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50 Years Ago On this Day, Apollo 11 Launched to the Moon, Beautiful Pictures Taken on the Apollo 11

50 Years Ago In this Day, Apollo 11 Launched to the Moon The Most Beautiful Pictures Taken on the Apollo 11 This is An Epic Day Look Back Again.

NASA's Saturn V rocket launched the Apollo 11 astronauts towards the moon on July 16, 1969. (Image: © NASA)
Today (July 16) marks 50 years since the start of their historic trip to the moon by astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. Around 6:45 a.m. 

The astronauts had consumed their steak-and-egg breakfasts this day in 1969, fitted in, and locked into the spacecraft. The moment's weight hung thick in the air and the world watched as the crew was ready to create the inaugural flight of humanity to the lunar surface.

NASA's Saturn V rocket sparked off at 9:32 a.m. and 7.6 million lbs. Thrust (34.5 million newtons) removed from launch pad 39A. Perfect weather met the launch of Apollo 11 and spectators flocked to Kennedy Space Center and Florida's surrounding region to glimpse the 363-foot (111-meter) tall rocket from Earth.

The astronauts on board Apollo 11 took some of the most famous – and beautiful – photographs in the world during their nine days in space.

16 July 1969 
Neil Armstrong is leading his crew on the Saturn V rocket. He carries his supply of oxygen and will walk on the Moon in four days. (Credit: Nasa)

The task starts at 09.32 EDT. Half an hour earlier, Armstrong said the crew was very comfortable: "This morning it's very good" (Credit: Nasa)

Armstrong takes this image of Michael Collins holding the TV camera for an hour on the journey. (Credit: Nasa)

The crew is hurting the Moon. They take this image as they look back at the Earth, which became one of the planet's most popular pictures during the Apollo program. (Credit: Nasa)

Here's Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin putting his sunglasses back inside the Eagle Lunar Module, the spacecraft that will bring him and Armstrong to the Moon. (Credit: Nasa)

Apollo 11 joined the orbit of the Moon, flying to the far side. They take pictures there, and Michael Collins exclaims about the mountains and craters on the lunar surface: "My gosh, they're monsters." (Credit: Nasa)

Lunar Module Eagle comes into touch with the Moon at 102 hours and 45 minutes into the task. They take pictures once Aldrin and Armstrong are out, including this iconic picture of their boot print on the ground. (Credit: Nasa)

On the lunar surface, Aldrin and Armstrong put up a U.S. flag and greetings from Aldrin. The top pole does not stretch correctly, leaving the flag partly folded. (Credit: Nasa)

Armstrong requires Aldrin's picture, but both of them are captured by the reflection in his visor as they stand on the Moon. It is the Apollo missions ' most reproduced picture. (Credit: Nasa)

Armstrong is thrilled with how well everything went back inside Lunar Module Eagle. He'll explain later that he felt that there wasn't enough time to do all they wanted. (Credit: Nasa)

21 July 1969 
The crew rejoins Columbia, which Michael Collins flew around the Moon, as the Lunar Module Eagle rejoins. On the far side of the Moon, Collins took this picture as Eagle approaches Columbia. You can see the Earth ascending behind you. (Credit: Nasa)

Now driving away from the Moon and on the way home, the crew are looking back and taking pictures of that excellent gray rock in the sky. (Credit: Nasa)

22 July 1969 
The crew are taking pictures of their approach to Earth on their manner back to a hero's welcome. South America is the prominent continent here, although it is hard to distinguish from this far away. (Credit: Nasa)

July 23, 1969 The crew struck halfway between the Moon and the Earth today. Here, in all its orange glory, you can see the Sahara desert. (Credit: Nasa)

24 July 1969 
The crew will land today so close to Earth that it fills more than the frames of their cameras. (Credit: Nasa)

"The tension in Mission Control was higher than in the spacecraft. We had communication problems and we had a computer problem that really got everyone's attention. Fortunately, the problem was diagnosed and we continued down." 
--Charlie Duke, Apollo 16 astronaut and the capsule communicator (CAPCOM) for Apollo 11. 

No one could blame any NASA for celebrating the monumental accomplishment with a sip of alcohol or two, but that wasn't the case until later at least.

"We had what we called a state of the state a few minutes after they landed to make sure they were OK on the surface," Griffin said. "We didn't celebrate at touchdown, there was too much left to do."

But when the crew landed back on Earth, the room got pretty crazy — cigars were smoked, flags were waved," Griffin added, noting that they later went to a local bar and had a beer bust. "It was a crazy time."

Now 50 years later, America is getting ready to return to the Moon by 2024, and finally to Mars.

For many of the men and women who worked on Apollo 11, it was a job, one that came with enormous responsibility and pressure. In the moment, it was difficult to comprehend what actually happened. "No one joined the astronaut core to be a hero," Duke said. "We stay focused on our jobs. It's humbling on one hand and very satisfying on the other, but I don't wear a badge that says 'hero.'"

It wasn't until later, in some cases a few minutes, and in others, much, much later, that the impact was felt.

"After our debriefing, I walked out to my car, stuck the keys into the ignition and I couldn't start the car," Ahr said. "That's when it hit me when I realized what we had done. I just sat there for five minutes and kept saying, 'We landed on the Moon.'"

Amidst all the chaos inside Mission Control, Griffin said there was one thing that stood out about this unmatched triumph of the human spirit: pride.

"Not just for the whole country, but the whole world."

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