MOON LANDING. On 16 July 1969, half a million people gathered near Cape Canaveral (then Cape Kennedy), Florida. Their attention was focused on three astronauts—Neil A. Armstrong, Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., and Michael Collins—who lay in the couches of an Apollo spacecraft bolted atop a Saturn V launch vehicle, awaiting ignition of five clustered rocket engines to boost them toward the first lunar landing. This event took place eight years after President John F. Kennedy, in the wake of Soviet Sputnik and Vostok successes, issued a challenge to land men on the moon before 1970 and thus give the United States preeminence in space exploration. After twenty manned missions—two to the vicinity of the moon
itself—the National Aeronautics and Space Administration was ready to achieve that goal.
At 9:32 a.m., the Apollo 11 crew fired the 200,000-pound-thrust Saturn S-IVB stage to escape earth's gravitational field. On their way to the moon, the astronauts monitored systems, ate, and slept. Several times via television they showed scenes of the receding earth and their own cabin activities.
Early Saturday afternoon (19 July), the crew slowed their ship while on the back side of the moon to enter lunar orbit. Following this maneuver, Aldrin slid through a passageway into the lunar module, called Eagle, to test its systems and then returned to the command module Columbia so that he and the other crew members could sleep before the descent to the lunar surface.
On Sunday, Armstrong and Aldrin cut loose from the command module and headed toward the surface of the moon. Armstrong set the craft down at 4:17 p.m. (EDT), reporting, "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed." Six and one-half hours later, after donning a protective suit and life-sustaining backpack, Armstrong climbed down and set foot on lunar soil, saying, "That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind." Aldrin soon followed. Half a billion people watched on television as the two astronauts moved about on the lunar surface with its gravity one-sixth that of earth's.
While on the Sea of Tranquility, Armstrong and Aldrin deployed a television camera, raised the American flag, collected about forty-seven pounds of samples, talked with President Richard M. Nixon, set up scientific equipment, and gave millions of listeners a description of their experiences. After two hours of exploring, they returned to the lunar module, rested for eight hours, and then started the engine of the ascent stage to rejoin Collins, who was orbiting the moon in Columbia, late Monday afternoon. Discarding the Eagle, the astronauts fired the service module engine shortly after noon the next day to escape the lunar gravitational field for the return to earth.
Apollo 11 splashed down in the Pacific Ocean on Thursday, 24 July, a week and a day (195 hours) after departing the Florida launch site. The astronauts, greeted by Nixon aboard the U.S.S. Hornet, were kept in quarantine for sixteen days because scientists feared the introduction of pathogens from outer space (none was found).
Launius, Roger D. NASA: A History of the U.S. Civil Space Program. Malabar, Fla.: Krieger, 1994.
Lewis, Richard S. Appointment on the Moon. New York: Viking, 1969.
McDougall, Walter A. The Heavens and the Earth: A Political History of the Space Age. New York: Basic Books, 1985.
James M.Grimwood/a. r.
"Moon Landing." Dictionary of American History. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 9, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/moon-landing
"Moon Landing." Dictionary of American History. . Retrieved December 09, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/moon-landing
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
- Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
- In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.