Today Aero Jet Medical Air Ambulance Authority celebrates the 45th anniversary of men from Earth landing and walking on the moon, completing a goal set by President John F. Kennedy in 1961. Trailing Russia in the space race, President Kennedy said while addressing a joint session of Congress on May 25, 1961 “I believe this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth.”
Eight years later, on July 16, 1969, Apollo 11, crewed by Commander Neil Armstrong, Command Module (CM) pilot Mike Collins, and Lunar Module (LM) pilot Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida and began a 3-day journey to the moon. The men orbited the moon for just over 24 hours before the lunar module separated from the command module with Astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin on board. An hour later the LM began its decent and just over an hour after that the LM, nicknamed “Eagle”, landed in the Sea of Tranquility at lunar coordinates .71 degrees north by 23.63 degrees east. Armstrong told the world with his now famous broadcast; “Houston, Tranquility base here. The Eagle has landed.”
The men were originally scheduled to have a 4 hour rest period but that was changed at their request. (Would you want to head to the most exotic place ever and then spend 4 hours sitting in the car before going off to explore it?). Just about 7 hours after landing, Armstrong took the first step and uttered the second famous quote for the mission; “That’s one small step for man…one giant leap for mankind”. Aldrin joined him about 20 minutes later and the men then spent about 2 hours and 15 minutes performing prearranged tasks that included collecting samples, taking photographs, and deploying scientific and commemorative items. Among those commemorative items were a U.S. Flag, medallions bearing the names of the three Apollo 1 astronauts who lost their lives in a launch pad fire, and two cosmonauts who also died in accidents, a silicon disk containing micro miniaturized goodwill messages from 73 countries, and a plaque that reads “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot on the moon–July 1969 A.D–We came in peace for all mankind.”
Just under 22 hrs. after landing, the astronauts lifted off the moon’s surface and headed towards the CM to rejoin Collins and head home. The mission ended eight days, three hours, 18 min, 35 seconds after it began when Apollo 11 splashed down in the Pacific Ocean on July 24, 1969.