Half a century ago, while those on Earth were enjoying a lazy Sunday in the summer of '69, some 384,000 km away, two men were climbing down the steps of their spaceship – onto the surface of the moon.

Those men were then 38-year-old Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon, and Edwin 'Buzz' Aldrin. A third astronaut, Michael Collins, remained on the Command Module Columbia in lunar orbit while Armstrong and Aldrin explored the Sea of Tranquility region.

Armstrong's first step was watched by 600 million back on Earth. His now-famous quote is transcribed by NASA as, "That's one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind", because, in one the world's most famous misquotes, Armstrong always insisted that's what he actually said.

He spent 19 minutes standing on the moon, before Aldrin joined him – and he photographed Aldrin coming down the ladder of the lunar module Eagle. The pair spent more than two hours gathering moon rocks before returning to the Eagle.

Here, shared by NASA for the first time, is a unique glimpse of that extraordinary day in the history of humanity.


Down the ladder

Astronaut Edwin E Aldrin Jr, Lunar Module (LM) pilot descends from the LM, climbing down the ladder. Lunar horizon visible in background.  Image taken at Tranquility Base during the Apollo 11 Mission. Original film magazine was labeled S.  Film Type: Ektachrome EF SO168 color film on a 2.7-mil Estar polyester base taken with a 60mm lens. Sun angle is Medium. Tilt direction is Northeast (NE).
Buzz Aldrin leaves the lunar module Eagle and prepares to walk on the moon. This photo was taken by his fellow astronaut Neil Armstrong, with a 70 mm lunar surface camera.
Image: NASA


Footprints in moondust

Buzz Aldrin walks on the surface of the moon near a leg of the lunar module during the Apollo 11
Image: NASA

Dark side of the moon

AS11-42-6179 (19 July 1969) --- This photograph of the solar corona was taken from the Apollo 11 spacecraft during trans-lunar coast and prior to lunar orbit insertion. The moon is the dark disc between the spacecraft and the sun.
This photograph showing the solar corona was taken from the Apollo 11 spacecraft before reaching the moon – the dark disc between the spacecraft and the sun.
Image: NASA


Back to Earth

ASCENT STAGE PRIOR TO DOCKING WITH CSM
After exploring the moon's surface, Armstrong and Aldrin returned to the Eagle to prepare for liftoff. The lunar module had its own propulsion system, and an engine to lift it off the moon and send it towards the orbiting command module. In this photograph, its ascent is seen with the Earth in the background, just before the rendezvous with the command module.
Image: NASA