LOS ANGELES - Fifty years ago, the Apollo 11 spacecraft lifted off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida with a three-man crew. Two of them would be the first men to walk on the moon.
The Apollo 11, which was part of the Apollo Program, took off at 8:32 a.m. on July 16, 1969. It was set to be the first lunar landing of the program, according to the Lunar and Planetary Institute.
Aboard the 363-foot spacecraft were three astronauts: Neil Armstrong, mission commander, Michael Collins, command module pilot and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, lunar module pilot.
The crew traveled for a little more than three days to reach the moon’s orbit. Then, they made history.
On July 20, Armstrong and Aldrin became the first humans to land on the moon. Armstrong was then the first person to walk on the space rock, famously saying, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Aldrin eventually joined Armstrong on the moon’s surface, where photos were taken and the men spoke with then-President Richard Nixon through central command in Houston, according to The History Channel.
The Apollo 11 was also the fifth manned flight of the command and service modules in the series and the third flight of a lunar module, which Armstrong and Aldrin used to get to the moon’s surface.
NASA tweeted that it will begin its 50-year celebration of the moon launch and landing starting Tuesday, with a reflection on the launch. Aldrin and Collins will reunite at the launch pad and be part of a question-and-answer session at Kennedy Space Center.
For the full list of special events taking place ahead of Saturday’s big anniversary, click here.