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Apollo 11 - Eagle's Log

from the NASA History Program Office

All times are Eastern Daylight Time (EDT)


9:27 a.m.- Aldrin crawls into the lunar module and starts to power-up the spacecraft. About an hour later, Armstrong enters the LM and together they continue to check the systems and deploy the landing legs.

1:46 p.m.- The landing craft is separated from the command module, in which Collins continues to orbit the Moon.

2:12 p.m.- Collins fires the command ship's rockets and moves about two miles away.

3:08 p.m.- Armstrong and Aldrin, flying feet first and face down, fire the landing craft's descent engine for the first time.

3:47 p.m.- Collins, flying the command ship from behind the Moon, reports to Earth that the landing craft is on its way down to the lunar surface. It is the first Mission Control has heard of the action. "Everything's going just swimmingly. Beautiful!" Collins reports.

4:05 p.m.- Armstrong throttles up the engine to slow the LM before dropping down on the lunar surface. The landing is not easy. The site they approach is four miles from the target point, on the southwestern edge of the Sea of Tranquility. Seeing that they are approaching a crater about the size of a football field and covered with large rocks, Armstrong takes over manual control and steers the craft to a smoother spot. His heartbeat has risen from a normal 77 to 156.

While Armstrong flies the landing craft, Aldrin gives him altitude readings: "Seven hundred and fifty feet, coming down at 23 degrees . . . 700 feet, 21 down . . . 400 feet, down at nine . . . Got the shadow out there . . . 75 feet, things looking good . . . Lights on . . . Picking up some dust. . . 30 feet, 2 1/2 down . . . Faint shadow . . . Four forward. Four forward, drifting to the right a little . . . Contact light. Okay, engine stop."

When the 68-inch probes beneath three of the spacecraft's four footpads touch down, flashing a light on the instrument panel, Armstrong shuts off the ship's engine.

4:18 p.m.- The craft settles down with a jolt almost like that of a jet landing on a runway. It is at an angle of no more than four or five degrees on the right side of the Moon as seen from Earth. Armstrong immediately radios Mission Control: "The Eagle has landed."

Aldrin, looking out of the LM window, reports: "We'll get to the details around here, but it looks like a collection of just about every variety of shapes, angularities and granularities, every variety of rock you could find. The colors vary pretty much depending on how you're looking.... There doesn't appear to be much of a general color at all; however, it looks as though some of the rocks and boulders, of which there are quite a few in the near area . . . are going to have some interesting colors to them."

A few moments later he tells of seeing numbers of craters, some of them 100 feet across, but the largest number only one or two feet in diameter. He sees ridges 20 or 30 feet high, two-foot blocks with angular edges, and a hill half a mile to a mile away.

Finally, in describing the surface, Aldrin says: "It's pretty much without color. It's gray and it's a very white chalky gray, as you look into the zero phase line, and it's considerably darker gray, more like ashen gray as you look up 9O degrees to the Sun. Some of the surface rocks close in here that have been fractured or disturbed by the rocket engine are coated with this light gray on the outside but when they've been broken they display a dark, very dark gray interior, and it looks like it could be country basalt."

The first task after landing is that of preparing the ship for launching, of seeing that all is in readiness to make the ascent back to a rendezvous with the command spacecraft orbiting above.

6:00 p.m.- With everything in order, Armstrong radios a recommendation that they plan to start the EVA (Extra Vehicular Activity), earlier than originally scheduled, at about 9:OO p.m. EDT. Mission Control replies: "We will support you anytime."

10:39 p.m.- Later than proposed at 6:00 p.m., but more than five hours ahead of the original schedule, Armstrong opens the LM hatch and squeezes through the opening. It is a slow process. Strapped to his shoulders is a portable life support and communications system weighing 84 pounds on Earth, 14 on the Moon, with provision for pressurization; oxygen requirements and removal of carbon dioxide.

Armstrong moves slowly down the 10-foot, nine-step ladder. On reaching the second step, he pulls a "D-ring," within easy reach, deploying a television camera, so arranged on the LM that it will depict him to Earth as he proceeds from that point.

Down the ladder he moves and halts on the last step. "I'm at the foot of the ladder," he reports. "The LM footpads are only depressed in the surface about one or two inches. . . the surface appears to be very, very finegrained, as you get close to it, it's almost like a powder."

10:56 p.m.- Armstrong puts his left foot to the Moon. It is the first time in history that man has ever stepped on anything that has not existed on or originated from the Earth.

"That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind," Armstrong radios. Aldrin is taking photographs from inside the spacecraft.

The first print made by the weight of man on the Moon is that of a lunar boot which resembles an oversized galosh.

Its soles are of silicon rubber and its 14-layer sidewalls of aluminized plastic. Specially designed for super-insulation, it protects against abrasion and has reduced friction to facilitate donning. On Earth, it weighs four pounds, nine ounces. on the Moon, 12 ounces.

Armstrong surveys his surroundings for a while and then moves out, testing himself in a gravity environment one-sixth of that on Earth. "The surface is fine and powdery," he says. "I can pick it up loosely with my toe. It does adhere in fine layers like powdered charcoal to the sole and sides of my boots. I only go in a small fraction of an inch. Maybe an eighth of an inch, but I can see the footprints of my boots and the treads in the fine sandy particles.

"There seems to be no difficulty in moving around as we suspected. It's even perhaps easier than the simulations...."

Feeling more confident, Armstrong begins making a preliminary collection of soil samples close to the landing craft. This is done with a bag on the end of a pole.

"This is very interesting," he comments. "It's a very soft surface, but here and there . . . I run into a very hard surface, but it appears to be very cohesive material of the same sort.... It has a stark beauty all its own. It's like much of the high desert of the United States."

He collects a small bagful of soil and stores it in a pocket on the left leg of his space suit. This is done early, according to plan, to make sure some of the Moon surface is returned to Earth in case the mission has to be cut short.

11:11 p.m.- After lowering a Hasselblad still camera to Armstrong, Aldrin emerges from the landing craft and backs down the ladder, while his companion photographs him.

"These rocks . . . are rather slippery," Armstrong says. The astronauts report that the powdery surface seems to fill up the fine pores on the rocks, and they tend to slide over them rather easily.

Armstrong fits a long focal length lens into position on the TV camera and trains it upon a small, stainless steel plaque on one of the legs of the landing craft. He reads: "Here men from the planet Earth first set foot on the Moon. July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind." Below the inscription are the names of the Apollo crew and President Nixon.

Armstrong next removes the TV camera from its fixed position on the LM and moves it away about 40 feet so it can cover the area in which the astronauts will operate.

As scheduled, the astronauts set up the first of three experiments. From an outside storage compartment in the LM, Aldrin removes a foot-long tube containing a roll of aluminum foil. Inside the roll is a telescoped pole that is driven into the lunar surface, after which the foil is 

suspended from it, with the side marked "Sun" next to the Sun. Its function will be to collect the particles of "solar wind" blowing constantly through space so that they can be brought back and analyzed in the hope they will provide information on how the Sun and planets were formed.

11:41 p.m.- From a leg of the spacecraft, the astronauts take a three-by-five-foot, nylon United States flag, its top edge braced by a spring wire to keep it extended on the windless Moon and erect it on a staff pressed into the lunar surface.

Taken to the Moon are two other U.S. flags, to be brought back and flown over the houses of Congress, the flags of the 50 States, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories, the United Nations flag, as well as those of 136 foreign countries.

11:47 p.m.- Mission Control announces: "The President of the United States is in his office now and would like to say a few words to you." Armstrong replies: "That would be an honor."

11:48 p.m.- The astronauts listen as the President speaks by telephone: "Neil and Buzz. I am talking to you from the Oval Room at the White House. And this certainly has to be the most historic telephone call ever made For every American this has to be the proudest day of our lives. And for people all over the world I am sure they, too, join with Americans in recognizing what a feat this is. Because of what you have done, the heavens have become a part of man's world. As you talk to us from the Sea of Tranquility, it inspires us to redouble our efforts to bring peace and tranquility to Earth. For one priceless moment, in the whole history of man, all the people on this Earth are truly one."

As the President finishes speaking, Armstrong replies: "Thank you, Mr. President. It's a great honor and privilege for us to be here representing not only the United States but men of peace of all nations. And with interest and a curiosity and a vision for the future. It's an honor for us to be able to participate here today."

The two astronauts stand at attention, saluting directly toward the television as the telephone conversation concludes.

Armstrong next sets up a folding table and opens on it two specimen boxes. Using tongs and the lunar scoop, a quantity of rocks and soil are picked up and sealed in the boxes, preparatory to placing them in the ascent stage of the landing craft.

Aldrin, meanwhile, opens another compartment in the ship and removes two devices to be left on the Moon, taking each out about 30 feet from the ship. One is a seismic detector, to record moonquakes, meteorite impact, or volcanic eruption, and the other a laser-reflector, a device designed to make a much more precise measurement of Earth-Moon distances than has ever been possible before.


12:54 a.m.- After checking with Mission Control to make sure all chores have been completed, experiments set up, and photographs taken, Aldrin starts back up the ladder to re-enter the LM.

1:09 a.m.- Armstrong joins Aldrin in the landing craft.

1:11 a.m.- The hatch is closed. The astronauts begin removing the portable life support systems on which they have depended for two hours and 47 minutes.

4:25 a.m.- Astronauts are told to go to sleep, after attending to final housekeeping details and answering a number of questions concerning the geology of the Moon.

9:44 a.m.- Shortly after arousing Collins, still circling the Moon in the Command/Service Module, Mission Control observes: "Not since Adam has any human known such solitude as Mike Collins is experiencing during this 47 minutes of each lunar revolution when he's behind the Moon with no one to talk to except his tape recorder aboard Columbia."

11:13 a.m.- The astronauts in Eagle are aroused. Aldrin announces: "Neil has rigged himself a really good hammock . . . and he's been Iying on the hatch and engine cover, and I curled up on the floor."

12:42 p.m.- Answering a question raised before they went to sleep, Aldrin reports: "We are in a boulder field where boulders range generally up to two feet, with a few larger than that... Some of the boulders are Iying on top of the surface, some are partially exposed, and some are just barely exposed."

1:54 p.m.- Ascent engine is started and LM, using descent stage as a launch pad, begins rising and reaches a vertical speed of 80 feet per second at 1,000 feet altitude.

The astronauts take with them in the ascent stage the soil samples, the aluminum foil with the "solar wind" particles it has collected, the film used in taking photographs with still and motion picture cameras, the flags and other mementos to be returned to Earth. Behind they leave a number of items, reducing the weight of the ship from 15,897 pounds as it landed on the Moon to 10,821 pounds.

The largest item left behind is the descent stage, that part of the landing craft with the plaque on one of its spidery legs. Others include the TV camera, two still cameras, tools used in collecting samples, portable life support systems, lunar boots, American flag, rod support for the "solar wind" experiment instrument, laser beam reflector, seismic detector, and a gnomon, a device to verify colors of objects photographed.

5:35 p.m.- Eagle redocks with Columbia while circling on the back side of the Moon.

7:42 p.m.- The landing craft is jettisoned.