On 16th July, 1969, the space craft Apollo 11 left earth to head for the moon.
On the 20th July, the rocket and its 3 astronauts landed safely on the moon’s surface.
There were 3 astronauts, but only 2 of them were to walk on the moon’s surface – Neil Armstrong first, followed by Edwin (Buzz) Aldrin.
Michael Collins was to remain in the capsule orbiting the moon, to make sure everything was running smoothly and prepare for the return to earth.
People on earth have been fascinated by what happens beyond our own atmosphere for centuries – there have been many papers and books written about space – fiction and non-fiction, and lots of inventions to look more closely, or to visit space.
Even after the Apollo 11 landed on the moon, there has been more research, and other space craft sent into space, with and without astronauts on board.
The most recent for us in the UK was Tim Peake’s journey out to the International Space Station (which is called Mir, the Russian word for peace – aptly, it’s also the Russian word for earth!)
But did you know that the first time humans looked at space through a telescope was in 1608?
The telscope was invented by a spectacles maker called Hans Lippershey, who lived in Holland (The Netherlands) and called his invention “kijker” (which means “looker”), and the first person to look at the moon through a telescope was Galileo Galilei (known to us usually as Galileo), the following year.
Galileo was a very well-known astronomer – he discovered that Jupiter had 4 moons, and he worked with other famous scientists of his time, making great discoveries about space, and about other scientifics principles.
The first time we sent a vehicle into space was October 1957, when the Soviets (Russians) send an unmanned space rocket called Sputnik 1 into space.
After that, a few more exploration crafts were sent into space, with Russian Luna 1 breaking through the eearths’ atmosphere, Luna 2 crash landing on the moon’s surface in 1959, and finally, the Russian Yuri Gagarin became the first human to orbit Earth in Vostok 1 on 12th April 1961.
Apollo 8 was the first craft to successfully land on the moon in 1968, and the following year, on 20th July 1969, Apollo 11 landed on the moon, and Armstrong and Aldrin alighted to walk on the surface, and collect samples for research back home.
Armstrong is famous for saying the words “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”, which was a scripted phrase he said when he stepped onto the moon.
The first moon landing was televised around the world, so everybody could watch it happen (if they had access to a television)
We’ve chosen some books about space and the moon landing, and listed them on our website – you can find fiction and fact books, so please follow this link to find out more!
Resources (where to find out more)