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TechnologyThe heart-stopping moments before Apollo 11 landed on the moon as the world watched

14:25  16 july  2019
14:25  16 july  2019 Source:   abcnews.go.com

Apollo moon rocks help transform understanding of the universe

Apollo moon rocks help transform understanding of the universe Moon rocks look rather nondescript -- they are often gray in color -- but for NASA planetary scientist Samuel Lawrence, they are the "most precious materials on Earth." What is certain is that the lunar samples first gathered by Apollo 11's Neil Armstrong nearly 50 years ago have helped transform our understanding of the cosmos. 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.

US moon landing approachesNational Geographic teamed up with " World News Tonight" to share some rare images of that momentous event. On July 16, 1969, families across the U.S. gathered in their living rooms -- and hundreds of millions around the world -- watched as the Apollo 11 lifted off

As the astronauts of the Apollo 11 mission left Earth, landed on the moon and made the long trip home, The New York Times sent photographers to capture the excitement and wonder of people watching the journey. We asked award-winning poet Adrian Matejka to write about those images.

The heart-stopping moments before Apollo 11 landed on the moon as the world watched© NASA/AFP/Getty Images In this file photo taken on July 20, 1969 astronaut Buzz Aldrin, lunar module pilot, walks on the surface of the moon during the Apollo 11 extravehicular activity (EVA).

Fifty years ago this week, the Apollo 11 astronauts -- Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins -- suited up as America waited with bated breath: would the trio be the first Americans to set foot on the moon?

It was a grand, new goal that was first set by President John F. Kennedy.

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Apollo 11 was the spaceflight that first landed humans on the Moon . Commander Neil Armstrong and lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin formed the American crew that landed the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle

(MORE: Revisiting the heart - stopping moments before Apollo 11 landed on the moon with the world watching ). In October 1968, the year before the moon landing , average public trust in government dipped to 62%, and the year after the landing , in December 1970, it decreased further to

"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," he said in May 1961.

(MORE: 50 Years Later: The Apollo 11 experiment that's still sending data from the moon)

Astronauts who were preparing for the U.S. first lunar mission followed a complex training program. There were simulations. They walked in their spacesuits. They completed tests in the water.

Americans counted the days -- with so many questions about the mission -- as did NASA. And then it was time.

Watch the full film "Apollo: Mission to the Moon" at NatGeoTV.com

On July 16, 1969, families across the U.S. gathered in their living rooms -- and hundreds of millions around the world -- watched as the Apollo 11 lifted off into space.

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Astronaut Neil Armstrong made history on July 20, 1969, when he became the first man to set foot on the moon . Watch the historic Apollo 11 moments as the world witnessed them 50 years ago. Find out what's happening in the world as it unfolds.

'I helped the world watch the Moon landing ' Jump to media player About 600 million were watching in 1969 - thanks largely to an unlikely outpost in rural Australia. Apollo 11 : Michael Collins on Moon mission Jump to media player As the 50th anniversary approaches Michael Collins reflects on his role

After traveling 240,000 miles in 76 hours, Apollo 11 entered in a lunar orbit. The next day, the lunar module Eagle, with Armstrong and Aldrin inside, separated from the command module where Collins remained.

Hours later, the Eagle began its descent to the moon. But then, there was an alarm.

"12-02. Standby," Mission Control could be heard saying.

(MORE: 50 Years Later: From bras and girdles to a spacesuit fit for the moon)

Mission Control at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston housed the engineers and flight directors who worked tirelessly to ensure Apollo 11's mission was a success.

A "12-02" alarm meant that the lunar module's computer was overloaded. If the problem could not be corrected, the landing would need to be aborted.

"Give us a reading on the 12-02 program alarm," Armstrong could be heard saying.

(MORE: 50 years later: Apollo 11 flight director returns to restored 'Houston')

The control room responded with silence.

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JUST WATCHED . See the moon landing as they did 50 years ago. Walter Cronkite speaks during the Apollo 11 mission, broadcast by CBS-TV, July 1969. Through all times the moon has endured out there, pale and distant, determining the tides and tugging at the heart , a symbol, a beacon, a goal.

For the first crewed Moon landing , see Apollo 11 and Apollo program. An estimated 500 million people worldwide watched this event, the largest television audience for a live broadcast at that time.[1][2]. A Moon landing is the arrival of a spacecraft on the surface of the Moon .

They would continue with the mission.

Armstrong flew the lunar module manually, evading boulders in their planned landing location. With the fuel running critically low, Apollo flight director Gene Kranz, back in Mission Control, gave a 60-seconds-to-abort warning.

The heart-stopping moments before Apollo 11 landed on the moon as the world watched© NASA The Apollo 11 Lunar Module (LM) "Eagle" was the first crewed vehicle to land on the Moon.

Critical minutes passed and then Armstrong could be heard saying: "The Eagle has landed."

(MORE: 50 years later: 'One Giant Leap' author on the lasting impact of Apollo 11's mission to the moon)

"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," Mission Control could be heard responding.

"Thank you," Aldrin said.

Then, there was the sound of applause in Apollo Mission Control in Houston as some wiped away tears.

Armstrong bounded across the moon's surface on July 20, 1969. From the moon, he said those famous words: "That's one small step for man. One giant leap for mankind."

Nineteen minutes later, it was Aldrin’s turn to take his first steps.

For Apollo 11's moon landing anniversary, the Washington Monument was made to look like a rocket

For Apollo 11's moon landing anniversary, the Washington Monument was made to look like a rocket The Washington Monument just got even more iconic. On Tuesday, the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch, the 555-foot national symbol lit up with an image of the moon-bound shuttle blasting into space. The 363-foot projection of the Saturn V rocket will appear for two hours every night during the anniversary of the mission that put the first two humans -- both Americans -- on the moon.

"Beautiful view!" he said.

President Richard Nixon spoke to Aldrin and Armstrong while they were in space, telling them: "I just can't tell you how proud we all are."

Yet, back in Apollo Mission Control in Houston, after the cheering and the tears, they knew they had a lot of work still left to do as they guided the men back home.

The heart-stopping moments before Apollo 11 landed on the moon as the world watched© ABC News David Muir traveled to Apollo Mission Control in Houston to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the U.S. landing on the moon.
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