Apollo 11 Mission Logo

By 1961, having successfully deployed the first artificial satellite - via a missile capable of delivering a thermonuclear warhead to the United States - and putting the first man in space, the Soviet Union had a sizable lead in the Space Race. The United States wasn't far behind, but being second-best wasn't an option. President John F. Kennedy went to Congress on May 25, 1961, to ask for funding for a bold new goal: putting an American on the moon by the end of the decade.

Development on what would become the Saturn V began in 1962 at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, under the direction of Wernher von Braun.

Despite the tragic failure of Apollo 1, the astronauts, scientists, and engineers remained steadfast in their determination. By December 1968, Apollo 8 became the first manned spacecraft to leave low Earth orbit, reach the Moon, orbit it, and return.

At 9:32 AM Eastern on July 16, 1969, Apollo 11 launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying the first men to the moon, solidifying the United States as the world leader in space exploration.

"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." - President John F. Kennedy, May 25, 1961

Apollo 11 Saturn V on Launch Pad 39A

Apollo 11 Saturn V on Launch Pad 39A

July 1, 1969

Liftoff of Apollo 11

Liftoff of Apollo 11

July 16, 1969

Apollo 11 Liftoff from Launch Tower Camera

Apollo 11 Liftoff from Launch Tower Camera

July 16, 1969

Earthrise Viewed from Lunar Orbit Prior to Landing

Earthrise Viewed from Lunar Orbit Prior to Landing

July 20, 1969

Buzz Aldrin on the Lunar Module Footpad

Buzz Aldrin on the Lunar Module Footpad

July 20, 1969

Aldrin's Boot and Footprint in Lunar Soil

Aldrin's Boot and Footprint in Lunar Soil

July 20, 1969

Aldrin Poses for A Portrait

Aldrin Poses for A Portrait

July 1969

Aldrin Salutes the U.S. Flag

Aldrin Salutes the U.S. Flag

July 1969

Neil Armstrong's Flight Suit

Armstrong's Pressure Bubble Helmet

Armstrong's Extravehicular Visor

Amrstrong's Extravehicular Gloves

Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia

Columbia on Display at the National Air & Space Museum

Columbia Instrument Panel

See it in 360°

Columbia Instrument Panel