Nothing but the Facts About Apollo 11

The Apollo 11 mission began July 16, 1969, when launched from Cape Kennedy (now Cape Canaveral). The mission had three astronauts, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins and their prime mission objective was simply to “Perform a manned lunar landing and return.”

The Saturn V Rocket

The Saturn V rocket, developed at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center under the direction of Werner von Braun, was the largest in a family of liquid-propellant rockets that solved the problem of getting to the Moon. It was a three-stage rocket.

The Saturn V was taller than a 36-story building and was the largest, most powerful rocket ever launched. It had a cluster of five powerful engines in each of the first two stages. The first stage had five F-1 engines. The second stage had five J-2 engines. The third stage had one J-2 engine. The reason for the three stages was to get the spacecraft into orbit.

To enter outer space a spacecraft needs to travel at 17,500 mph. The three stages produced that speed. First, stage 1 produced 7.5 million pounds of thrust and ran for 2.5 minutes. Stage 2 started after that and took the spacecraft up to 115 miles above the earth. 1 million pounds of thrust were responsible for the momentum. Finally, stage 3 began and took the spacecraft up another 114 miles. It lasted 2.75 minutes and then for 5.2 minutes to initiate the lunar thrust.

Inside, the rocket contained 3 million parts in a labyrinth of fuel lines, pumps, gauges, sensors, circuits and switches, each of which had to function reliably. The rocket fuel was a high-performance liquid hydrogen fuel for the upper stages.

The Saturn V was flight-tested twice without a crew. The first manned Saturn V sent the Apollo 8 astronauts into orbit around the moon in December 1968. After two more missions to test the lunar landing vehicle, in July 1969, a Saturn V launched the crew of Apollo 11 to the first manned landing on the moon.

The Space Capsule

The Apollo 11 spacecraft consisted of the Command and Service Module called “Columbia” and the Lunar Module called “Eagle.” Apollo 11’s journey to the moon took three and a half days.

Columbia housed the three astronauts. The Eagle housed the two astronauts that landed on the moon.

After the moon landing and the Eagle attached itself to the Columbia, Eagle was jettisoned from the Command Module on July 21, 1969 at 7:41 p.m. EDT into lunar orbit. Within a couple of years, however, the Eagle lander smashed unseen into the moon.

The Moon Landing

The landing site was the Sea of Tranquility. NASA astronomers picked this site because it was relatively smooth.

After Eagle separated from Columbia, they proceeded to that site.

But the landing process didn’t go flawlessly. Alarms sounded when the computer could not keep up with the data stream. Then Armstrong did not like where they were heading and selected a safer spot alongside a crater with boulders in it. But they were stretching their opportunity and landed with a about 20 seconds of fuel left.

After that, they practiced liftoff for the first two hours before they even walked out onto the moon. They both felt that was the most prudent thing to do after touching down to prepare to depart quickly if they had to.

The moon landing took place July 20, 1969, at 4:17:40 p.m. EDT. The first step on the moon occurred at 10:56:15 p.m. EDT July 20, 1969, and the moonwalk lasted two hours and 31 minutes. The lunar surface traversed was about 250 meters. The moon rocks collected were 21.7 kilograms. Finally, the moon departure took place on July 21, 1969, at 1:54:01 p.m. EDT.

The Astronauts

Three astronauts went on to the moon. They were not the first to make the trip. Apollo 7, 8, and 10 missions also went to the moon, but they did not land.

Neil A. Armstrong was mission commander. He was the first man to walk on the moon.

Buzz Aldrin was the lunar module pilot and the second man to walk on the moon.

Michael Collins was the command module pilot, but he did not walk on the moon. He continued to orbit the moon while his comrades made history.


The crew splashed down in the Pacific Ocean on July 24, 1969. But after that, parades and honor shows were not in the agenda. They did not go on the Johnny Carson Tonight show, nor did they have dinner parties in their honor. No, they were put into a three-week quarantine lockup to make sure they were not carrying any deadly bacteria from space or the moon. They did not. Afterwards they went home.

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