On this day in 1969, an estimated one million people gathered from all over the state to see the giant Saturn 5 booster rocket blast off from Cape Kennedy, Florida. It's purpose was to launch the Apollo 11 space rocket, together with its three man crew, into orbit around the earth , its ultimate mission to attempt to land the first human beings on the moon. The three astronauts on board, Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin 'Buzz' Aldrin (pictured above right) were all experienced space travellers, having been involved in the earlier Gemini manned space missions.
The launch was on schedule (1332 GMT), nine seconds before lift-off the rockets five engines ignited, sending a sheet of flame over the launch pad and about 20 acres of surrounding marshland. With an immense roar, the booster rocket took off into the sky, taking the Apollo 11 and the hopes of mankind with it.
Just 12 minutes later, Apollo 11 was in orbit around the Earth. Two hours and forty four minutes after take-off, the third stage booster was fired for 5 minutes and 47 seconds catapulting the astronauts out of orbit at 24,545mph and safely on their way to the moon. Flight Commander, Neil Armstrong, reported back to Earth, "We have no complaint with any of the three stages on that ride. It was beautiful." Apollo II was scheduled to touch down on the Moon on Sunday 20 July if all went well. At a news conference before the launch Neil Armstrong had said the landing on the Moon, and the take-off from it, were "the big unknowns" faced by the astronauts.
The lunar model itself, known as Eagle, was scheduled to land on the Moon at (2000 GMT).
On 21 July 1969, right on schedule, Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the Moon, stepping onto the Moon's surface in the Sea of Tranquility at (0256GMT). He was joined by Buzz Aldrin 20 minutes later. The entire event was watched by millions live on television around the world.
The Apollo 11 crew returned safely on 24 July and spent the next 21 days in quarantine - no alien organisms were found.