Less than a month later, on 20 July 1969, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin separated Apollo 11 's lunar module, the Eagle, from the command and service modules and began the descent to the surface of the Moon.
Soon after, the Eagle touched down on a flat area in the Sea of Tranquillity. The two astronauts checked the equipment, then Armstrong stepped out of the lunar module onto the powdery surface of the Moon, uttering the famous words: "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind." (A gap in transmission obscured the word "a" for most Earth-bound listeners.)
This historic mission was followed by five successful lunar landings: Apollos 12, 14,
15, 16, and 17. Apollo 13 was aborted on the way to the
Moon because of an explosion that ruptured an oxygen tank and damaged other systems.
Even this mission, however, was considered a victory of sorts—a catastrophe averted by the skill of the NASA team.
The Apollo Moon missions returned 844 pounds (382 kg) of rock and soil samples, : amazing photographs of lunar features, and a vast quantity of data generated by instruments set up on the surface. But that was not all it accomplished.
As one of the greatest technological feats of our species, it elevated our view of the place of humankind in the universe to unprecedented heights.