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Apollo 11 Moon Landing Timeline: From Liftoff to Splashdown

June 24, 2019 in History

By Dave Roos

Neil Armstrong’s celebrated “one small step” was far from the most dangerous maneuver in the effort to send three men to the moon and return them home a week later. See a timeline of the entire mission.

On July 20, 1969, just eight years after President John F. Kennedy threw down the Cold War gauntlet and announced the ambitious goal of “landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth,” NASA astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin planted the American flag in the dusty lunar soil.

Below is a timeline of the historic Apollo 11 flight from launch to splashdown.

Vice President Spiro Agnew and former President Lyndon B. Johnson view the liftoff of Apollo 11 from pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center at 9:32 am EDT on July 16, 1969.

Mission Time 00:00:00: Apollo 11 Launches

To overcome the Earth’s orbital gravity, NASA required a rocket 100 times more powerful than the Mercury boosters that launched the first American astronaut into orbit in 1961. The three-stage Saturn V was as big as a Navy destroyer, packed 7.5 million pounds of thrust and could catapult the Apollo 11 astronauts to a maximum velocity of 25,000 mph.

To fuel all that power, the Saturn V was filled to the brim with nearly a million gallons of kerosene, liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen. Michael Neufeld, a senior curator in the space history department of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, says that the ignition of the Saturn V boosters was the first of many tense moments on Apollo 11.

“If the Saturn V blew up on or near the launch pad, it would have the force of a small nuclear weapon,” says Neufeld.

02:44:16: One Loop Around Earth, Then Moon-Bound

After firing and jettisoning two of the Saturn V’s three engines, the spacecraft entered Earth’s orbit at nearly 120 miles above the surface. After one swing around the planet, the third-stage J-2 rocket ignited, hurling the Apollo astronauts out of near-Earth orbit and on a trajectory toward the moon.


Diagram of Lunar Landing Mission and time table of events for the scheduled July 16th blastoff of Apollo 11.

03:24:03: Vessels Rearrange in Space

Next came a truly tricky dance move. Aside from the Saturn V boosters, the Apollo 11 hardware consisted of three vessels: the Lunar Module (LM), codenamed “Eagle,” to transport two astronauts to and …read more

Source: HISTORY

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