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Surface of the Moon


On July 20, 1969, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin walked on the Moon. Onboard Apollo Eleven, the Explorers Club flag, in miniature version to conserve space and weight, accompanied the mission. Apollo 11 reached the summit of the Apollo program, set in motion eight years earlier by President John F. Kennedy with one simple goal: To reach the surface of the Moon.

“The Eagle has wings.” The lunar module Eagle, with Armstrong and Aldrin aboard, separated from the command and service module Columbia, piloted by Michael Collins. Columbia would circle above, awaiting their return.

“The Eagle has landed.” The lunar module’s auto-pilot nearly carried its crew into a rocky crater, but Armstrong switched to manual controls and guided the craft to it’s intended destination, the level bed of the dusty Sea of Tranquility.

Moon2“One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” Armstrong descended from the Eagle and stepped onto the Moon. Then Aldrin did the same. The two men explored the lunar landscape on foot for two hours and thirty-one minutes. They collected soil samples. They deployed a seismometer to measure tremors and deployed a reflector allowing a laser beam shot from Earth to bounce back, the beam’s roundtrip travel time yielding a precise measurement of the Moon’s distance from our planet: 239,000 miles. And they planted the American flag—full-size.

The return trip meant three days’ silent cruise through space, then a 25,000 mile per hour ride through the Earth’s atmosphere at a blazing 4000 degree Fahrenheit hull temperature, then parachute deployment and splashdown. From the Sea of Tranquility to the Pacific Ocean, from one world to another, the crew of Apollo 11, carrying the Explorers Club flag, had returned home.

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Background image photography courtesy of members Christoph Baumer, Neil Laughton, Matt Harris and Don Walsh's image of the Bathyscape Trieste