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Apollo 11

"That's one small step for [a] man; one giant leap for mankind." Each member of the Apollo 11 crew has autographed this crew lithograph in person for me.
Photo Credit: NASA
Apollo 11
                          Autographed Crew PhotoChosen to be Commander of Apollo 11 was Neil Alden Armstrong.  Armstrong was the veteran Commander of the nearly disastrous Gemini XIII mission.

Michael Collins was selected to be the Command Module Pilot.  Collins also had Gemini experience having conducted EVAs on Gemini X.

The Lunar Module Pilot for Apollo 11 was chosen to be Edwin Eugene (Buzz) Aldrin, Jr.  Like his crewmates, Aldrin also had experienced spaceflight during the Gemini Program.  He was the Pilot for Gemini XII.

The name that the crew chose for the command module was Columbia.  This name was derived from the name of the spaceship in Jules Verne's science fiction classic, "From The Earth To The Moon."  In that book Columbiad was the name of the first spaceship that traveled to the Moon.  Backup Apollo 11 Commander James Arthur Lovell, Jr. is credited for suggesting this name.

The name chosen for the Lunar Module was Eagle.  The bald eagle is the national bird of the United States and is symbolic of the nation's love for freedom.

At 9:32 AM Eastern Daylight Time, on July 16, 1969, the brave explorers, Armstrong, Collins, and Aldrin embarked on the voyage of a lifetime.  Their mighty Saturn V came to life and shook like a prehistoric beast as it struggled against the bonds of gravity.  Chunks of ice which had accumulated on the outside of the vehicle, due to the super cold propellants stored in side, sheared off and rained back down upon the launch pad.

At 4 seconds into the flight, Armstrong called, "Roger.  Clock."  A few seconds later he followed that with "Roger. We got a roll program." At 1 minute and 2 seconds, Capsule Communicator Bruce McCandless at Mission Control in Houston informed the crew, "Apollo 11, Houston. You're good at one minute."

At 2 minutes and 3 seconds into the flight CAPCOM McCandless informed the crew, "Apollo 11, this is Houston. You are GO for staging."  At 2 minutes and 17 seconds, Armstrong reported to Mission Control that the center or inboard engine and the first stage (S-1C) of the Saturn V had shut down.  Armstrong called, "Inboard cut-off."  McCandless responded, "We confirm inboard cut-off."

At 2 minutes and 41 seconds into the flight, the four outboard engines on the S-IC cut-off according to plan.  This was followed by the ignition of the second stage (S-II) engines 2 seconds later.  This staging left behind the first stage as the rest of the stack continued onward.  CAP COM McCandless informed the crew,
"11, Houston.  Thrust is GO, all engines.  You're looking good."

At 3 minutes and 17 seconds into the flight the Launch Escape Tower was jettisoned. Armstrong called to Mission Control,
"Tower's gone." McCandless acknowledged, "Roger. Tower."  This also removed the Boost Protective Cover from the Command Module so that the crew now had a view out of the windows.  Armstrong now informed the ground, "Houston, be advised the visual is GO today." 
A few seconds later, Armstrong added, "Yes. They finally gave me a window to look out."

At 7 minutes and 42 seconds, Commander Armstrong informed Mission Control that the second stage inboard engine had cut-off.  Armstrong called, "Inboard, cut-off."  McCandless responded, "Roger.  We confirmed."

CAPCOM McCandless informed the crew at 8 minutes and 52 seconds, "11, Houston. You are GO for staging.  Over" At 9 minutes and 8 seconds into the launch, the engines of the S-II cutoff according to plan. Approximately 4 seconds later, the J2 engine of the third stage (S-IVB) was ignited and the S-II second stage dropped away.  Armstrong called, "Staging - and Ignition."  McCandless responded, "Ignition confirmed; thrust is GO, 11."

At 11 minutes and 39 seconds into the flight, the S-IVB engine cutoff and the vehicle was in orbit.  Commander Armstrong called, "Shutdown."
  CMP Collins informed Mission control, "SECO.  We are showing 101.4 by 103.6."  McCandless confirmed, "Roger. Shutdown.  We confirm 101.4 by 103.6."  McCandless added, "Apollo 11, Houston. You are confirmed GO for orbit."

After a nominal ascent into orbit, the crew spent one and one half orbits of the Earth checking out the systems on their space vehicles.  The systems checked out properly and the crew was given a GO for Trans Lunar Injection. 

At 2 hours, 26 minutes, and 47 seconds, CAPCOM McCandless informed the crew, "Apollo 11, this is Houston.  You are GO for TLI. Over."   Collins responded, "Apollo 11. Thank you." The J2 engine on the third stage (S-IVB) of the Saturn V was reignited at 2 hours, 44 minutes, and 16 seconds into the flight.  Apollo 11 was on its way to the Moon.

After the burn, Commander Armstrong reported, "Hey, Houston, Apollo 11.  That Saturn gave us a marvelous ride."  McCandless answered, "Roger, 11.  We'll pass that along.  And it certainly looks like you are well on your way now."  Armstrong added, "We have no complaints with any of the three stages.  The ride was beautiful."

The next maneuver after TLI was Transposition and Docking.  At 3 hours, 14 minutes, and 8 seconds, CAPCOM gave the crew for separation from the S-IVB.  CAPCOM McCandless radioed, "Apollo 11, this is Houston.  You are GO for separation.  Our systems recommendation is arm both pyro busses.  Over."  Command Module Pilot Collins separated the Command Service Module combination from the S-IVB and moved away from it at 3 hours, 17 minutes and 4 seconds into the flight.

Collins then transposed the orientation of the Command Service Module and moved back towards the top of the S-IVB.  The top of the S-IVB is where the Lunar Module Eagle was nestled.  Collins docked with Eagle at 3 hours, 24 minutes and 3 seconds. 

Eagle was extracted from its nest and a separation maneuver was performed at 4 hours 40 minutes, and 1 second.  This maneuver was intended to increase the distance between the spent S-IVB and the crewed spacecraft.

The shift of controllers in mission control changed to the White Team led by Eugene Kranz.  CAPCOM for the White Team would be Charlie Duke.  Duke and the White team would also be on duty during the landing attempt a few days later.

The crew sent back a television broadcast showing their view of the Earth.  After they spent some time configuring systems, the crew retired for the evening.

At 22 hours, 50 minutes, and 15 seconds into the flight, the sleep period was over.  The shift at Mission Control had changed again and Bruce McCandless was back at CAPCOM.  McCandless called to the crew, "Apollo 11, Apollo 11, this is Houston. Over."  Armstrong responded, "Good morning, Houston. Apollo 11."  McCandless responded, "Roger, Apollo 11. Good morning."

At 23 hours, 14 minutes, and 23 seconds, McCandless reported some of the day's news to the crew.  McCandless radioed, "Okay.  From Jodrell Bank, England, via AP:  Britain's big Jodrell Bank radio telescope stopped receiving signals from the Soviet Union's unmanned Moon shot at 5:49 EDT today.  A spokesman said that it appeared the Luna 15 spaceship had "gone beyond the Moon."  Another quote, "We don't think it has landed," said a spokesman for Sir Bernard Lovell, director of the observatory.  Washington UPI:  Vice President Spiro T. Agnew has called for putting a man on Mars by the year 2000, but Democratic leaders replied that priority must go to needs on Earth."

The news report also included a couple of humorous items, one was about hippies being refused tourist cards for entry into Mexico unless they "take a bath and get haircuts."
Another humorous item involved a small US midget submarine that was searching for the Loch Ness monster.  The House of Lords in England wanted assurances that the submarine operating in the loch, "would not subject any creatures that might inhabit it to damage or assault."

At 1 day 2 hours, 44 minutes, and 58 seconds, a midcourse correction maneuver was performed with the Service Propulsion System engine on the Service Module.  The purpose of this maneuver was to refine Apollo 11's trajectory towards the Moon.

At 1 day, 3 hours, 21 minutes, and 56 seconds, Lunar Module Pilot Aldrin was describing his observations of the Earth to CAPCOM James Lovell.  Aldrin said, "I've got a comment about the point on the Earth where the Sun's rays reflect back up towards us.  In general, the color of the oceans is mostly uniform and it's bright and darker blue, except for that region that's about one-eighth of an Earth's radius in diameter; and in this circular area, the blue of the water turns grayish in color, and I'm sure that's where the Sun's rays are being reflected back on up towards us.  Over."

Lovell, who had been on the first mission to fly to the Moon responded, "Roger. We noticed the same thing.  It's very similar to looking at a light shining on something like a billiard ball or a bowling ball.  You get this bright spot in the blue of the water, and that turns out to be a sort of grayish color."  Aldrin agreed and asked Navy Pilot Lovell, "Yes, is there a Navy term for that?"  Lovell laughed and responded, "A lot of gray paint."

The controllers in Mission Control changed shift again and the White Team with CAPCOM Charlie Duke was back on the control consoles.  At 1 day, 9 hours, 38 minutes, and 17 seconds, Duke gave the Apollo 11 crew an update on the Soviet Luna 15 probe.  Duke reported, "Latest on Luna 15 - TASS reported this morning that the spacecraft was placed in orbit close to the lunar surface and everything seems to be functioning normally on the vehicle.  Sir Bernard Lovell said the craft appears to be in an orbit of about 62 nautical miles."

The crew made some more observations of the Earth and transmitted another television broadcast back to Earth.

At 1 day, 12 hours, 9 minutes and zero seconds it was time for another sleep period for the Apollo 11 crew.  CAPCOM Duke called to Apollo 11, "Hello Apollo 11, Houston.  As the Sun sinks slowly in the west, the White Team bids you good night."

At 2 days, 0 hours, 9 minutes, and zero seconds the sleep period was over for the crew and CAPCOM McCandless who was a member of the Mission Control Green Team made a call to the crew.  McCandless radioed, "Apollo 11, Apollo 11, this is Houston. Over."  Lunar Module Pilot Aldrin answered, "Good morning, Houston. Apollo 11."

Aldrin asked McCandless how the spacecraft systems were doing based on the monitors from the ground.  Aldrin queried, "How do all our systems look?"  CAPCOM McCandless responded, "Roger.  They're all looking great, and as far as we can tell everything is good from down here."

At 2 days, 7 hours, 21 minutes, and 27 seconds, the crew was removing the docking probe and drogue from in between the Command Module and the Lunar Module.  This would allow them to access the Lunar Module.  Commander Armstrong noted the skill with which Collins had docked the two spacecraft.   Armstrong said, "Mike must have done a smooth job in that docking.  There isn't a dent or mark on the probe."
  Lunar Module Pilot Aldrin gave the viewers on Earth a televised tour of the Lunar Module.

At 3 days, 0 hours, 29 minutes, and 46 seconds, CAPCOM read the days morning news to the crew.   CAPCOM radioed,
"Hot from the wires of the MSC Public Affairs Office, especially prepared for the crew of Apollo 11.  Okay. First off, it looks like it is going to be impossible to get away from the fact that you guys are dominating all the news back here on Earth.  Even Pravda in Russia is headlining the mission and calls Neil, 'The Czar of the ship.'  I think maybe they got the wrong mission."

A few minutes later, CAPCOM called up to the crew and Collins responded, "The Czar is brushing his teeth, so I'm filling in for him."

After a 3-day coast to the Moon, on July 19, 1969, the Service Propulsion System (SPS) was fired on the Service Module to insert the crew and their vehicles into Lunar Orbit.  This firing occurred at 3 days, 3 hours, 49 minutes, and 50 seconds into the flight.  Another burn occurred at 3 days, 8 hours, 11 minutes and 36 seconds.  The purpose of the second burn was to circularize the lunar orbit.

After checking out their vehicles in lunar orbit, the crew was given a GO for landing.  Eagle separated from the Columbia.  The undocking occurred at 4 days, 4 hours, 12 minutes, and 0 seconds.  At 4 days, 4 hours 39 minutes and 52 seconds Collins performed a separation maneuver with the Command Service Module to increase its distance from the Lunar Module.

Descent orbit insertion of Eagle occurred at 4 days, 5 hours, 36 minutes, and 14 seconds.  Powered Descent Initiation followed this at 4 days, 6 hours 33 minutes and 5 seconds.  Armstrong and Aldrin had fired their descent engine to head down to their targeted landing site on Mare Tranquillitatis (the Sea of Tranquility).

The descent to the Moon was very nerve wracking.  Several times during the descent warning alarms sounded in the Lunar Module.  At 4 days, 6 hours, 38 minutes, and 26 seconds into the flight Armstrong reported, "PROGRAM ALARM."  CAPCOM Duke responded, "It's looking good to us. Over."  CDR Armstrong added, "It's a 1202."  LMP Aldrin confirmed, "1202."  Armstrong requested clarification on the alarm from Mission Control, "Give us a reading on that 1202 PROGRAM ALARM."  CAPCOM Duke answered, "Roger.  We got - We're GO on that alarm."

The landing computer was having trouble keeping up with all of the data.  Each time an alarm sounded, Mission Control in Houston evaluated the problem and assured the crew that they were still GO for landing.  Flight Controller Steve Bales became a hero that day. Controller Bales was the person who was responsible for the Lunar Module computer.   It would be his decision to either continue with the landing or abort. Split second decisions were required of Bales and his support team as there was no margin for error.

At 4 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes, and 10 seconds into the flight, CAPCOM Duke advised the crew, "Eagle, Houston.  You are GO for landing over."  LMP Aldrin responded, "Roger.  Understand.  GO for landing.  3000 feet.  PROGRAM ALARM."  CAPCOM Duke acknowledged, "Copy."  LMP Aldrin reported the alarm type, "1201."  CDR Armstrong acknowledged, "1201."  CAPCOM Duke informed the crew, "Roger. 1201 alarm.  We're GO.  Same type.  We're GO."

As they approached the surface Armstrong and Aldrin found that they were headed directly into a field of boulders that would be unsuitable as a landing site.  Armstrong took manual control and maneuvered the LM away from the hazard.

Finally, they had reached a suitable spot and Armstrong lowered the LM towards the surface.  The Lunar Module had probes protruding from three of it's landing struts to tell the crew via a light on the control panel when they were close enough to the surface to shut off the descent engine.

On July 20, 1969, at 3:17:39 PM Central Daylight Time, the Lunar Module Eagle along with Armstrong and Aldrin came in contact with the Moon.  The landing occurred at 4 days, 6 hours, 45 minutes and 39 seconds into the flight.

At 4 days, 6 hours, 45 minutes, and 40 seconds, Aldrin reported, "Contact light"  and followed that with "Okay. Engine Stop."  Armstrong and Aldrin quickly went through a post-landing checklist.

At 4 days, 6 hours, 45 minutes, and 57 seconds, CAPCOM Duke called to the crew, "We copy you down Eagle."  CDR Armstrong then made the historic call, "Houston, Tranquility Base here.  The Eagle has landed."  Duke responded, "Roger Tranquility.  We copy you on the ground.  You've got a bunch of guys about to turn blue.  We're breathing again.  Thanks a lot."

What a monumental day in the history of mankind that was.  Men had left the place of their birth for the very first time and landed on a new world.  The names Armstrong, Collins, and Aldrin would go down in the history books next to the likes of Columbus, Eriksson, and Magellan.

At 4 days, 6 hours, 55 minutes, and 16 seconds Armstrong explained what occurred during final landing phase to Mission Control.  CDR Armstrong radioed, "Hey, Houston, that may have seemed like a very long final phase.  The AUTO targeting was taking us right into a football-field size - football-field sized crater with a large number of big boulders and rocks for about ... one or two crater diameters around it, and it required a ... in P66 and flying manually over the rock field to find a reasonably good area."

CAPCOM Duke told the Armstrong and Aldrin, "Be advised, there's lots of smiling faces in this room and all over the world."  CDR Armstrong responded, "Well, there are two of them up here."  Duke answered, "Roger.  That was a beautiful job, you guys."  CMP Collins, who was alone, orbiting overhead in the Command Module, chimed in, "And don't forget the one in the Command Module."

Armstrong noticed that the mission timer inside of the Lunar Module had stopped.  He reported, "And Houston, our mission timer is now reading 902 34 47 and static."  CAPCOM Duke responded, "Roger. Copy your mission timer's now static."  The mission timer was critical for know when to when to fire the ascent engine for Lunar liftoff to achieve a proper rendezvous with the Command Service Module.

With the timer functionality in question, the decision was made to leave Armstrong's wristwatch inside of the Lunar Module during the EVA.  Aldrin would wear his watch and it would be the first wristwatch on the lunar surface.

Armstrong and Aldrin were scheduled to first have a four-hour rest period before preparing to exit the Lunar Module and explore the lunar surface.  Armstrong and Aldrin sought for permission to skip the rest period and proceed with the EVA activities.  Aldrin radioed, "Our recommendation at this point is planning an EVA with your concurrence starting about 8 o'clock this evening, Houston time.  That is about 3 hours from now."

Mission Control accessed the recommendation and CAPCOM  relayed the go ahead to the crew, "Tranquility Base, Houston.  We thought about; we will support it.  You are GO at that time. Over."

At 4 days, 9 hours, 25 minutes, and 38 seconds into the mission Aldrin radioed, "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 last few hours and to give thanks in his or her own way."

During that pause, Aldrin celebrated the sacrament of communion on the Moon.  He had brought along a miniature chalice in his personal preference kit along with a tiny amount sacramental wine and a wafer.  In radio silence, Aldrin performed and abbreviated communion ceremony on the Moon.

At 4 days, 13 hours, 7 minutes, and 33 seconds, the hatch of the Lunar Module was opened to the lunar environment, devoid of atmosphere.  With Aldrin's guidance Armstrong backed out of the Lunar Module's small hatch and onto the porch of the Lunar Module.  At 4 days,  13 hours, 19 minutes and 16 seconds CDR Armstrong reported, "Okay.  Houston, I'm on the porch."

A black and white television camera was inside of an equipment bay on the Lunar Module known as the Mesa.  As Armstrong proceeded towards the surface he pulled a lanyard that allowed the Mesa to drop down and point the television camera towards the ladder. CAPCOM McCandless reported, "Okay.  Neil we can see you coming down the ladder now."

It was not the clearest of television broadcasts but there was no doubt that history was being made.  The lighting conditions were very difficult for the camera. The Lunar Module ladder was in the shadow of the LM while the lunar horizon was bathed in stark sunshine.

Armstrong dropped from the last rung on the ladder to the LM footpad.  At 4 days, 13 hours, 23 minutes, and 38 seconds Armstrong reported, "I'm at the foot of the ladder.  The LM footpads are only depressed in the surface about 1 or 2 inches, although the surface appears to be very, very fined grained, as you get close to it.  It's almost like a powder.  Down there it's very fine."  Armstrong then told Houston, "Okay.  I'm going to step off the LM now."

On July 20, 1969,
at 9:56:45 PM Central Daylight Time, Neil Alden Armstrong became the first person in the history of mankind to set foot on another world.  As Armstrong stepped on to the surface he proclaimed, "That's one small step for [a] man; one giant leap for mankind."

From inside the Lunar Module, Aldrin lowered a Hasseblad camera down to Armstrong.  Armstrong did a quick photo survey of the landing site and then proceeded with the high priority task of getting a contingency sample of the lunar surface.  The contingency sample was taken as a precaution in the event that the EVA had to be terminated early.

As he obtained the sample, Armstrong reported, "This is very interesting.  It's a very soft surface, but here and there where I plug with the contingency sample collector, I run into a very hard surface, but it appears to be a cohesive material of some sort.  I'll try to get a rock in here.  Just a couple."

At 4 days, 13 hours, 34 minutes, and 54 seconds, Aldrin commented to Armstrong, "That looks beautiful from up here, Neil."  Armstrong replied, "It has a stark beauty all it's own.  It's like much of the high desert of the United States.  It's different but it's very pretty out here.  Be advised that a lot of rock samples out here, the hard rock samples, have what appear to be vesicles in the surface.  Also I'm looking at one now that appears to have some sort of phenochryst."

Soon it was time for Aldrin to join his comrade on the lunar surface.  Armstrong watched from below and guided Aldrin as he backed out of the hatch.  Aldrin proceeded down the ladder and dropped from the last run to the LM footpad.

At 4 days, 13 hours, 43 minutes, and 16 seconds Aldrin exclaimed, "Beautiful view!"  Armstrong replied, "Isn't that something! Magnificent sight out here."  Aldrin responded, "Magnificent desolation." 
Edwin Eugene (Buzz) Aldrin, Jr. became the second man to walk on the Moon.

The television camera was removed from the Mesa and set up on a tripod away from the Lunar Module.  Early in the EVA, Aldrin deployed an experiment intended to capture particles from the solar wind.  Armstrong and Aldrin erected an American flag on the surface near the Lunar Module.  Armstrong captured a photo of Aldrin saluting the flag.

At 4 days, 13 hours, 52 minutes, and 40 seconds Armstrong and Aldrin unveiled a plaque attached to the front landing gear on the descent stage of the lunar lander.  This plaque was destined to remain on the Moon long after Armstrong and Aldrin departed.

Armstrong commented, "For those who haven't read the plaque, we'll read the plaque that's on the front landing gear of this LM.  First, there's two hemispheres, one showing each of the hemispheres of the Earth.  Underneath it says 'Here man from the planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon, July 1969 A.D.  We came in peace for all mankind.'  It has the crew members' signatures and the signature of the President of the United States."

At 4 days, 14 hours, 16 minutes, and 30 seconds, the President of the United States, Richard Milhouse Nixon telephoned Armstrong and Aldrin from the Oval Office of the White House.   During that time, Armstrong and Aldrin paused their EVA activities for the historic conversation.

President Nixon said, "Neil and Buzz, I am 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 [represent] for every American.  This has to be the proudest day of our lives.  And for the people of 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 of what you have done, and one in our prayers that you will return safely to Earth."

The phone call from the President had taken Aldrin by surprise.  Armstrong was aware that it might happen, but Aldrin was blind-sided.  Aldrin's heart beat shot up and he struggled to find something profound to say to the President.  Unable to come up with something, Aldrin deferred to his Commander to respond to President Nixon's statement.

Commander Armstrong responded, "Thank you, Mr. President.  It is 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 a curiosity and a vision for the future.  It's an honor for us to be able to participate here today."

Nixon continued, "And thank you very much and I look forward - All of us look forward to seeing you on the Hornet on Thursday."  Lunar Module Pilot Aldrin responded, "I look forward to that very much, sir."

Armstrong and Aldrin collected lunar samples, took photographs and made observations of the lunar geology and of the condition of the Lunar Module. They set up experiments that included a passive seismometer and a laser reflector.

At 4 days, 15 hours, 24 minutes, and 53 seconds, it was time for LMP Aldrin to leave the lunar surface and get back in the lunar module.  Aldrin told Armstrong, "Okay, adios amigo."  Armstrong responded, "Okay."  Aldrin asked CAPCOM McCandless, "Anything more before I head on up, Bruce?"  McCandless replied, "Negative.  Head on up the ladder, Buzz."

After Aldrin was back in the Lunar Module Armstrong prepared to send the lunar sample return containers up to Aldrin via a rope conveyor belt called the LEC.  Armstrong intended to send the Hasseblad film pack from the EVA up to Aldrin along with one of the lunar sample return containers.

As he was doing it, the film pack dropped off and fell to the lunar surface.  Armstrong commented, "Oh. Uh - oh.  The camera came off. I mean the film pack came off."  The pack would become coated with dust before Armstrong retrieved it to make another attempt to send it up to Aldrin.

Aldrin asked Armstrong, "How's it coming, Neil?"  Armstrong responded, "Okay.  I've one side hooked on to the second box and I've got the film pack on."  CAPCOM McCandless asked Armstrong, "Neil, this is Houston.  Did you get the Hasseblad magazine?"  Armstrong replied, "Yes, I did.  And we got about, I'd say, 20 pounds of carefully selected, if not documented, samples."

Armstrong headed up the ladder to join Aldrin in the Lunar Module. The EVA lasted for 2 hours, 31 minutes and 40 seconds.  Aldrin closed the hatch on the lunar module.   The hatch was closed at 4 days, 15 hours 39 minutes and 13 seconds into the flight.  Aldrin reported, "Okay.  The hatch is closed and latched, and verified secure." 
The Lunar Module was repressurized.

Armstrong and Aldrin then to removed their Portable Life Support Systems (PLSS).  The backpacks that provided them with oxygen and cooling while on the lunar surface would be discarded and would remain behind on the Moon.   To reduce the weight of the Lunar Module Ascent stage, other equipment, that was no longer needed, would be thrown out along with any trash that had accumulated.

The cabin was once again depressurized and the superfluous equipment was thrown over the porch of the LM.  After completing that activity, the hatch was closed once again and the cabin was repressurized.

CAPCOM McCandless reported to the Armstrong and Aldrin, "Roger Tranquility.  We saw your equipment jettison on the TV, and the passive seismic experiment recorded shocks when each PLSS hit the surface.  Over."  Armstrong responded, "You can't get away with anything anymore, can you?"

The cabin was repressurized and Armstrong and Aldrin were then able to remove their spacesuits.  A question and answer session was conducted to respond to questions that scientists back in Houston had come up with.  The crew bedded down for the night with Aldrin curled up on the floor and Armstrong laying across the ascent engine cover with a makeshift hammock.

At 12:54 PM Central Daylight Time on July 21, 1969, Armstrong and Aldrin fired the ascent engine on the lunar module to send them on their way to rendezvous with Collins who was still orbiting overhead in Columbia.  Lunar liftoff occurred at 5 days, 4 hours, 22 minutes, and 0 seconds into the flight.

At 5 days, 8 hours, 3 minutes, and 0 seconds Eagle was docked with Columbia.  The crew transferred their lunar cargo to the Command Module and then jettisoned the Eagle's ascent stage at 130 hours, 9 minutes, and 31 seconds.  The ascent stage was no longer needed.  It was destined to crash into the Moon at some future point in time when its orbit decayed.

At 5 days, 10 hours, 30 minutes and 1 second into the flight a separation maneuver was performed by the Command Service Module to increase the distance between it and the spent ascent stage.

After orbiting the Moon for about 5 more hours, Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins fired the Service Propulsion System engine on the Service Module.  This Trans Earth Injection maneuver occurred at 5 days, 15 hours, 23 minutes and 42 seconds.  It accelerated the Command Service Module to escape velocity from the lunar gravity.  The Command Service Module had orbited the Moon for 31 revolutions.

At 6 days, 6 hours, 29 minutes, and 57 seconds, a midcourse correction maneuver was conducted by the Command Service Module to more precisely align the vehicle for the remainder of its voyage back to the Earth.

In preparation for reentry, the Command Module separated from the Service Module at 8 days, 2 hours, 49 minutes and 12 seconds into the flight.  The point at which the Command Module first encounters the atmosphere of the Earth is called Entry Interface.  This occurred at 8 days 3 hours, 3 minutes and 5 seconds into the flight.

At 10:50:35 AM Central Daylight Time, on July 24th, 1969, Columbia with her historic crew splashed down in the Pacific Ocean. Splashdown occurred at 195 hours, 18 minutes and 35 seconds into the flight.  The duration of the flight was 8 days, 3 hours, 18 minutes, and 35 seconds.  The primary recovery ship for Apollo 11 was the USS Hornet.

The mission for Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins had not ended yet.  They were quarantined at a biological isolation ward at the Lunar Receiving Laboratory at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas for three weeks following the flight.  During that time tests and observations were made to ensure that they had not brought any deadly pathogens back from the Moon.

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UPDATED : January 6, 2007
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