Man First Walks on the Moon

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Apollo 11
Exploring the Moon

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the Moon, the first people ever to do so.

Ever since the blastoff of Sputnik, the Soviet Union's satellite, in 1957, the United States had wanted to beat the Soviets in the Space Race. And beat them they did, in succeeding in walking on the Moon.

The endeavor was a scientific one as well, in essence an exploration of Earth's only satellite with an eye toward a better understanding of how and why Earth is the way it is. After 10 missions, getting ever closer to the landing, NASA launched Apollo 11 on July 16. Four days later, first Armstrong and then Aldrin set foot on the Moon. Michael Collins remained behind in the command module. In a live broadcast, Armstrong assured people around the world that they had come in peace, "for all mankind."

The first of six moon landings, Apollo 11 set the tone for future expeditions by excavating rocks and dust from the Moon's surface and testing the effects of less-than-Earth gravity on such things as men and machines. The expedition was a huge hit, sparking interest in space exploration around the world.

Four days later, Apollo 11 splashed down in the Pacific Ocean. All three astronauts had returned safely and brought back with them important souvenirs for all to see. The exploration of space had begun.

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Social Studies for Kids
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David White