Neil A. Armstrong
U.S. astronautThat's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. On July 20, 1969, at 10:56 p.m. EDT, American astronaut Neil Armstrong, 240,000 miles from earth, gave a brief statement before stepping of the Eagle landing module and onto the moon. Back on earth, close to a billion people were listening. A moment later, Armstrong put his left foot into the powdery lunar surface, took a few steps, and humanity had walked on the moon. Another astronaut, Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin, joined him a few minutes later, and together they took photographs of the terrain, planted a U.S. flag, ran a few simple scientific tests, and spoke with U.S. President Richard M. Nixon via Houston. By early the next morning, both astronauts were back in the lunar module and the hatch was closed. They slept that night on the surface of the moon, and at 1:54 p.m. on July 21, the Eagle began its ascent back to the Apollo 11 command module. Among the items left on the surface of the moon was a plague that read: ‘Here men from the planet Earth first set foot on the Moon--July 1969 A.D--We came in peace for all mankind.’ Later that afternoon, Aldrin and Armstrong successfully docked with the command module, which was piloted by a third astronaut, Michael Collins. On July 24, the three men returned to earth, safely splashing down in the Pacific Ocean.