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50th Anniversary of Apollo 11
Intro Copy“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” If you are over the age of 50, like I am, more than likely you remember exactly where you were on July 20, 1969. I was sitting on the living room floor in front of a black-and-white TV watching CBS and Walter Cronkite’s coverage of the Apollo 11 Moon landing. At 10:56 p.m., when Neil Armstrong stepped off the lunar lander and uttered his now unforgettable phrase, I remember feeling such a sense of awe and wonder that the United States and humans in general were able to accomplish something so incredible. The first lunar landing was the culmination of President John F. Kennedy’s ambitious challenge in 1961 to put humans on the moon before the decade was over. Apollo 11 astronauts Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on July 16 aboard a massive Saturn V rocket. Three days later, they were in orbit around the Moon. Neil and Buzz climbed aboard the lunar lander, Eagle, while Collins circled the Moon alone in the command module Columbia. Tension mounted in Mission Control in Houston as Neil took manual control of the Eagle because there were boulders on the proposed landing site. With less than 30 seconds of fuel remaining and alarms sounding, Armstrong landed at 4:18 p.m. and radioed back, “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.” Armstrong and Aldrin spent only two and a-half hours on the Moon, but they collected samples from the lunar surface and conducted several experiments. They left behind an American flag, a patch honoring the crew of Apollo 1 and a plaque which read: “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon. July 20, 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.” After a successful splashdown in the Pacific on July 24, the crew was quarantined for 21 days because no one knew if they would bring back pathogens from the lunar dust. After quarantine, the three astronauts became instant worldwide celebrities. NASA sent six more missions to the Moon, the last one being in 1972. NASA has announced plans to return to the Moon in 2024, with the goal of placing an unmanned craft, called Gateway, in permanent orbit around the Moon. The Artemis program is seen as the next step to eventually landing humans on Mars. Just because it's summer doesn’t mean the learning has to stop. Educators and librarians can use eLibrary to help guide students to conduct their own research into human space exploration. Schools and Libraries can also request a free trial of ProQuest’s Alexander Street where researchers can view many Apollo 11-related videos. Educators might consider showing their students the new American Experience documentary, Chasing the Moon, from PBS. Don’t have eLibrary? Request a Free Trial!