1969 Moon Landing — The First Man on the Moon

First Human on the Moon, with LIBERTY FLAGS, The American Wave®

Our Lunar Legacy

As of this writing, the United States is the only country to have crew members walk on the Moon — in fact, we did so six times between 1969 and 1972.

The first of these missions was Apollo 11. The spaceflight was launched on July 16, 1969, and returned to Earth on July 24, 1969…

On July 20th, 1969, Commander Neil Armstrong and Lunar Module Pilot Buzz Aldrin landed the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle on the surface of the Moon. On July 21st, 1969, at 02:56 UTC, Neil Armstrong became the first human to step onto the lunar surface. Buzz Aldrin followed 19 minutes later.

Earth as seen from the Moon, with LIBERTY FLAGS, The American Wave®

The Small Step and The Giant Leap

When Neil Armstrong descended the ladder of the lunar module and stepped onto the surface of the Moon, the event was broadcast worldwide. Armstrong is remembered for his famous and descriptive quote, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Of course, the mission began eight years earlier when John F. Kennedy proposed the national goal of “landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.” While Neil Armstrong’s step onto the powdery surface of the moon was a small step for man, the overall mission to send people to the moon and bring them back safely was the giant leap for mankind.

American-made U.S. Flag on the Moon, with LIBERTY FLAGS, The American Wave®

The Space Race and the American Flag

This story would be incomplete without a nod to the international competition that started it all. President Kennedy was not shy about acknowledging that the impetus behind the mission to the Moon was delivering a message to Russia and to the world that the United States was the most advanced and capable nation on the planet.

While there was some conversation about planting a United Nations flag on the first landing, the consensus ultimately was to plant a U.S. flag. Starting with the first lunar landing, an American flag was planted each of the six times humans walked on the Moon.

There is no wind in space, so the American-made 3x5 Nylon American flags were assembled with a horizontal pole through a hemmed pocket to support the top of the flag and to make it appear to fly somewhat similarly to how it would float in the wind on Earth.

American Flag on the Moon, with LIBERTY FLAGS, The American Wave®

Lunar Landing Video Footage

For more on the lunar landing, here are some of the best videos we could find, including the entire flight sequence and the first planting of the American flag on the Moon.

Reading the Plaque and Planting the American Flag – 3 minutes

Flight Pattern Overview and Complete Landing Footage – 19 minutes

NASA Footage of the Historic Apollo 11 Moonwalk – 3 hours, 16 minutes

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