Apollo 11 Anniversary: It has been 50 years of NASA’s Apollo Mission widely referred as the biggest achievement of science till date. The Google doodle has an animated video in which astronaut Michel Collins narrates journey to the moon. On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong aboard NASA's Apollo 11 spacecraft launched from Cape Kennedy became the first man to set foot on the surface of Moon. Expressing what it means to humanity, Armstrong said, "That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Along with Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin and Michael Collins were the other astronauts chosen for the mission.
Apollo 11: What happened during the mission?
On July 20, Neil Armstrong, put his first step on the lunar surface - it was the first step by any human being on other planetary body. Armstrong said, "That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." Their spacecraft took four days to reach the Moon, before its lunar module, known as "Eagle,” touched the lunar surface on July 20, 1969. Armstrong emerged a few hours later.
The astronauts returned to earth on July 25, 1969 paving a way for many scientific discoveries following up the successful mission.
Apollo astronauts collected 842 pounds (382 kilograms) of rocks and soil during their six missions to the Moon between 1969 and 1972 and brought it all back to Earth. Studying Apollo rocks has given scientists an understanding of how the Moon was created, roughly at the same time as Earth some 4.3 to 4.4 billion years ago.
Armstrong's first step onto the lunar surface was broadcast on live TV to a worldwide audience. Apollo 11 effectively ended the Space Race and fulfilled a national goal proposed in 1961 by US President John F. Kennedy. 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 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.”
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.