What date was the Apollo 11 moon landing mission launched and how far away is the moon?

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CELEBRATIONS are being held to mark the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, the mission that first successfully put men on the moon.

But when was it launched, and what’s the distance between Earth and the moon?

A week of celebrations has been kicked off to mark each day of Apollo 11’s eight-day voyage
EPA

What date was the Apollo 11 moon landing mission launched?

Nasa’s first Lunar landing mission, Apollo 11, launched on July 16, 1969.

The massive Saturn V rocket lifted off from Nasa’s Kennedy Space Center with astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin at 9.32am EDT.

Nasa says that the primary objective of Apollo 11 was to complete a national goal set by President John F Kennedy on May 25, 1961: to perform a crewed lunar landing and return to Earth.

Additional goals were to carry out scientific exploration by the lunar module, Eagle, and to extensively photograph the lunar surface.

Four days later, on July 20, an estimated 650million people watched Armstrong’s televised image, and heard him proclaim that he had taken “one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind”.

On July 24, 1969, all three astronauts came back to Earth safely after splashing down off Hawaii.

News agency the Associated Press reports that it took 400,000 people to put Armstrong and Aldrin on the moon a half-century ago.

That massive workforce stretched across the US and included engineers, scientists, mechanics, technicians, pilots, divers, seamstresses, secretaries and more who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to achieve those first lunar footsteps.

How far away is the moon?

According to Nasa, the moon is an average of 238,855 miles away from Earth, which is the equivalent of about “30 Earths away”.

But, it points out, the moon is not always the same distance from Earth, as the orbit is not a perfect circle.

When the moon is farthest away, the distance stretches to 252,088 miles away – almost 32 Earths.

At its closest, it’s 225,623 miles away, or, between 28 and 29 Earths.

However, it seems close to us, because we can see it so well without a telescope.

Photo from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) shows the moon and ‘Eagle’ Lunar Module during ascent over Mare Smythii with the Earth seen on the horizon on July 20, 1969
EPA

What did Nasa say about the Apollo 11 mission back in 1969?

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) issued a press release about the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission on July 6, 1969, 10 days before the launch.

It said that the US “will launch a three-man spacecraft toward the moon on July 16 with the goal of landing two astronaut-explorers on the lunar surface four days later.

“If the mission – called Apollo 11 – is successful, man will accomplish his long-time dream of walking on another celestial body.

“The first astronaut on the Moon’s surface will be 38-year-old Neil A. Armstrong of Wapakoneta, Ohio, and his initial act will be to unveil a plaque whose message symbolises the nature of the journey.

“It bears a map of the Earth and this inscription: Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the moon July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.

“During their 22-hour stay on  the lunar surface, Armstrong and Aldrin will spend up to 2 hours and 40 minutes outside the lunar module, also gathering samples of lunar surface material and deploying scientific experiments which will transmit back to Earth valuable data on the lunar environment.”

Nasa added that “one experiment measures moonquakes and meteoroid impacts on the lunar surface while the other experiment is a sophisticated reflector that will mirror laser beams back to points on Earth to aid in expanding scientific knowledge both of this planet and of the moon.”

Above: Nasas press release on July 6 contained illustrations of the Apollo 11 mission
NASA
Landing on the moon
NASA
Nasa also showed what would happen once on the lunar surface
NASA

 

 

 

 

 

 

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