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Apollo 11: Liftoff to Splashdown

Wednesday, July 16 9:32 a.m., Eastern Standard Time: After a 28-hour countdown, Apollo 11 blasts off from Cape Kennedy, Fla., atop the 363-foot Saturn 5 rocket. Commander Neil A. Armstrong, Command Pilot Michael Collins, and Lunar Module Pilot Edwin E. (Buzz) Aldrin are aboard. Midway through its second earth orbit, the craft is boosted toward the moon. Thursday, July 17 At 7:31 p.m., the crew begins the first of several color TV broadcasts. Friday, July 18 With the spacecraft 175,000 miles from Earth and 48,000 miles from the moon, the astronauts make another TV broadcast at 4:40 p.m. Saturday, July 19 ``The view of the moon that we've been having recently is really spectacular,'' reports Commander Armstrong. ``It fills about three-quarters of the hatch window and, of course, we can see the entire circumference, even though part of it is in complete shadow and part of it is in earthshine. It's a view worth the price of the trip.'' That afternoon, the ship passes behind the moon and out of radio contact for the first time. Sunday, July 20 9:27 a.m.: Aldrin and Armstrong enter the Lunar Module. Four hours later, the craft separates from the command module. At a little past 3 o'clock, flying feet first and face down on the lander, the two astronauts fire the descent engines. 4:05 p.m.: Armstrong throttles up the engine for landing; seeing they are approaching a landing site strewn with boulders, he takes manual control of the lander and flies it to a smoother site. 4:18 p.m. ``Houston, Tranquility Base here,'' Armstrong radios. ``The Eagle has landed.'' 10:39 p.m.: Armstrong opens the lunar module hatch and moves slowly down the ladder, deploying a TV camera as he goes. 10:56 p.m.: Armstrong sets foot on the moon: ``That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.'' Aldrin joins him on the surface 20 minutes later. They set up three experiments, unveil a plaque on the leg of the lander, and plant the American flag in lunar soil. 11:48 p.m.: President Nixon congratulates the astronauts by telephone. Monday, July 21 12:54 a.m.: Aldrin and Armstrong reenter the lander. 1:54 p.m.: Ascent engine is fired to return the astronauts to the command module orbiting above. Four hours later, they rejoin the mother ship. Tuesday, July 22 12:56 a.m.: Main engine is fired to send the astronauts back to Earth. Wednesday, July 23 7:03 p.m.: Final TV broadcast. Thursday, July 24 12:51 p.m.: Splashdown, 825 nautical miles southwest of Honolulu. Astronauts are picked up and taken to a quarantine trailer aboard the USS Hornet. They stay in the trailer until they arrive at the Lunar Receiving Laboratory in Houston early July 27.