World History Moment: Armstrong Walks On The Moon

Smithsonian Staff Sift Through Neil Armstrong's 'Purse'
Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin place the American flag on the Moon. This image was captured by the Apollo 11 Data Acquisition Camera that was mounted to the lunar module Eagle. (NASA)
Smithsonian Staff Sift Through Neil Armstrong's 'Purse'
Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin place the American flag on the Moon. This image was captured by the Apollo 11 Data Acquisition Camera that was mounted to the lunar module Eagle. (NASA)

World History Moment: Armstrong Walks On The Moon

In May 1961, President John F. Kennedy spoke to a joint session of Congress. He announced a plan to send a man to the Moon before the decade was over. Apollo 11 left Earth on July 16, 1969, with a crew of three—Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins. Four days later, they arrived in lunar orbit. On July 21, 1969 at 2:54 GMT—Armstrong iconically climbed down from the craft and announced: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” About 600 million people watched, worldwide. Historian, John Schmidt, tells us the story.