Tuesday, July 19, 2011

42 years ago, man landed on the moon

Moon Landing
"Here men from the planet earth first set foot upon the moon July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind." – Inscription on plaque left on the moon by Apollo 11 astronauts

(RNN) - It is perhaps the crowning achievement in human history.

And it was a dream came true 42 years ago this week when Earth was joined by its only natural satellite in playing host to humans.

Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the moon July 20, 1969, fulfilling President John F. Kennedy's goal to surpass the Soviet Union in the space race. The United States sent five additional manned missions to the moon, and remains the only country to do so.

Describing the surface as "fine and powdery," Armstrong uttered one of the most famous lines ever spoken to mark the monumental event, and put the achievement into perspective.

"That's one small step for man. One giant leap for mankind."

For 2 1/2 hours, Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin explored the lunar surface, collected rock samples, photographed the surface of the moon, the Earth and each other, and placed an American flag to stake claim to being the first country to visit another celestial body.

"We wanted to do well," Armstrong said in a rare interview with CBS' 60 Minutes in 2005. "But more than that, you as a person hope you don't make any mistakes."

Armstrong said in the interview that the famous statement after stepping on the moon was meant to honor the countless number of individuals whose work helped make the lunar landing, and the entire space program, possible.

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