Apollo 11

StarDate: July 16, 2009

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LAUNCH CONTROL: T-minus one minute, 35 seconds on the Apollo mission -- the flight to land the first men on the Moon. [fade audio under narration]

In May of 1961, President John F. Kennedy had set a goal for the United States and its young space program:

KENNEDY: I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.

By the summer of 1969, the decade was almost up. But 40 years ago today, astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin, and Michael Collins were ready to achieve Kennedy's goal. They were ready to head for the Moon.

LAUNCH CONTROL: Neil Armstrong just reported back, "It's been a real smooth countdown." [continue under narration]

Kennedy's goal was a product of the Cold War. The Soviet Union was beating America in the Space Race. It had put the first satellite in orbit, and the first man. To restore American prestige, Kennedy decided to take a bold step: beat the Soviets to the Moon.

It took a massive and expensive national effort to get the job done. But on July 16th, 1969, with hundreds of millions of people around the world watching on television, Apollo 11 climbed into the warm Florida sky -- on a path to the Moon.

LAUNCH CONTROL: 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0, all engine running. Liftoff! We have a liftoff, 32 minutes past the hour. Liftoff on Apollo 11.

More about Apollo 11 tomorrow.

Script by Damond Benningfield, Copyright 2009

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