This summer marks the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Everyone knows the famous photographs of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walking on the surface of the moon. Lesser-known are the photos of what took place back on Earth. Recently, we searched the NASA images archive for some of the seldom-seen images of the 1969 lunar mission. These images show the trappings of the space age: Engineers in skinny ties, scientists with serious expressions, space buffs camping out in Detroit-built station wagons, and above all, the sublime awesomeness of being an astronaut.
Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong, seen with the helicopter he flew to practice landing the Lunar Module.
July 9, 1969: A week before the launch, the astronauts reported to the flight crew training building of the NASA Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins arrived carrying a cup of coffee.
Apollo 11 astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin arrives arrival at the flight crew training building.
July 15, 1969: Collins, Armstrong and Aldrin, spoke to the press the night before launch.
July 16, 1969: Apollo Program Director Lieutenant General Samuel C. Phillips monitored pre-launch activities from the Kennedy Space Flight Center control room.
July 16, 1969: Thousands of people camped out on beaches and roads adjacent to the Kennedy Space Center to watch the Apollo 11 liftoff.
A million spectators came to the spaceport to witness the historic launch. Some camped on the beach.
Vice President Spiro Agnew and former President Lyndon B. Johnson watched the liftoff, July 16, 1969, 9:32 am EDT.
Apollo 11 mission officials relaxed after the successful liftoff. From left to right are: Charles W. Mathews, Deputy Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight; Dr. Wernher von Braun, Director of the Marshall Space Flight Center; George Mueller, Associate Administrator for the Office of Manned Space Flight; Lt. Gen. Samuel C. Phillips, Director of the Apollo Program.
With the mission underway, reporters interviewed the family of Neil Armstrong.
Dr. Robert R. Gilruth, Director of the Manned Spacecraft Center, followed progress of the lunar landing mission from his console in Houston’s Mission Control Center.
Flight controllers and mission officials celebrated the return of the astronauts to earth.
Aldrin, Armstrong, and Collins were flown by helicopter to the U.S.S. Hornet. They wore biological isolation garments they donned while still in the spacecraft.
Immediately, the astronauts were placed in quarantine.
The mobile quarantine facility was transported from Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, to the NASA Manned Spacecraft Center Lunar Receiving Laboratory in Houston, Texas.
The astronauts bow their heads in a prayer offered by USS Hornet Chaplain Lt. Commander John Pirrto. President Richard Nixon stands at right.
The astronauts were kept under quarantine for three weeks. Here are Armstrong, Collins and Aldrin seen through the window of the Mobile Quarantine Facility.
Friends and family greeted the astronauts as they emerged from the quarantine on August 10, 1969.
The astronauts were international celebrities. A goodwill tour carried them to 24 countries and 27 cities in 45 days. Thousands swarmed them during a parade in Mexico City on September 23, 1969.