Neil Armstrong stepped from the Apollo 11 lunar lander onto the surface of the moon in July 1969. “That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind,” came his static-interrupted communication from a quarter of a million miles away from Earth. Armstrong’s ghostly black and white image accompanied that transmission after he stepped from the ladder of the lunar lander.
For the first time, someone walked on a surface other than that of Earth. The image was seen and the words were heard by billions watching TV and listening on radio.
It was a moment that had been years in the making; the efforts of many people in many disciplines in many countries. Yes, it was an American who was first; but the world exulted in the accomplishment.
Now — 50 years on — we look back at that effort, and find new awe in the deed. It was achieved with technology that is primitive by today’s standards. The feats of the crews of the six lunar landings have not been repeated since the last of twelve astronauts walked on the moon in December 1972.