Fifty years ago, everyone alivep0 watched it all together.
When the Apollo 11 mission reached the Moon, humans set foot on another world for the first time. Television screens shared the momentous first steps in countries worldwide on July 20, 1969. News of the Moon landing spread across the world, captivating an entire generation and instilling an infectious sense of possibility for what was to come in space exploration.
Hear more Apollo stories on the NASA Explorers: Apollo podcast
A half-century later, NASA asked people all over the world to share their memories and hopes for the future in an oral history project called Share Your Apollo Story. Hundreds of people of all ages shared their reflections on the Apollo 11 Moon landing. They recount the historical moments of the Apollo program and look forward to the milestones that lie ahead.
Some of the submissions appear in the NASA Explorers: Apollo audio series, a four-episode podcast that sheds light on lesser-known stories of lunar exploration from the Apollo program to now. NASA Explorers: Apollo examines the cultural and scientific legacy of the Moon, while also considering what’s next for our future space missions.
Listen below to some of your Apollo stories. Hear memories and dreams for lunar exploration from people all across the world.
“We were mapping one planet, and NASA was starting the job of mapping its Moon.”
On July 20, 1969, Richard was on board a research vessel. Along with other oceanographers, Richard worked on a mission to study the seafloor of the Pacific Ocean to the west of Vancouver Island.
“We were mapping one planet,” Richard said, “and NASA was starting the job of mapping its Moon.”
He remembers the crew stopping their work to glance over at the black-and-white scenes flickering from their television on board.
Back on land in the United States, Paul was in the middle of getting married. The pastor announced to the congregation that the astronauts had touched down during the wedding, so now, Paul has two 50-year anniversaries to celebrate this year.
Craig also associates July 20, 1969, with two massive occurrences. He was at his Eagle Scout ceremony!
It ended just in time for him to hear over the radio, “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”
The day became doubly essential for him too, and Craig thinks of it as a defining moment of his life.
Other momentous occasions coincided with the Moon landing; Ellen, from South Dakota, was nine months pregnant during the Moon landing. She had to peer over her enormous belly to see the television screen. Nine days later, her “Moonchild” was born, who is now very interested in all things space.
“We did it!”
One state over, in Minnesota, David lived in a dorm on his college’s campus during the landing. He went for a walk through the night, and the Moon shone bright and large above him.
“I remember stopping and raising my fist to the Moon,” he said. “And saying, ‘Yes, we did it!’”
Moonshot: Flight of Apollo 19
Kelly from Ontario was born just two days before Apollo 11 launched. While she doesn’t remember the Moon landing, the impact of the mission still followed her throughout her life. As a physics teacher, every year, she helps her students launch high altitude balloons.
This year’s balloon was dubbed “Moonshot: Flight of Apollo ’19”, and held a tiny Moon lander and a miniature Neil Armstrong holding a “50” flag. It reached an altitude of over 20 miles!
Dreams in the Making
In 1969, Peter King was twelve years old. His family had a flight scheduled for the night of July 20, so he ended up watching the Moonwalk from a television set up by CBS at the International Arrivals Terminal at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport.
“Being a wannabe reporter with a then very high-pitched voice, I described the scene for posterity on my brand-new cassette recorder,” he said. Now he works as a CBS radio correspondent in Florida, and he’s covered NASA stories since 1994.
Across the U.S. and the world, watching coverage of the Moon landing left a lasting impact. American high-school student Michael huddled around a television to watch in London with fellow travellers.
When Candy arrived in Rome a day after the landing, Italians showered the bus of disembarking Americans with flowers and congratulations.
A Universal Moment
When Christopher thinks back on the Moon landing, he remembers visiting his grandparents in England that summer. His grandmother woke him in the middle of the night. She led him outside into the garden and pointed up as she explained that men were walking on the Moon for the first time.
“Looking back now,” he said. “I realise this is one of those universal, shared moments.”
He later learned that as he stood in that garden in England, his future wife was listening to the transmissions over the radio with her family in New Mexico.
These stories were collected through the Share Your Apollo Story with NASA oral history project. To tell the whole story of Apollo 11, NASA needs your help. Anyone with a story about the Moon landing or lunar exploration are invited to submit an audio recording to NASA. You can record yourself, interview a loved one or share your hopes for NASA’s next steps. Visit nasa.gov/apollostories to get involved.