2005 Guidance and Control Conference paper that the problem was due to a hardware design bug previously seen during testing of the first uncrewed LM in Apollo 5. Having the rendezvous radar on (so it was warmed up in case of an emergency landing abort) should have been irrelevant to the computer, but an electrical phasing mismatch between two parts of the rendezvous radar system could cause the stationary antenna to appear to the computer as dithering back and forth between two positions, depending upon how the hardware randomly powered up. The extra spurious cycle stealing, as the rendezvous radar updated an involuntary counter, caused the computer alarms.[120]


Landing site relative to West crater

When Armstrong again looked outside, he saw that the computer's landing target was in a boulder-strewn area just north and east of a 300-foot-diameter (91 m) crater (later determined to be West crater), so he took semi-automatic control.[121][122] Armstrong considered landing short of the boulder field so they could collect geological samples from it, but could not since their horizontal velocity was too high. Throughout the descent, Aldrin called out navigation data to Armstrong, who was busy piloting Eagle. Now 107 feet (33 m) above the surface, Armstrong knew their propellant supply was dwindling and was determined to land at the first possible landing site.[123]

Armstrong found a clear patch of ground and maneuvered the spacecraft towards it. As he got closer, now 250 feet (76 m) above the surface, he discovered his new landing site had a crater in it. He cleared the crater and found another patch of level ground. They were now 100 feet (30 m) from the surface, with only 90 seconds of propellant remaining. Lunar dust kicked up by the LM's engine began to impair his ability to determine the spacecraft's motion. Some large rocks jutted out of the dust cloud, and Armstrong focused on them during his descent so he could determine the spacecraft's speed.[124]

A light informed Aldrin that at least one of the 67-inch (170 cm) probes hanging from Eagle's footpads had touched the surface a few moments before the landing and he said: "Contact light!" Armstrong was supposed to immediately shut the engine down, as the engineers suspected the pressure caused by the engine's own exhaust reflecting off the lunar surface could make it explode, but he forgot. Three seconds later, Eagle landed and Armstrong shut the engine down.[125] Aldrin immediately said "Okay, engine stop. ACA—out of detent." Armstrong acknowledged: "Out of detent. Auto." Aldrin continued: "Mode control—both auto. Descent engine command override off. Engine arm—off. 413 is in."[126]

Landing on the Moon, July 20, 1969

ACA was the Attitude Control Assembly—the LM's control stick. Output went to the LGC to command the reaction control system (RCS) jets to fire. "Out of Detent" meant the stick had moved away from its centered position; it was spring-centered like the turn indicator in a car. LGC address 413 contained the variable that indicated the LM had landed.[7]

Eagle landed at 20:17:40 UTC on Sunday July 20 with 216 pounds (98 kg) of usable fuel remaining. Information available to the crew and mission controllers during the landing showed the LM had enough fuel for another 25 seconds of powered flight before an abort without touchdown would have become unsafe,[7][127] but post-mission analysis showed that the real figure was probably closer to 50 seconds.[128] Apollo 11 landed with less fuel than most subsequent missions, and the astronauts encountered a premature low fuel warning. This was later found to be the result of greater propellant 'slosh' than expected, uncovering a fuel sensor. On subsequent missions, extra anti-slosh baffles were added to the tanks to prevent this.[7]

Armstrong acknowledged Aldrin's completion of the post landing checklist with "Engine arm is off", before responding to the CAPCOM, Charles Duke, with the words, "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed." Armstrong's unrehearsed change of call sign from "Eagle" to "Tranquility Base" emphasized to listeners that landing was complete and successful.[129] Duke mispronounced his reply as he expressed the relief at Mission Control: "Roger, Twan—Tranquility, we copy you on the ground. You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We're breathing again. Thanks a lot."[7][130]

3-D view from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) of Apollo 11 landing site

Two and a half hours after landing, before preparations began for the EVA, Aldrin radioed to Earth:

This is the LM pilot. I'd like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his or her own way.[131]

He then took communion privately. At this time NASA was still fighting a lawsuit brought by atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair (who had objected to the Apollo 8 crew reading from the Book of Genesis) demanding that their astronauts refrain from broadcasting religious activities while in space. As such, Aldrin chose to refrain from directly mentioning taking communion on the Moon. Aldrin was an elder at the Webster Presbyterian Church, and his communion kit was prepared by the pastor of the church, Dean Woodruff. Webster Presbyterian possesses the chalice used on the Moon and commemorates the event each year on the Sunday closest to July 20.[132] The schedule for the mission called for the astronauts to follow the landing with a five-hour sleep period, but they chose to begin preparations for the EVA early, thinking they would be unable to sleep.[133]

Lunar surface operations

A photograph of Neil Armstrong taken by Buzz Aldrin. This is one of the few photographs of Armstrong on the lunar surface; most of the time he held the camera.

Preparations for Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to walk on the Moon began at 23:43.[10] These took longer than expected; three and a half hours instead of two.[134] During training on Earth, everything required had been neatly laid out in advance, but on the Moon the cabin contained a large number of other items as well, such as checklists, food packets, and tools.[135] Six hours and thirty-nine minutes after landing Armstrong and Aldrin were ready to go outside, and Eagle was depressurized.[136]

Eagle's hatch was opened at 02:39:33.[10] Armstrong initially had some difficulties squeezing through the hatch with his portable life support system (PLSS).[134] Some of the highest heart rates recorded from Apollo astronauts occurred during LM egress and ingress.[137] At 02:51 Armstrong began his descent to the lunar surface. The remote control unit on his chest kept him from seeing his feet. Climbing down the nine-rung ladder, Armstrong pulled a D-ring to deploy the modular equipment stowage assembly (MESA) folded against Eagle's side and activate the TV camera.[138][12]

Apollo 11 used slow-scan television (TV) incompatible with broadcast TV, so it was displayed on a special monitor, and a conventional TV camera viewed this monitor, significantly reducing the quality of the picture.[139] The signal was received at Goldstone in the United States, but with better fidelity by Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station near Canberra in Australia. Minutes later the feed was switched to the more sensitive Parkes radio telescope in Australia.[140] Despite some technical and weather difficulties, ghostly black and white images of the first lunar EVA were received and broadcast to at least 600 million people on Earth.[140] Copies of this video in broadcast format were saved and are widely available, but recordings of the original slow scan source transmission from the lunar surface were likely destroyed during routine magnetic tape re-use at NASA.[139]

The plaque left on the ladder of Eagle

While still on the ladder, Armstrong uncovered a plaque mounted on the LM descent stage bearing two drawings of Earth (of the Western and Eastern Hemispheres), an inscription, and signatures of the astronauts and President Nixon. The inscription read:

Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon July 1969, A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.[12]

At the behest of the Nixon administration to add a reference to God, NASA included the vague date as a reason to include A.D., which stands for Anno Domini, "in the year of our Lord" (although it should have been placed before the year, not after).[141]

After describing the surface dust as "very fine-grained" and "almost like a powder",[12] at 02:56:15,[142] six and a half hours after landing, Armstrong stepped off Eagle's footpad and declared: "That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind."[a][143][144]

Armstrong intended to say "That's one small step for a man", but the word "a" is not audible in the transmission, and thus was not initially reported by most observers of the live broadcast. When later asked about his quote, Armstrong said he believed he said "for a man", and subsequent printed versions of the quote included the "a" in square brackets. One explanation for the absence may be that his accent caused him to slur the words "for a" together; another is the intermittent nature of the audio and video links to Earth, partly because of storms near Parkes Observatory. More recent digital analysis of the tape claims to reveal the "a" may have been spoken but obscured by static.[145][146][147]

About seven minutes after stepping onto the Moon's surface, Armstrong collected a contingency soil sample using a sample bag on a stick. He then folded the bag and tucked it into a pocket on his right thigh. This was to guarantee there would be some lunar soil brought back in case an emergency required the astronauts to abandon the EVA and return to the LM.[148] Twelve minutes after the sample was collected,[143] he removed the TV camera from the MESA and made a panoramic sweep, then mounted it on a tripod.[134] The TV camera cable remained partly coiled and presented a tripping hazard throughout the EVA. Still photography was accomplished with a Hasselblad camera which could be operated hand held or mounted on Armstrong's Apollo space suit.[149] Aldrin joined Armstrong on the surface. He described the view with the simple phrase: "Magnificent desolation."[12]

Armstrong said moving in the lunar gravity, one-sixth of Earth's, was "even perhaps easier than the simulations ... It's absolutely no trouble to walk around."[12] Aldrin joined him on the surface and tested methods for moving around, including two-footed kangaroo hops. The PLSS backpack created a tendency to tip backward, but neither astronaut had serious problems maintaining balance. Loping became the preferred method of movement. The astronauts reported that they needed to plan their movements six or seven steps ahead. The fine soil was quite slippery. Aldrin remarked that moving from sunlight into Eagle's shadow produced no temperature change inside the suit, but the helmet was warmer in sunlight, so he felt cooler in shadow.[12] The MESA failed to provide a stable work platform and was in shadow, slowing work somewhat. As they worked, the moonwalkers kicked up gray dust which soiled the outer part of their suits.[149]

Aldrin salutes the deployed United States flag on the lunar surface

The astronauts planted the Lunar Flag Assembly containing a flag of the United States on the lunar surface, in clear view of the TV camera. Aldrin remembered, "Of all the jobs I had to do on the Moon the one I wanted to go the smoothest was the flag raising."[150] But the astronauts struggled with the telescoping rod and could only jam the pole a couple of inches (5 cm) into the hard lunar surface. Aldrin was afraid it might topple in front of TV viewers. But he gave "a crisp West Point salute".[150] Before Aldrin could take a photo of Armstrong with the flag, President Richard Nixon spoke to them through a telephone-radio transmission which Nixon called "the most historic phone call ever made from the White House."[151] Nixon originally had a long speech prepared to read during the phone call, but Frank Borman, who was at the White House as a NASA liaison during Apollo 11, convinced Nixon to keep his words brief.[152]

Nixon: Hello, Neil and Buzz. I'm talking to you by telephone from the Oval Room at the White House. And this certainly has to be the most historic telephone call ever made. I just can't tell you how proud we all are of what you've done. For every American, this has to be the proudest day of our lives. And for people all over the world, I am sure they too join with Americans in recognizing what an immense feat this is. Because of what you have done, the heavens have become a part of man's world. And as you talk to us from the Sea of Tranquility, it inspires us to redouble our efforts to bring peace and tranquility to Earth. For one priceless moment in the whole history of man, all the people on this Earth are truly one: one in their pride in what you have done, and one in our prayers that you will return safely to Earth. Armstrong: Thank you, Mr. President. It's a great honor and privilege for us to be here, representing not only the United States, but men of peace of all nations, and with interest and curiosity, and men with a vision for the future. It's an honor for us to be able to participate here today.[153]

Aldrin's bootprint; part of an experiment to test the properties of the lunar regolith

They deployed the EASEP, which included a passive seismic experiment package used to measure moonquakes and a retroreflector array used for the lunar laser ranging experiment.[154] Then Armstrong walked 196 feet (60 m) from the LM to snap photos at the rim of Little West Crater while Aldrin collected two core samples. He used the geologist's hammer to pound in the tubes—the only time the hammer was used on Apollo 11—but was unable to penetrate more than 6 inches (15 cm) deep. The astronauts then collected rock samples using scoops and tongs on extension handles. Many of the surface activities took longer than expected, so they had to stop documenting sample collection halfway through the allotted 34 minutes. Aldrin shoveled 6 kilograms (13 lb) of soil into the box of rocks in order to pack them in tightly.[155] Two types of rocks were found in the geological samples: basalt and breccia.[156] Three new minerals were discovered in the rock samples collected by the astronauts: armalcolite, tranquillityite, and pyroxferroite. Armalcolite was named after Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins. All have subsequently been found on Earth.[157]

Mission Control used a coded phrase to warn Armstrong his metabolic rates were high, and that he should slow down. He was moving rapidly from task to task as time ran out. As metabolic rates remained generally lower than expected for both astronauts throughout the walk, Mission Control granted the astronauts a 15-minute extension.[154] In a 2010 interview, Armstrong explained that NASA limited the first moonwalk's time and distance because there was no empirical proof of how much cooling water the astronauts' PLSS backpacks would consume to handle their body heat generation while working on the Moon.[158]

Lunar ascent

Aldrin entered Eagle first. With some difficulty the astronauts lifted film and two sample boxes containing 21.55 kilograms (47.5 lb) of lunar surface material to the LM hatch using a flat cable pulley device called the Lunar Equipment Conveyor (LEC). This proved to be an inefficient tool, and later missions preferred to carry equipment and samples up to the LM by hand.[134] Armstrong reminded Aldrin of a bag of memorial items in his sleeve pocket, and Aldrin tossed the bag down. Armstrong then jumped onto the ladder's third rung, and climbed into the LM. After transferring to LM life support, the explorers lightened the ascent stage for the return to lunar orbit by tossing out their PLSS backpacks, lunar overshoes, an empty Hasselblad camera, and other equipment. The hatch was closed again at 05:11:13. They then pressurized the LM and settled down to sleep.[159]

Aldrin next to the Passive Seismic Experiment Package with Eagle in the background

Presidential speech writer William Safire had prepared an In Event of Moon Disaster announcement for Nixon to read in the event the Apollo 11 astronauts were stranded on the Moon.[160] The remarks were in a memo from Safire to Nixon's White House Chief of Staff H. R. Haldeman, in which Safire suggested a protocol the administration might follow in reaction to such a disaster.[161][162] According to the plan, Mission Control would "close down communications" with the LM, and a clergyman would "commend their souls to the deepest of the deep" in a public ritual likened to burial at sea. The last line of the prepared text contained an allusion to Rupert Brooke's First World War poem, "The Soldier".[162]

While moving inside the cabin, Aldrin accidentally damaged the circuit breaker that would arm the main engine for lift off from the Moon. There was a concern this would prevent firing the engine, stranding them on the Moon. A felt-tip pen was sufficient to activate the switch; had this not worked, the LM circuitry could have been reconfigured to allow firing the ascent engine.[159]

After more than ​21 12 hours on the lunar surface, in addition to the scientific instruments, the astronauts left behind: an Apollo 1 mission patch in memory of astronauts Roger Chaffee, Gus Grissom, and Edward White, who died when their command module caught fire during a test in January 1967; two memorial medals of Soviet cosmonauts Vladimir Komarov and Yuri Gagarin, who died in 1967 and 1968 respectively; a memorial bag containing a gold replica of an olive branch as a traditional symbol of peace; and a silicon message disk carrying the goodwill statements by Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon along with messages from leaders of 73 countries around the world.[163] The disk also carries a listing of the leadership of the US Congress, a listing of members of the four committees of the House and Senate responsible for the NASA legislation, and the names of NASA's past and present top management.[164]

Map showing landing site and photos taken

After about seven hours of rest, the crew was awakened by Houston to prepare for the return flight. Two and a half hours later, at 17:54:00 UTC, they lifted off in Eagle's ascent stage to rejoin Collins aboard Columbia in lunar orbit.[143] Film taken from the LM ascent stage upon liftoff from the Moon reveals the American flag, planted some 25 feet (8 m) from the descent stage, whipping violently in the exhaust of the ascent stage engine. Aldrin looked up in time to witness the flag topple: "The ascent stage of the LM separated ... I was concentrating on the computers, and Neil was studying the attitude indicator, but I looked up long enough to see the flag fall over."[165] Subsequent Apollo missions planted their flags farther from the LM.[166]

Columbia in lunar orbit

During his day flying solo around the Moon, Collins never felt lonely. Although it has been said "not since Adam has any human known such solitude",[167] Collins felt very much a part of the mission. In his autobiography he wrote: "this venture has been structured for three men, and I consider my third to be as necessary as either of the other two".[167] In the 48 minutes of each orbit when he was out of radio contact with the Earth while Columbia passed round the far side of the Moon, the feeling he reported was not fear or loneliness, but rather "awareness, anticipation, satisfaction, confidence, almost exultation".[167]

One of Collins' first tasks was to identify the lunar module on the ground. To give Collins an idea where to look, Mission Control radioed that they believed the lunar module landed about four miles off target. Each time he passed over the suspected lunar landing site, he tried in vain to find the module. On his first orbits on the back side of the Moon, Collins performed maintenance activities such as dumping excess water produced by the fuel cells and preparing the cabin for Armstrong and Aldrin to return.[168]

Just before he reached the dark side on the third orbit, Mission Control informed Collins there was a problem with the temperature of the coolant. If it became too cold, parts of Columbia might freeze. Mission Control advised him to assume manual control and implement Environmental Control System Malfunction Procedure 17. Instead, Collins flicked the switch on the system from automatic to manual and back to automatic again, and carried on with normal housekeeping chores, while keeping an eye on the temperature. When Columbia came back around to the near side of the Moon again, he was able to report that the problem had been resolved. For the next couple of orbits, he described his time on the back side of the Moon as "relaxing". After Aldrin and Armstrong completed their EVA, Collins slept so he could be rested for the rendezvous. While the flight plan called for Eagle to meet up with Columbia, Collins was prepared for a contingency in which he would fly Columbia down to meet Eagle.[169]


Eagle's ascent stage approaching Columbia

Eagle rendezvoused with Columbia at 21:24 UTC on July 21, and the two docked at 21:35. Eagle's ascent stage was jettisoned into lunar orbit at 23:41.[6] Just before the Apollo 12 flight, it was noted that Eagle was still likely to be orbiting the Moon. Later NASA reports mentioned that Eagle's orbit had decayed, resulting in it impacting in an "uncertain location" on the lunar surface.[170]

On July 23, the last night before splashdown, the three astronauts made a television broadcast in which Collins commented:

 ... The Saturn V rocket which put us in orbit is an incredibly complicated piece of machinery, every piece of which worked flawlessly ... We have always had confidence that this equipment will work properly. All this is possible only through the blood, sweat, and tears of a number of people ... All you see is the three of us, but beneath the surface are thousands and thousands of others, and to all of those, I would like to say, "Thank you very much."[171]

Aldrin added:

This has been far more than three men on a mission to the Moon; more, still, than the efforts of a government and industry team; more, even, than the efforts of one nation. We feel that this stands as a symbol of the insatiable curiosity of all mankind to explore the unknown ... Personally, in reflecting on the events of the past several days, a verse from Psalms comes to mind. "When I consider the heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the Moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained; What is man that Thou art mindful of him?"[171][172]

Armstrong concluded:

The responsibility for this flight lies first with history and with the giants of science who have preceded this effort; next with the American people, who have, through their will, indicated their desire; next with four administrations and their Congresses, for implementing that will; and then, with the agency and industry teams that built our spacecraft, the Saturn, the Columbia, the Eagle, and the little EMU, the spacesuit and backpack that was our small spacecraft out on the lunar surface. We would like to give special thanks to all those Americans who built the spacecraft; who did the construction, design, the tests, and put their hearts and all their abilities into those craft. To those people tonight, we give a special thank you, and to all the other people that are listening and watching tonight, God bless you. Good night from Apollo 11."[171]

On the return to Earth, a bearing at the Guam tracking station failed, potentially preventing communication on the last segment of the Earth return. A regular repair was not possible in the available time but the station director, Charles Force, had his ten-year-old son Greg use his small hands to reach into the housing and pack it with grease. Greg was later thanked by Armstrong.[173]

Splashdown and quarantine

Columbia floats on the ocean as Navy divers assist in retrieving the astronauts

The aircraft carrier USS Hornet, under the command of Captain Carl J. Seiberlich,[174] was selected as the primary recovery ship (PRS) for Apollo 11 on June 5, replacing its sister ship, the LPH USS Princeton, which had recovered Apollo 10 on May 26. Hornet was then at her home port of Long Beach, California.[175] On reaching Pearl Harbor on July 5, Hornet embarked the Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King helicopters of HS-4, a unit which specialized in recovery of Apollo spacecraft, specialized divers of UDT Detachment Apollo, a 35-man NASA recovery team, and about 120 media representatives. To make room, most of Hornet's air wing was left behind in Long Beach. Special recovery equipment was also loaded, including a boilerplate command module used for training.[176]

On July 12, with Apollo 11 still on the launch pad, Hornet departed Pearl Harbor for the recovery area in the central Pacific,[177] in the vicinity of 10°36′N 172°24′E / 10.600°N 172.400°E / 10.600; 172.400.[178] A presidential party consisting of Nixon, Borman, Secretary of State William P. Rogers and National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger flew to Johnston Atoll on Air Force One, then to the command ship USS Arlington in Marine One. After a night on board, they would fly to Hornet in Marine One for a few hours of ceremonies. On arrival aboard Hornet, the party was greeted by the Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Command (CINCPAC), Admiral John S. McCain Jr., and NASA Administrator Thomas O. Paine, who flew to Hornet from Pago Pago in one of Hornet's carrier onboard delivery aircraft.[179]

Weather satellites were not yet common, but US Air Force Captain Hank Brandli had access to top secret spy satellite images. He realized that a storm front was headed for the Apollo recovery area. Poor visibility which could make locating the capsule difficult, and strong upper level winds which "would have ripped their parachutes to shreds" according to Brandli; posed a serious threat to the safety of the mission.[180] Brandli alerted Navy Captain Willard S. Houston Jr., the commander of the Fleet Weather Center at Pearl Harbor, who had the required security clearance. On their recommendation, Rear Admiral Donald C. Davis, commander of Manned Spaceflight Recovery Forces, Pacific, advised NASA to change the recovery area, each man risking their careers. A new location was selected 215 nautical miles (398 km) northeast.[181][182]

This altered the flight plan. A different sequence of computer programs was used, one never before attempted. In a conventional entry, P64 was followed by P67. For a skip-out re-entry, P65 and P66 were employed to handle the exit and entry parts of the skip. In this case, because they were extending the re-entry but not actually skipping out, P66 was not invoked and instead P65 led directly to P67. The crew were also warned they would not be in a full-lift (heads-down) attitude when they entered P67.[181] The first program's acceleration subjected the astronauts to 6.5 standard gravities (64 m/s2); the second, to 6.0 standard gravities (59 m/s2).[183]

Before dawn on July 24, Hornet launched four Sea King helicopters and three Grumman E-1 Tracers. Two of the E-1s were designated as "air boss" while the third acted as a communications relay aircraft. Two of the Sea Kings carried divers and recovery equipment. The third carried photographic equipment, and the fourth carried the decontamination swimmer and the flight surgeon.[184] At 16:44 UTC (05:44 local time) Columbia's drogue parachutes were deployed. This was observed by the helicopters. Seven minutes later Columbia struck the water forcefully 2,660 km (1,440 nmi) east of Wake Island, 380 km (210 nmi) south of Johnston Atoll, and 24 km (13 nmi) from Hornet,[6][181] at 13°19′N 169°9′W / 13.317°N 169.150°W / 13.317; -169.150.[185] 72 °F (22 °C) with 6 feet (1.8 m) seas and winds at 17 knots (31 km/h; 20 mph) from the east were reported under broken clouds at 1,500 feet (460 m) with visibility of 10 nautical miles (19 km; 12 mi) at the recovery site.[186] Reconnaissance aircraft flying to the original splashdown location reported the conditions Brandli and Houston had predicted.[187]

During splashdown, Columbia landed upside down but was righted within ten minutes by flotation bags activated by the astronauts.[188] A diver from the Navy helicopter hovering above attached a sea anchor to prevent it from drifting.[189] More divers attached flotation collars to stabilize the module and positioned rafts for astronaut extraction.[190]

The crew of Apollo 11 in quarantine after returning to Earth, visited by Richard Nixon

The divers then passed biological isolation garments (BIGs) to the astronauts, and assisted them into the life raft. The possibility of bringing back pathogens from the lunar surface was considered remote, but NASA took precautions at the recovery site. The astronauts were rubbed down with a sodium hypochlorite solution and Columbia wiped with Betadine to remove any lunar dust that might be present. The astronauts were winched on board the recovery helicopter. BIGs were worn until they reached isolation facilities on board Hornet. The raft containing decontamination materials was intentionally sunk.[188]

After touchdown on Hornet at 17:53 UTC, the helicopter was lowered by the elevator into the hangar bay, where the astronauts walked the 30 feet (9.1 m) to the Mobile Quarantine Facility (MQF), where they would begin the Earth-based portion of their 21 days of quarantine.[191] This practice would continue for two more Apollo missions, Apollo 12 and Apollo 14, before the Moon was proven to be barren of life, and the quarantine process dropped.[192][193] Nixon welcomed the astronauts back to Earth. He told them: "As a result of what you've done, the world has never been closer together before."[194]

After Nixon departed, Hornet was brought alongside the 5-short-ton (4.5 t) Columbia, which was lifted aboard by the ship's crane, placed on a dolly and moved next to the MQF. It was then attached to the MQF with a flexible tunnel, allowing the lunar samples, film, data tapes and other items to be removed. Hornet returned to Pearl Harbor, where the MQF was loaded onto a Lockheed C-141 Starlifter and airlifted to the Manned Spacecraft Center. The astronauts arrived at the Lunar Receiving Laboratory at 10:00 UTC on July 28. Columbia was taken to Ford Island for deactivation, and its pyrotechnics made safe. It was then taken to Hickham Air Force Base, from whence it was flown to Houston in a Douglas C-133 Cargomaster, reaching the Lunar Receiving Laboratory on July 30.[195]

In accordance with the Extra-Terrestrial Exposure Law, a set of regulations promulgated by NASA on July 16 to codify its quarantine protocol,[196] the astronauts continued in quarantine. After three weeks in confinement (first in the Apollo spacecraft, then in their trailer on Hornet, and finally in the Lunar Receiving Laboratory), the astronauts were given a clean bill of health.[197] On August 10, 1969, the Interagency Committee on Back Contamination met in Atlanta and lifted the quarantine on the astronauts, on those who had joined them in quarantine (NASA physician William Carpentier and MQF project engineer John Hirasaki),[198] and on Columbia itself. Loose equipment from the spacecraft remained in isolation until the lunar samples were released for study.[199]


Ticker tape parade in New York City

On August 13, the three astronauts rode in ticker-tape parades in their honor in New York and Chicago, with an estimated six million attendees.[200][201] On the same evening in Los Angeles there was an official state dinner to celebrate the flight, attended by members of Congress, 44 governors, the Chief Justice of the United States, and ambassadors from 83 nations at the Century Plaza Hotel. Nixon and Agnew honored each astronaut with a presentation of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.[200][202]

The three astronauts spoke before a joint session of Congress on September 16, 1969. They presented two US flags, one to the House of Representatives and the other to the Senate, that they had carried with them to the surface of the Moon.[203] The flag of American Samoa on Apollo 11 is on display at the Jean P. Haydon Museum in Pago Pago, the capital of American Samoa.[204]

This celebration began a 38-day world tour that brought the astronauts to 22 foreign countries and included visits with the leaders of many countries.[205] The crew toured from September 29 to November 5.[205][206][207] Many nations honored the first human Moon landing with special features in magazines or by issuing Apollo 11 commemorative postage stamps or coins.[208]


Cultural significance

Humans walking on the Moon and returning safely to Earth accomplished Kennedy's goal set eight years earlier. In Mission Control during the Apollo 11 landing, Kennedy's speech flashed on the screen, followed by the words "TASK ACCOMPLISHED, July 1969".[209] The success of Apollo 11 demonstrated the United States' technological superiority;[209] and with the success of Apollo 11, America had won the Space Race.[210][211]

New phrases permeated into the English language. "If they can send a man to the Moon, why can't they ...?" became a common saying following Apollo 11.[212] Armstrong's words on the lunar surface also spun off various parodies.[210]

While most people celebrated the accomplishment, disenfranchised Americans saw it as a symbol of the divide in America, evidenced by protesters outside of Kennedy Space Center the day before Apollo 11 launched.[213] This is not to say they were not awed by it. Ralph Abernathy, leading a protest march, was so captivated by the spectacle of the Apollo 11 launch that he forgot what he was going to say.[104] Racial and financial inequalities frustrated citizens who wondered why money spent on the Apollo program was not spent taking care of humans on Earth. A poem by Gil Scott-Heron called "Whitey on the Moon" illustrated the racial inequality in the United States that was highlighted by the Space Race.[210][214][215] The poem starts with:

A rat done bit my sister Nell.
(with Whitey on the moon)
Her face and arms began to swell.
(and Whitey's on the moon)
I can't pay no doctor bill.
(but Whitey's on the moon)
Ten years from now I'll be paying still.
(while Whitey's on the moon)[215]

Twenty percent of the world's population watched humans walk on the Moon for the first time. While Apollo 11 sparked the interest of the world, the follow-on Apollo missions did not hold the interest of the nation.[209] One possible explanation was the shift in complexity. Landing someone on the Moon was an easy goal to understand; lunar geology was too abstract for the average person. Another is that Kennedy's goal of landing humans on the Moon had already been accomplished.[216] A well-defined objective helped Project Apollo accomplish its goal, but after it was completed it was hard to justify continuing the lunar missions.[217][218]

While most Americans were proud of their nation's achievements in space exploration, only once during the late 1960s did the Gallup Poll indicate that a majority of Americans favored "doing more" in space as opposed to "doing less". By 1973, 59 percent of those polled favored cutting spending on space exploration. The Space Race had ended, and Cold War tensions were easing as the US and Soviet Union entered the era of détente. This was also a time when inflation was rising, which put pressure on the government to reduce spending. What saved the space program was that it was one of the few government programs that had achieved something great. Drastic cuts, warned Caspar Weinberger, the deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, might send a signal that "our best years are behind us".[219]

After the Apollo 11 mission, officials from the Soviet Union said landing humans on the Moon was dangerous and unnecessary. At the time the Soviet Union was attempting to retrieve lunar samples robotically. The Soviets publicly denied there was a race to the Moon, and indicated they were not making an attempt.[220] Mstislav Keldysh said in July 1969, "We are concentrating wholly on the creation of large satellite systems." It was revealed in 1989 that the Soviets had tried to send people to the Moon, but were unable due to technological difficulties.[221] The public's reaction in the Soviet Union was mixed. The Soviet government limited the release of information about the lunar landing, which affected the reaction. A portion of the populace did not give it any attention, and another portion was angered by it.[222]

The Apollo 11 landing is referenced in the songs "Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins" by The Byrds on the 1969 album Ballad of Easy Rider and "Coon on the Moon" by Howlin' Wolf on the 1973 album The Back Door Wolf.


Columbia on display in the Milestones of Flight exhibition hall at the National Air and Space Museum

The Command Module Columbia went on a tour of the United States, visiting 49 state capitals, the District of Columbia, and Anchorage, Alaska.[223] In 1971, it was transferred to the Smithsonian Institution, and was displayed at the National Air and Space Museum (NASM) in Washington, DC.[224] It was in the central Milestones of Flight exhibition hall in front of the Jefferson Drive entrance, sharing the main hall with other pioneering flight vehicles such as the Wright Flyer, Spirit of St. Louis, Bell X-1, North American X-15 and Friendship 7.[225]

Columbia was moved in 2017 to the NASM Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia, to be readied for a four-city tour titled Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission. This included Space Center Houston from October 14, 2017 to March 18, 2018, the Saint Louis Science Center from April 14 to September 3, 2018, the Senator John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh from September 29, 2018 to February 18, 2019, and its last location at Seattle's Museum of Flight from March 16 to September 2, 2019.[224][226] Continued renovations at the Smithsonian allowed time for an additional stop for the capsule, and it was moved to the Cincinnati Museum Center. The ribbon cutting ceremony was on September 29, 2019.[227]

For 40 years Armstrong's and Aldrin's space suits were displayed in the museum's Apollo to the Moon exhibit,[228] until it permanently closed on December 3, 2018, to be replaced by a new gallery which was scheduled to open in 2022. A special display of Armstrong's suit was unveiled for the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 in July 2019.[229][230] The quarantine trailer, the flotation collar and the flotation bags are in the Smithsonian's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center annex near Washington Dulles International Airport in Chantilly, Virginia, where they are on display along with a test lunar module.[231][232][233]

The Apollo 11 Mobile Quarantine Facility on display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in 2009

The descent stage of the LM Eagle remains on the Moon. In 2009, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) imaged the various Apollo landing sites on the surface of the Moon, for the first time with sufficient resolution to see the descent stages of the lunar modules, scientific instruments, and foot trails made by the astronauts.[234] The remains of the ascent stage lie at an unknown location on the lunar surface, after being abandoned and impacting the Moon. The location is uncertain because Eagle ascent stage was not tracked after it was jettisoned, and the lunar gravity field is sufficiently non-uniform to make the orbit of the spacecraft unpredictable after a short time.[235]

In March 2012 a team of specialists financed by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos located the F-1 engines from the S-IC stage that launched Apollo 11 into space. They were found on the Atlantic seabed using advanced sonar scanning.[236] His team brought parts of two of the five engines to the surface. In July 2013, a conservator discovered a serial number under the rust on one of the engines raised from the Atlantic, which NASA confirmed was from Apollo 11.[237][238] The S-IVB third stage which performed Apollo 11's trans-lunar injection remains in a solar orbit near to that of Earth.[239]

F-1 Engine Injector Plate on temporary display at the Cincinnati Museum Center in 2019
F-1 Injector Plate (Rear).jpg
Pieces of fabric and wood from the first airplane, the 1903 Wright Flyer, traveled to the Moon in the lunar module and are displayed at the Wright Brothers National Memorial

Moon rocks

The main repository for the Apollo Moon rocks is the Lunar Sample Laboratory Facility at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. For safekeeping, there is also a smaller collection stored at White Sands Test Facility near Las Cruces, New Mexico. Most of the rocks are stored in nitrogen to keep them free of moisture. They are handled only indirectly, using special tools. Over 100 research laboratories around the world conduct studies of the samples, and approximately 500 samples are prepared and sent to investigators every year.[240][241]

In November 1969, Nixon asked NASA to make up about 250 presentation Apollo 11 lunar sample displays for 135 nations, the fifty states of the United States and its possessions, and the United Nations. Each display included Moon dust from Apollo 11. The rice-sized particles were four small pieces of Moon soil weighing about 50 mg and were enveloped in a clear acrylic button about as big as a United States half dollar coin. This acrylic button magnified the grains of lunar dust. The Apollo 11 lunar sample displays were given out as goodwill gifts by Nixon in 1970.[242][243]

Experiment results

The Passive Seismic Experiment ran until the command uplink failed on August 25, 1969. The downlink failed on December 14, 1969.[244] As of 2018, the Lunar Laser Ranging experiment remains operational.[245]

Armstrong's camera

Armstrong's Hasselblad camera was thought to be lost or left on the Moon surface.[246] In 2015, after Armstrong died in 2012, his widow contacted the National Air and Space Museum to inform them she had found a white cloth bag in one of Armstrong's closets. The bag contained a forgotten camera that had been used to capture images of the first Moon landing.[247][248] The camera is currently on display at the National Air and Space Museum.[249]

Anniversary events

40th anniversary events

Columbia at the Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar

On July 15, 2009, Life.com released a photo gallery of previously unpublished photos of the astronauts taken by Life photographer Ralph Morse prior to the Apollo 11 launch.[250] From July 16 to 24, 2009, NASA streamed the original mission audio on its website in real time 40 years to the minute after the events occurred.[251] It is in the process of restoring the video footage and has released a preview of key moments.[252] In July 2010, air-to-ground voice recordings and film footage shot in Mission Control during the Apollo 11 powered descent and landing was re-synchronized and released for the first time.[253] The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum set up an Adobe Flash website that rebroadcasts the transmissions of Apollo 11 from launch to landing on the Moon.[254]

On July 20, 2009, Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins met with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House.[255] "We expect that there is, as we speak, another generation of kids out there who are looking up at the sky and are going to be the next Armstrong, Collins, and Aldrin", Obama said. "We want to make sure that NASA is going to be there for them when they want to take their journey."[256] On August 7, 2009, an act of Congress awarded the three astronauts a Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award in the United States. The bill was sponsored by Florida Senator Bill Nelson and Florida Representative Alan Grayson.[257][258]

A group of British scientists interviewed as part of the anniversary events reflected on the significance of the Moon landing:

It was carried out in a technically brilliant way with risks taken ... that would be inconceivable in the risk-averse world of today ... The Apollo programme is arguably the greatest technical achievement of mankind to date ... nothing since Apollo has come close [to] the excitement that was generated by those astronauts—Armstrong, Aldrin and the 10 others who followed them.[259]

50th anniversary

On June 10, 2015, Congressman Bill Posey introduced resolution H.R. 2726 to the 114th session of the United States House of Representatives directing the United States Mint to design and sell commemorative coins in gold, silver and clad for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission. On January 24, 2019, the Mint released the Apollo 11 Fiftieth Anniversary commemorative coins to the public on its website.[260][261]

A documentary film, Apollo 11, with restored footage of the 1969 event, premiered in IMAX on March 1, 2019, and broadly in theaters on March 8.[262][263]

The Smithsonian Institute's National Air and Space Museum and NASA sponsored the "Apollo 50 Festival" on the National Mall in Washington DC. The three day (July 18 to 20, 2019) outdoor festival featured hands-on exhibits and activities, live performances, and speakers such as Adam Savage and NASA scientists.[264]

A photo of the rocket was projected onto the Washington Monument during the Apollo 11 50th anniversary show.

As part of the festival, a projection of the 363-foot (111 m) tall Saturn V rocket was displayed on the east face of the 555-foot (169 m) tall Washington Monument from July 16 through the 20th from 9:30 pm until 11:30 pm (EDT). The program also included a 17-minute show that combined full-motion video projected on the Washington Monument to recreate the assembly and launch of the Saturn V rocket. The projection was joined by a 40-foot (12 m) wide recreation of the Kennedy Space Center countdown clock and two large video screens showing archival footage to recreate the time leading up to the moon landing. There were three shows per night on July 19–20, with the last show on Saturday delayed slightly so the portion where Armstrong first set foot on the Moon would happen exactly 50 years to the second after the actual event.[265]

On July 19, 2019, the Google Doodle paid tribute to the Apollo 11 Moon Landing, complete with a link to an animated YouTube video with voiceover by astronaut Michael Collins.[266][267]

Aldrin, Collins, and Armstrong's sons were hosted by President Donald Trump in the Oval Office.[268][269]

Films and documentaries

  • Footprints on the Moon, a 1969 documentary film by Bill Gibson and Barry Coe, about the Apollo 11 mission[270]
  • Moonwalk One, a 1971 documentary film by Theo Kamecke[271]
  • Apollo 11: As it Happened, a 1994 six-hour documentary on ABC News' coverage of the event[272]
  • Apollo 11, a 2019 documentary film by Todd Douglas Miller with restored footage of the 1969 event[273][274]
  • Chasing the Moon, a July 2019 PBS three-night six-hour documentary, directed by Robert Stone, examined the events leading up to the Apollo 11 mission. An accompanying book of the same name was also released.[275]
  • 8 Days: To the Moon and Back, a PBS and BBC Studios 2019 documentary film by Anthony Philipson re-enacting major portions of the Apollo 11 mission using mission audio recordings, new studio footage, NASA and news archives, and computer-generated imagery.[276]

See also



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In some of the following sources, times are shown in the format hours:minutes:seconds (e.g. 109:24:15), referring to the mission's Ground Elapsed Time (GET),[277] based on the official launch time of July 16, 1969, 13:32:00 UTC (000:00:00 GET).[102][3]

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External links


30 January 1969

The Beatles’ last public performance, on the roof of Apple Records in London.

On January 30 1969, the Fab Four – John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr – played live for one last time with an impromptu gig on the rooftop of the Apple offices in London.

The afternoon of January 30, 1969, was when The Beatles surprised a central London office lunch crowd with an impromptu concert on the roof of their Savile Row Apple headquarters.

Before the outing was abruptly cut short by police who objected to the noise, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr with a little help from young keyboardist Billy Preston had managed to thrill Londoners on adjacent rooftops and the streets below with a run-through of songs they had been rehearsing with a vague album in mind.

The rooftop ‘concert’ was the first live gig since the band stopped touring in 1965 and the concert was closed by Lennon quipping: “I hope we passed the audition.” They had been recording Let It Be, their final album, in the basement studio, before staging their first live performance for nearly three years.

20 January 1969

Richard Nixon becomes the 37th President of the United States of America.

Richard Milhous Nixon, January 9, 1913 – April 22, 1994 was the 37th president of the United States from 1969 until 1974 and the only president to resign from the position. He had previously served as the 36th vice president of the United States from 1953 to 1961, and prior to that as both a U.S. representative and senator from California.

Nixon was born in Yorba Linda, California. After completing his undergraduate studies at Whittier College, he graduated from Duke University School of Law in 1937 and returned to California to practice law. He and his wife Pat moved to Washington in 1942 to work for the federal government. He subsequently served on active duty in the U.S. Navy Reserve during World War II. Nixon was elected to the House of Representatives in 1946 and to the Senate in 1950. His pursuit of the Hiss Case established his reputation as a leading anti-communist and elevated him to national prominence. He was the running mate of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Republican Party presidential nominee in the 1952 election. Nixon served for eight years as Vice President, becoming the second-youngest vice president in history at age 40. He waged an unsuccessful presidential campaign in 1960, narrowly losing to John F. Kennedy, and lost a race for governor of California to Pat Brown in 1962. In 1968, he ran for the presidency again and was elected, defeating incumbent Vice President Hubert Humphrey.

Nixon ended American involvement in the war in Vietnam in 1973 and brought the American POWs home, and ended the military draft. Nixon’s visit to China in 1972 eventually led to diplomatic relations between the two nations and he initiated détente and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with the Soviet Union the same year. His administration generally transferred power from Washington D.C. to the states. He imposed wage and price controls for ninety days, enforced desegregation of Southern schools, established the Environmental Protection Agency and began the War on Cancer. Nixon also presided over the Apollo 11 moon landing, which signaled the end of the moon race. He was reelected in one of the largest electoral landslides in U.S. history in 1972 when he defeated George McGovern.

In his second term, Nixon ordered an airlift to resupply Israeli losses in the Yom Kippur War, resulting in the restart of the Middle East peace process and an oil crisis at home. The Nixon administration supported a coup in Chile that ousted the government of Salvador Allende and propelled Augusto Pinochet to power. By late 1973, the Watergate scandal escalated, costing Nixon much of his political support. On August 9, 1974, he resigned in the face of almost certain impeachment and removal from office. After his resignation, he was issued a controversial pardon by his successor, Gerald Ford. In 20 years of retirement, Nixon wrote nine books and undertook many foreign trips, helping to rehabilitate his image into that of an elder statesman. He suffered a debilitating stroke on April 18, 1994 and died four days later at the age of 81.

9 August 1969

The Manson Family commits the Tate murders.

In the early morning hours of August 9, 1969, actress Sharon Tate, who was 8 1/2 months pregnant, and four others — including celebrity hairdresser Jay Sebring, coffee heiress Abigail Folger, filmmaker Voityck Frykowksi and 18-year-old Steven Parent — were brutally murdered at the Beverly Hills home of Tate and her husband, director Roman Polanski. All of the victims were shot or stabbed multiple times by “Manson Family” members Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Charles “Tex” Watson. There were 169 stab wounds between the five. The killers used Tate’s blood to write “pig” on the front door; a macabre message that shocked and confused the city.

The following night, Charles Manson, displeased with the sloppiness of the Tate murders and looking to advance his theory of “Helter Skelter,” set out with the same followers, as well as Leslie Van Houten, to find a new victim. He decided on wealthy grocers Rosemary and Leno LaBianca — they were random and horribly unlucky victims. They too were killed in a brutal manner in their Los Feliz home. “Death to pigs” was written in blood on the wall. “Healter Skelter” marked the refrigerator.

Manson, Watson, Atkins, Krenwinkel and Van Houten were all convicted and sentenced to death for the murders. However, their sentences were commuted to life in prison when California abolished the death penalty in 1972. There was no life in prison without parole at the time, so everyone on death row was resentenced to life in prison.

21 July 1969

Astronaut Neil Armstrong becomes the first person to walk on the Moon.

Neil Armstrong was a NASA astronaut most famous for being the first person to walk on the moon, on July 20, 1969. An accomplished test pilot, Armstrong also flew on the Gemini 8 mission in 1966. He retired from NASA in 1971 and remained active in the aerospace community, although he chose to keep mostly out of the public spotlight. Armstrong died Aug. 25, 2012, at age 82.

Armstrong was famously reticent about his accomplishments, preferring to focus on the team that helped him get to the moon rather than his own first steps. “I guess we all like to be recognized not for one piece of fireworks, but for the ledger of our daily work,” Armstrong said in an interview on CBS’s “60 Minutes” program in 2005, according to Reuters.

In another interview, when asked what it feels like to have his footprints remain on the moon’s surface for thousands of years, Armstrong said, “I kind of hope that somebody goes up there one of these days and cleans them up,” Reuters added.

An official biography of Armstrong was published in 2005, called “First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong.” It was written by James R. Hansen, a former NASA historian and later a history professor at Auburn University.

Early career and NASA work Armstrong was born in Wapakoneta, Ohio, on Aug. 5, 1930. His parents were Stephen Koenig Armstrong and Viola Louise Engel. Armstrong was a naval aviator from 1949 to 1952 and served in the Korean War. Armstrong got a bachelor of science degree in aeronautical engineering from Purdue University in 1955; much later he received a master of science in aerospace engineering from the University of Southern California in 1970. As a NASA test pilot, Armstrong flew the X-15, a rocket-powered, missile-shaped aircraft that tested the limits of high-altitude flight. He flew more than 200 different aircraft, from jets to gliders and even helicopters.

NASA test pilot Neil Armstrong is seen here next to the X-15 ship #1 after a research flight. In 1962, Armstrong was selected with NASA’s second group of astronauts, who flew on the two-seat Gemini missions to test out space technology, and the three-seat Apollo missions that ultimately took 12 people to the surface of the moon. Armstrong’s first flight was the command pilot of the Gemini 8 mission in March 1966, the sixth crewed mission of that series.

Armstrong and pilot David Scott did the first orbital docking of two spacecraft, joining their Gemini 8 spacecraft to an uncrewed Agena target vehicle. However, the mission quickly turned into an emergency situation when a thruster on the Gemini 8 spacecraft was stuck open. With the astronauts whipping around faster than one revolution per second, Armstrong managed to gain control again by using the re-entry system thrusters. The mission — the first serious emergency in space — ultimately ended safely, but splashed down early because the re-entry system was used.

Armstrong narrowly avoided a nasty accident in May 1968 while using the Lunar Landing Research Vehicle, a machine that could fly somewhat like a lunar module and simulate landings on the moon. Fuel for his thrusters ran out and Armstrong was forced to eject just seconds before the vehicle crashed. Armstrong escaped unharmed.

20 May 1969

The Battle of Hamburger Hill during the Vietnam War ends.

Hamburger Hill was the scene of an intense and controversial battle during the Vietnam War. Known to military planners as Hill 937, the solitary peak is located in the dense jungles of the A Shau Valley of Vietnam, about a mile from the border with Laos.

The Vietnamese referred to the hill as Dong Ap Bia. Though the hill had no real tactical significance, taking the hill was part of Operation Apache Snow, a U.S. military sweep of the A Shau Valley. The purpose of the operation was to cut off North Vietnamese infiltration from Laos and enemy threats to the cities of Hue and Da Nang.

Under the leadership of General Melvin Zais, commanding general of the 101st Airborne Division, paratroopers engaged a North Vietnamese regiment on the slopes of Ap Bia Mountain on May 10, 1969. Entrenched in well-prepared fighting positions, the North Vietnamese 29th Regiment repulsed the initial American assault, and after suffering a high number of casualties, U.S. forces fell back.

The soldiers of the North Vietnamese 29th Regiment—battle-hardened veterans of the Tet Offensive—beat back another attempt by the 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry on May 14. An intense battle raged for the next 10 days as the mountain came under heavy air strikes, artillery barrages and 10 infantry assaults, some conducted in heavy tropical rainstorms that reduced visibility to near zero.

Due to the bitter fighting and the high casualty rate, Ap Bia Mountain was dubbed “Hamburger Hill” by journalists covering the Vietnam War. Speaking to a reporter, 19-year-old Sergeant James Spears said, “Have you ever been inside a hamburger machine? We just got cut to pieces by extremely accurate machine gun fire.”

On May 20, General Zais sent in two additional U.S. airborne battalions, plus a South Vietnamese battalion as reinforcements for his increasingly disgruntled soldiers.

One U.S. soldier—who had fought in nine of the 10 assaults on Hamburger Hill—was quoted as saying, “I’ve lost a lot of buddies up there. Not many guys can take it much longer.”

Finally, in the 11th attack, the North Vietnamese stronghold was captured on May 20, when thousands of U.S. troops and South Vietnamese soldiers fought their way to the summit. In the face of the four-battalion attack, the North Vietnamese retreated to sanctuary areas in Laos.

On June 5—just days after the hard-won victory—Ap Bia Mountain was abandoned by U.S. forces because it had no real strategic value. The North Vietnamese re-occupied Hamburger Hill a month later.

“The only significance of the hill was the fact that your North Vietnamese on it … the hill itself had no tactical significance,” General Zais was quoted as saying.

Reports of casualties vary, but during the 10 days of intense fighting, an estimated 630 North Vietnamese were killed. U.S. casualties were listed as 72 killed and 372 wounded.

The bloody battle over Hamburger Hill and the fleeting victory resulted in a firestorm of criticism from anti-war activists. Outrage over what appeared to be a senseless loss of American lives was exacerbated by photographs published in Life magazine of U.S. soldiers killed during the battle.

On the floor of the U.S. Senate, Edward Kennedy scorned the military tactics of the Nixon administration. Kennedy condemned the battle for Ap Bia Mountain as “senseless and irresponsible.” General Creighton Abrams, commander of U.S. Military Assistance Command Vietnam, was subsequently ordered to avoid such intensive ground battles.

But not all the soldiers and military leaders agreed that Hamburger Hill was a wasted effort. Of the criticisms leveled at U.S. commanders, General Zais said, “Those people are acting like this was a catastrophe for the U.S. troops. This was a tremendous, gallant victory.”

24 November 1969

The Apollo 12 command module splashes down in the Pacific Ocean, ending the second manned mission to land on the Moon.


Apollo 12, the second manned lunar mission, took off for the moon on Nov. 14, 1969. The spacecraft’s target was the Ocean of Storms, and NASA scientists hoped it would land a little closer to bull’s-eye than the first mission got.

Apollo 11 was a great technological achievement, but it landed four miles from its target. NASA wanted a more pinpoint landing in future missions. Also, part of Apollo 12’s work would be to retrieve bits of Surveyor 3, another spacecraft that had landed on the moon in 1967. If the crew landed miles away, there was no hope of achieving that.
The Apollo 12 astronauts

The crew of Apollo 12 were seasoned astronauts and pilots, and were close friends.Pete Conrad, a wise-cracking gap-toothed commander, graduated from Princeton University and joined the Navy, where he became a flight instructor. He first flew in space on Gemini 5, which set an endurance record at the time and pushed the United States ahead of the Soviet Union in terms of accumulated hours in space.
Pete Conrad, Dick Gordon, and Al Bean pose during a visit to North American Rockwell Space Division, Downey, California for spacecraft checkout.

Lunar module pilot Alan Bean was a student of Conrad’s at the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School; in interviews with journalist Andrew Chaikin, the story was told that Bean was Conrad’s first pick for Apollo 12. However, Astronaut Office chief Deke Slayton voted the proposal down. C.C. Williams was chosen instead. Tragically, Williams died in a T-38 crash on Oct. 5, 1967. When Conrad approached Slayton again, Slayton agreed to bring Bean on board. Bean felt it was a rescue from his previous work at NASA, and an opportunity he would never forget.

The command module pilot for Apollo 12 was Richard “Dick” Gordon, who came to NASA after setting speed and distance records, and also doing flight testing for the Navy. His skill at the stick came in handy for the Gemini 11 mission, when he and Conrad piloted the docked spacecraft to 528 miles above Earth, an altitude record at the time.

19 November 1969

Football player Pelé scores his 1,000th goal.


Brazilian soccer great Pele scores his 1,000th professional goal in a game, against Vasco da Gama in Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana stadium. It was a major milestone in an illustrious career that included three World Cup championships.

Pele, considered one of the greatest soccer players ever to take the field, was born Edson Arantes do Nascimento in Tres Coracos, Brazil, in 1940. He acquired the nickname Pele during his childhood though the name has no meaning in his native Portuguese. When he was a teenager, he played for a minor league soccer club in Bauru in Sao Paulo state and in 1956 joined the major league Santos Football Club in the city of Sao Paulo, playing inside left forward. Two years later, he led the Brazilian national team to victory in the World Cup. Pele, who was only 17 years old, scored two goals to defeat Sweden in the final.

Pele was blessed with speed, balance, control, power, and an uncanny ability to anticipate the movements of his opponents and teammates. Although just five feet eight inches tall, he was a giant on the field, leading Santos to three national club championships, two South American championships, and the world club title in 1963. Under Pele’s leadership, Brazil won the World Cup in 1958, 1962, and 1970. In 1970, Brazil was granted permanent possession of the World Cup’s Jules Rimet Trophy as a tribute to its dominance. On November 19, 1969, Pele scored his 1,000th goal on a penalty kick against Vasco da Gama. Eighty thousand adoring fans in Maracana stadium cheered him wildly, even though Santos was the opposing team.

Pele announced his retirement in 1974 but in 1975 accepted a $7 million contract to play with the New York Cosmos. He led the Cosmos to a league championship in 1977 and did much to promote soccer in the United States. On October 1, 1977, in Giants Stadium, he played his last professional game in a Cosmos match against his old team Santos.

During his long career, Pele scored 1,282 goals in 1,363 games. In 1978, Pele was given the International Peace Award and in 1993 he was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame. Since retiring, he has acted as an international ambassador for his sport and has worked with the United Nations and UNICEF to promote peace and international reconciliation through friendly athletic competition.

1 September 1969

A military coup brings Muammar Gaddafi to power in Libya.


Muammar al-Qaddafi, a 27-year-old Libyan army captain, leads a successful military coup against King Idris I of Libya. Idris was deposed and Qaddafi was named chairman of Libya’s new governing body, the Revolutionary Command Council.

Qaddafi was born in a tent in the Libyan desert in 1942, the son of a Bedouin farmer. A gifted student, he graduated from the University of Libya in 1963 and the Libyan military academy at Banghazi in 1965. An ardent Arab nationalist, he plotted with a group of fellow officers to overthrow King Idris, who was viewed as overly conservative and indifferent to the movement for greater political unity among Arab countries. By the time Qaddafi attained the rank of captain, in 1969, the revolutionaries were ready to strike. They waited until King Idris was out of the country, being treated for a leg ailment at a Turkish spa, and then toppled his government in a bloodless coup. The monarchy was abolished, and Idris traveled from Turkey to Greece before finding asylum in Egypt. He died there in Cairo in 1983.

Blending Islamic orthodoxy, revolutionary socialism, and Arab nationalism, Qaddafi established a fervently anti-Western dictatorship in Libya. In 1970, he removed U.S. and British military bases and expelled Italian and Jewish Libyans. In 1973, he took control of foreign-owned oil fields. He reinstated traditional Islamic laws, such as prohibition of alcoholic beverages and gambling, but liberated women and launched social programs that improved the standard of living in Libya. As part of his stated ambition to unite the Arab world, he sought closer relations with his Arab neighbors, especially Egypt. However, when Egypt and then other Arab nations began a peace process with Israel, Libya became increasingly isolated.

Qaddafi’s government financed a wide variety of terrorist groups worldwide, from Palestinian guerrillas and Philippine Muslim rebels to the Irish Republican Army. During the 1980s, the West blamed him for numerous terrorist attacks in Europe, and in April 1986 U.S. war planes bombed Tripoli in retaliation for a bombing of a West German dance hall. Qaddafi was reportedly injured and his infant daughter killed in the U.S. attack.

In the late 1990s, Qaddafi sought to lead Libya out of its long international isolation by turning over to the West two suspects wanted for the 1988 explosion of an airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland. In response, the United Nations lifted sanctions against Libya. The United States removed its own embargo in September 2004. After years of rejection in the Arab world, Qaddafi also sought to forge stronger relations with non-Islamic African nations such as South Africa, remodeling himself as an elder African statesman.

In February 2011, as unrest spread through much of the Arab world, massive political protests against the Qaddafi regime sparked a civil war between revolutionaries and loyalists. In March, an international coalition began conducting airstrikes against Qaddafi strongholds under the auspices of a U.N. Security Council resolution. On October 20, Libya’s interim government announced that Qaddafi had died after being captured near his hometown of Sirte.