samedi 20 juillet 2019

Soyuz Spaceship Docks, Station Crew Expanding to Six

ROSCOSMOS - Soyuz MS-13 Mission patch.

July 20, 2019

The Soyuz spacecraft carrying NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan, Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) and Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos docked to the International Space Station at 6:48 p.m. EDT while both spacecraft were flying about 250 miles over southern Russian, northeast of the Black Sea.

Image above: July 20, 2019: International Space Station Configuration. Four spaceships are docked at the space station including Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter and Russia’s Progress 72 resupply ship and the Soyuz MS-12 and MS-13 crew ships. Image Credit: NASA.

Aboard the space station, NASA astronauts Nick Hague, Christina Koch and Expedition 60 Commander Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos will welcome the new crew members when the hatches between the two spacecraft are opened following standard pressurization and leak checks.

Soyuz MS 13 docking

The hatch opening targeted for 8:50 p.m. and welcome ceremony to follow live on NASA TV and the agency’s website beginning at 8 p.m.

Hatches Open, Expedition 60 Crew at Full Staff

NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan, Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) and Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos joined Expedition 60 Commander Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos and NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch aboard the International Space Station when the hatches between the Soyuz spacecraft and the orbiting laboratory officially opened at 9:04 p.m. EDT.

Soyuz MS-13 hatch opening

The arrival restores the station’s crew complement to six. The Expedition 60 crew will spend more than six months conducting about 250 science investigations in fields such as biology, Earth science, human research, physical sciences, and technology development. Work on the unique microgravity laboratory advances scientific knowledge and demonstrates new technologies, making research breakthroughs that will enable long-duration human and robotic exploration of the Moon and Mars.

One of those key technology developments will be the arrival and installation of the second docking port for commercial crew spacecraft – SpaceX’s Crew Dragon and Boeing’s Starliner. International Docking Adapter-3 (IDA-3) is set to launch to the station on SpaceX Dragon’s 18th commercial resupply services mission.

Image above: The expanded six-member Expedition 60 crew gathers in the Zvezda service module for a crew greeting ceremony with family, friends and mission officials on the ground. In the front row from left, are Flight Engineers Luca Parmitano, Alexander Skvortsov and Andrew Morgan. In the back are Flight Engineer Nick Hague, Commander Alexey Ovchinin and Flight ENgineer Christina Koch. Image Credit: NASA TV.

Some of the investigations they will conduct are sponsored by the U.S. National Laboratory on the space station, which Congress designated in 2005 to maximize its use for improving quality of life on Earth. Highlights of upcoming investigations the crew will facilitate on the orbiting laboratory in the unique microgravity environment include the growth of moss aboard the station, a platform to attempt successful printing of biological tissues and bio-mining in space.

Parmitano and Skvortsov are scheduled to remain aboard the station with Koch until February 2020, leaving Morgan on station for an extended stay. Hague and Ovchinin are set to return to Earth on Oct. 3.

Related links:

Expedition 60:

NASA Television:

Moon and Mars:

Commercial crew:

Commercial resupply services:

U.S. National Laboratory:


Printing of biological:


Extended stay:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

Images (mentioned), Video, Text, Credits: NASA/Mark Garcia/NASA TV/SciNews.

Best regards,

Earth Blue, Rocket Red and Lunar Silver: A New Identity for Artemis Program to the Moon

NASA - ARTEMIS Program logo.

July 20, 2019

NASA has led the charge in space exploration for 60 years, and as we mark the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing, the agency is preparing for its next giant leap with the Artemis program.

Image above: Artemis will light our way to Mars. The new Artemis identity draws bold inspiration from the Apollo program and forges its own path, showing how it will pursue lunar exploration like never before and pave the way to Mars. Image Credit: NASA.

Artemis, named after the twin sister of Apollo who is also the Goddess of the Moon and the hunt, encompasses all of our efforts to return humans to the Moon – which will prepare us and propel us on to Mars. Through the Artemis program, we will see the first woman and the next man walk on the surface of the Moon. As the “torch bringer,” literally and figuratively, Artemis will light our way to Mars.

With this in mind, NASA is unveiling the new Artemis program identity, a bold look that embodies the determination of the men and women who will carry our missions forward. They will explore regions of the Moon never visited before, unlock mysteries of the Universe and test the technology that will extend the bounds of humanity farther into the Solar System.

This new identity draws inspiration from the Apollo program logo and mission patch. Using an “A” as the primary visual and a trajectory from Earth to the Moon, we honor all that the Apollo program achieved. However, through Artemis we will forge our own path, pursue lunar exploration like never before, and pave the way to Mars.

With Earth Blue, Rocket Red and Lunar Silver for colors, every part of the identity has meaning:

- THE A: The A symbolizes an arrowhead from Artemis’ quiver and represents launch.

- TIP OF THE A: The tip of the A of Artemis points beyond the Moon and signifies that our efforts at the Moon are not the conclusion, but rather the preparation for all that lies beyond.

- EARTH CRESCENT: The crescent of the Earth at the bottom shows missions from humanity's perspective. From Earth we go. Back to Earth all that we learn and develop will return. This crescent also visualizes Artemis’ bow as the source from which all energy and effort is sent.

- TRAJECTORY: The trajectory moves from left to right through the crossbar of the “A” opposite that of Apollo. Thus highlighting the distinct differences in our return to the Moon. The trajectory is red to symbolize our path to Mars.

- MOON: The Moon is our next destination and a stepping stone for Mars. It is the focus of all Artemis efforts.

Download: Artemis Program identity:

We go now to the Moon, not as a destination, but as a proving ground for all the technology, science, and human exploration efforts that will be critical for missions to Mars. On the lunar surface we will pursue water ice and other natural resources that will further enable deep space travel. From the Moon, humanity will take the next giant leap to Mars.

Related links:


Moon to Mars:

Image (mentioned), Animation (NASA), Text, Credits: NASA/Jason Townsend.


Tiangong-2 space station ends mission

CNSA -  China National Space Administration logo.

July 20, 2019

Artist's rendering of the Tiangong 2 space station

The Tiangong-2 space station ended its mission by re-entering the atmosphere over the South Pacific Ocean, on 19 July 2019, at around 13:06 UTC.

Tiangong-2 space station ends mission

Tiangong-2 (天宫二号 or “Heavenly Palace 2”) was launched on 15 September 2016 by a Long March-2F launch vehicle. On 18 October 2016, astronauts Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong entered Tiangong-2 for a 30-day mission, the longest Chinese human space mission to date.

Related articles:

The Chinese space station will fall from the sky like Easter eggs

Chinese space station risks crashing in France

Uncontrolled crash on Earth of a Chinese space station

For more information about China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), visit:

For more information about China National Space Administration (CNSA). visit:

Image, Video, Text, Credits: Credits: China Central Television (CCTV),China Global Television Network (CGTN), China National Space Administration (CNSA)/SciNews.


Three Expedition 60 Crew Members Heading to Station on Apollo 50th

ROSCOSMOS - Soyuz MS-13 Mission patch.

July 20, 2019

Image above: Expedition 60 crewmembers Drew Morgan, Alexander Skvortsov and Luca Parmitano launch aboard the Soyuz MS-13 rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Image Credits: NASA/Joel Kowsky.

Fifty years to the day that astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped on the Moon in a giant leap for humanity, NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan, Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) and Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos will arrive Saturday for their mission aboard the International Space Station, where humans have lived and worked continuously for more than 18 years, begin a six-hour journey to the International Space Station.

Soyuz MS-13 launch

The Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft carrying Morgan, Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) and Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos launched at 12:28 p.m. EDT July 20 (9:28 p.m. Kazakhstan time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and has safely reached orbit.  At the time of launch, the station was flying about 254 miles over southern Russia between Kazakhstan and Mongolia, 646 miles ahead of the Soyuz as it left the launch pad.

Image above: The Expedition 60 crew members (from top to bottom) Luca Parmitano, Andrew Morgan and Alexander Skvortsov wave bye before boarding their Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft in Kazakhstan. Image Credit: Roscosmos/NASA.

The crew has begun their six-hour trip to the orbital laboratory where they will live and work for their mission. Coverage of the Soyuz docking to the International Space Station will begin on NASA TV and the agency’s website at 6 p.m., with the spacecraft docking expected at 6:50 p.m.

Coverage of the hatch opening between the Soyuz and the space station will begin at 8 p.m.

Related links:

NASA Television:

Expedition 60:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

Images (mentioned), Video, Text, Credits: NASA/Mark Garcia/Roscosmos/SciNews.


Space Tourism - We must better protect the sites of Lunar missions

Space Tourism logo.

July 20, 2019

Hundreds of objects dot the moon, and experts would like to inscribe them with the equivalent of a lunar heritage of humanity.

Landing sites on the Moon

It all started on September 13, 1959 when the Soviet Luna 2 probe crashed into the Sea of ​​Rains: 390 kilos probably sprayed on impact. Russian (Luna) and American (Ranger, Surveyor) probes followed, to the first humans, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, on the night of July 20th to 21st, 1969.

The two astronauts stayed for 22 hours in the Sea of ​​Tranquility. Before taking off again, they left on the ground any useless mass. NASA has cataloged some fifty objects: the lunar module descent stage (LEM), cameras, boots, clips, but also commemorative objects, as well as four "defecation collection devices".

Buzz Aldrin's footprint on the surface of the moon, Apollo 11, 20 July 1969

Five other Apollo crews left hundreds of extra items. In total, the Moon has a hundred sites with a human trace, according to the organization For All Moonkind. At least 167 tons of material in total, according to its register.

Sites not protected

Legally, "the sites are not protected at all," says Michelle Hanlon, a law professor at the University of Mississippi who co-founded For All Moonkind in 2017 after a joke from European Space Agency boss Jan Wörner, who said he wanted to return to the moon to bring back an American flag.

Footprints and lunar rovers prints on the Moon, Apollo 17 landing site

"Footprints, traces of rover tires and places where archeologically important objects are found have no protection," says Michelle Hanlon to AFP. She fears that Apollo sites will one day attract interest from tourists. But the slightest projection of lunar dust, cutting like glass, can damage the materials. "If anyone wants to get closer to the LEM, nothing in international law prohibits driving a rover to him," she says. "We need protections against accidental or deliberate acts."

Treaty on space

NASA has adopted "recommendations": for example, do not land within 2 km of Apollo sites. In the US Congress, senators tabled a text to create de facto protected cultural heritage sites and prohibited areas. But the Treaty on Space (1967) is very clear: the moon "can not be the object of national appropriation by proclamation of sovereignty, nor by way of use or occupation".

"Preventing countries from freely using and exploring space is contrary to a fundamental principle of the Space Treaty," says space law professor Jack Beard at the University of Nebraska. Admittedly, the treaty contains safeguards: every space object must be registered by a state, which is perpetually responsible for it. This limits the risk of lunar anarchy. The treaty also clearly forbids any theft, for example, of Apollo's memories. Objects launched by a country remain its property, wherever they are in the universe.

NASA to future moon explorers: Do not ruin our Apollo landing sites

But gaps in space law are of concern to lawyers, space agencies and the United Nations, not just for the protection of heritage. Moon traffic is likely to grow in the coming decades; the vague principles of cooperation enshrined in the treaty will not suffice to regulate it.

In 2019 alone, a Chinese robot has landed, a private Israeli probe has crashed into it, and India is going to send back a probe. Americans are expected to moon in 2024 at the South Pole, where there is ice. Hundreds of space start-ups have sprung up, many of whom want to exploit the water and mineral resources of the Moon and asteroids. What would happen if two entities quarreled one another?

Potential for conflict

"It is clear that there is potential for conflict," says AFP Tanja Masson, a professor of space law at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. "There is a need for rules so that it does not become the Wild West."

It suggests the creation of an international body to equitably distribute priority rights, without granting sovereignty, as is done to manage satellites in geostationary orbit. As for the risk of "pollution", she concludes: "It may be waste dumps on the moon!"

Related links:

NASA History:

The Outer Space Treaty - UNOOSA:

Outer Space Treaty - United States Department of State:

Images, Text, Credits: NASA/ATS/ Aerospace/Roland Berga.

Best regards,

Bottomonium particles don’t go with the flow

CERN - European Organization for Nuclear Research logo.

20 July, 2019

The first measurement, by the ALICE collaboration, of an elliptic-shaped flow for bottomonium particles could help shed light on the early universe 

The ALICE experiment (Image: CERN)

A few millionths of a second after the Big Bang, the universe was so dense and hot that the quarks and gluons that make up protons, neutrons and other hadrons existed freely in what is known as the quark–gluon plasma. The ALICE experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) can recreate this plasma in high-energy collisions of beams of heavy ions of lead. However, ALICE, as well as any other collision experiments that can recreate the plasma, cannot observe this state of matter directly. The presence and properties of the plasma can only be deduced from the signatures it leaves on the particles that are produced in the collisions.

In a new article, presented at the ongoing European Physical Society conference on High-Energy Physics, the ALICE collaboration reports the first measurement of one such signature – the elliptic flow – for upsilon particles produced in lead–lead LHC collisions.

The upsilon is a bottomonium particle, consisting of a bottom (often also called beauty) quark and its antiquark. Bottomonia and their charm-quark counterparts, charmonium particles, are excellent probes of the quark–gluon plasma. They are created in the initial stages of a heavy-ion collision and therefore experience the entire evolution of the plasma, from the moment it is produced to the moment it cools down and gives way to a state in which hadrons can form.

Large Hadron Collider (LHC). Animation Credit: CERN

One indication that the quark–gluon plasma forms is the collective motion, or flow, of the produced particles. This flow is generated by the expansion of the hot plasma after the collision, and its magnitude depends on several factors, including: the particle type and mass; how central, or “head on”, the collision is; and the momenta of the particles at right angles to the collision line. One type of flow, called elliptic flow, results from the initial elliptic shape of non-central collisions.

In their new study, the ALICE team determined the elliptic flow of the upsilons by observing the pairs of muons (heavier cousins of the electron) into which they transform, or “decay”. They found that the magnitude of the upsilon elliptic flow for a range of momenta and collision centralities is small, making the upsilons the first hadrons that don’t seem to exhibit a significant elliptic flow.

The results are consistent with the prediction that the upsilons are largely split up into their constituent quarks in the early stages of their interaction with the plasma, and they pave the way to higher-precision measurements using data from ALICE’s upgraded detector, which will be able to record ten times more upsilons. Such data should also cast light on the curious case of the J/psi flow. This lighter charmonium particle has a larger flow and is believed to re-form after being split up by the plasma.


CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is one of the world’s largest and most respected centres for scientific research. Its business is fundamental physics, finding out what the Universe is made of and how it works. At CERN, the world’s largest and most complex scientific instruments are used to study the basic constituents of matter — the fundamental particles. By studying what happens when these particles collide, physicists learn about the laws of Nature.

The instruments used at CERN are particle accelerators and detectors. Accelerators boost beams of particles to high energies before they are made to collide with each other or with stationary targets. Detectors observe and record the results of these collisions.

Founded in 1954, the CERN Laboratory sits astride the Franco–Swiss border near Geneva. It was one of Europe’s first joint ventures and now has 23 Member States.

Related links:

ALICE experiment:

Large Hadron Collider (LHC):

European Physical Society conference on High-Energy Physics:

Science article:

ALICE’s upgraded detector:

The curious case of the J/psi flow:

For more information about European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), Visit:

Image (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Text, Credits: CERN/Ana Lopes.


vendredi 19 juillet 2019

Hubble Spots a Stunning Spiral

NASA - Hubble Space Telescope (HST) patch.

July 19, 2019

Galaxies come in many shapes and sizes. One of the key galaxy types we see in the universe is the spiral galaxy, as demonstrated in an especially beautiful way by the subject of this Hubble Space Telescope image, NGC 2985. NGC 2985 lies over 70 million light-years from the solar system in the constellation of Ursa Major (the Great Bear).

The intricate, near-perfect symmetry on display here reveals the incredible complexity of NGC 2985. Multiple tightly wound spiral arms widen as they whirl outward from the galaxy’s bright core, slowly fading and dissipating until these majestic structures disappear into the emptiness of intergalactic space, bringing a beautiful end to their starry splendor.

Over eons, spiral galaxies tend to run into other galaxies, often resulting in mergers. These coalescing events scramble the winding structures of the original galaxies, smoothing and rounding their shape. These objects possess a beauty all their own, distinct from the spiral galaxies from whence they came.

Hubble Space Telescope (HST)

For more information about Hubble, visit:

Text Credits: ESA (European Space Agency)/NASA/Rob Garner/Image, Animation, Credits: ESA/Hubble & NASA, L. Ho.


More Space Biology Work Day Before Crew Launches on Apollo 50th

ISS - Expedition 60 Mission patch.

July 19, 2019

Three new Expedition 60 crewmembers are just one day away from launching and joining the space residents aboard the International Space Station. Meanwhile, the orbiting trio worked on space biology hardware today while their crewmates on Earth completed final launch preparations in Kazakhstan.

Two different life science facilities onboard the station are being serviced today to support upcoming research into microgravity’s effect on biological systems. NASA astronaut Nick Hague ensured the Cell Biology Experiment Facility is airtight to contain the high humidity necessary for the Space Moss botany study. NASA Flight Engineer Christina Koch set up power to the Life Science Glovebox for the Cell Science-02 healing and tissue regeneration experiment.

Image above: New Expedition 60 crewmembers (from left) Drew Morgan, Alexander Skvortsov and Luca Parmitano are outfitted in Sokol launch and entry suits for a fit check inside their Soyuz spacecraft. Image Credits: Roscosmos/NASA.

The duo handled a variety of other station tasks today, including Hague reconfiguring the Kibo laboratory module‘s robotic arm backup drive system and testing new station lights. Koch loaded new software on a science laptop computer then replaced components in the station’s restroom, the Waste and Hygiene Compartment.

Station Commander Alexey Ovchinin had a light duty day in space mostly cleaning station hardware in the Russian segment. In the evening, he joined both astronauts reviewing emergency procedures for the arrival of a new crew on Saturday.

International Space Station (ISS). Animation Credit: NASA

NASA astronaut Drew Morgan is launching Saturday at 12:28 p.m. EDT inside the Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft on his first space mission. He joins veteran station residents Luca Parmitano and Alexander Skvortsov for their historic mission lifting off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. They will dock to the space station’s Zvezda service module at 6:50 p.m. 50 years to the day Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first walked on the Moon.

Related articles:

50 Years Ago: One Small Step, One Giant Leap

Rocket Rolls Out Ready to Launch New Station Crew on Apollo 50th

Related links:

Expedition 60:

Cell Biology Experiment Facility:

Space Moss:

Life Science Glovebox:

Cell Science-02:

Kibo laboratory module:

New station lights:

Zvezda service module:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

Image (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Mark Garcia.

Best regards,

50 Years Ago: One Small Step, One Giant Leap

NASA - Apollo 11 Mission patch / NASA - 50 Years Apollo 11 patch.

July 19, 2019

Words such as these were emblazoned in dozens of languages on the front page of newspapers around the world, echoing the first part of President John F. Kennedy’s bold challenge to the nation, made more than eight years earlier – to land a man on the Moon. That part was successfully accomplished on July 20, 1969. The second part of the challenge, the safe return to Earth, would have to wait four more days.

Apollo 11 astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin, and Michael Collins awoke to start their fifth day in space at the end of their ninth revolution around the Moon. In Mission Control at the Manned Spacecraft Center, now the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Eugene F. Kranz’s White Team of controllers arrived on console, with astronaut Charles M. Duke serving as Capcom. After a quick breakfast, Aldrin and Armstrong began re-activating the Lunar Module (LM) Eagle, including deploying its landing gear, and donned their pressure suits. Near the end of the 12th orbit around the Moon, Duke radioed up to Apollo 11 that they were GO to undock. The event took place behind the Moon during the start of their 13th revolution, the astronauts filming each other’s spacecraft as they began their independent flights (clip 1, clip 2). After they reappeared from behind the Moon, Armstrong radioed their status to MCC saying, “The Eagle has wings.” Collins in the Command Module (CM) Columbia observed, “I think you've got a fine looking flying machine there, Eagle, despite the fact you're upside down,” prompting Armstrong to reply, “Somebody's upside down.”

Images above: Top: Eagle shortly after undocking. Bottom: Columbia shortly after undocking. Images Credit: NASA.

From this point on, it was time to get down to business as events happened rather quickly. As the Moon landing attempt was less than an hour away, the viewing gallery in Mission Control was filling with NASA managers from across the agency, and many astronauts were present in the control room itself to witness the historic event. Later during the 13th orbit, about 10 minutes before Apollo 11 disappeared again behind the Moon, Duke radioed up the GO for Descent Orbit Insertion (DOI). The DOI burn, a 30-second firing of the LM’s Descent Propulsion System (DPS) engine took place behind the Moon, lowering the low point of Eagle’s orbit to about 50,000 feet, as close as Apollo 10 got to the Moon’s surface. The two craft now flying separately reappeared from behind the Moon on their 14th orbit.  Duke radioed up the GO for Powered Descent Initiation (PDI), the beginning of the landing maneuver. Eagle’s antenna repeatedly lost lock on the Earth so Mission Control had to communicate with Eagle through Collins in Columbia until reliable radio links were re-established.

At the beginning of PDI, the LM’s DPS engine ran at 10% thrust for 26 seconds for a smooth initial deceleration before increasing to full thrust. Eagle was flying engine first and windows facing down toward the Moon’s surface and was about 300 miles east of the landing site in the Sea of Tranquility. Eagle’s attitude allowed Armstrong to track landmarks as they passed over them against the predicted times. Based on Eagle passing landmarks about two to three seconds early, Armstrong predicted that they would land about three miles further downrange than planned – and he was proved correct. At an altitude of 40,000 feet, Armstrong maneuvered Eagle to a windows up orientation. This was in preparation for the pitch-over maneuver, which placed the windows facing forward in the direction of flight, and also positioned the landing radar so it could see the lunar surface.

At about 33,000-foot altitude, Armstrong and Aldrin were surprised by the first 1202 program alarm, which they had not seen in simulations. After a few seconds of analysis in MCC, Duke gave them a GO to proceed. The alarm simply meant the computer was overloaded with too much data and couldn’t process it all, but controllers felt confident they could proceed with the landing. When a second 1202 alarm sounded less than a minute later Duke once again gave the GO to proceed. Eagle maneuvered to a more vertical orientation for the final phase of the descent. At about 5,000 feet and descending about 100 feet per second, Armstrong took over manual control of Eagle’s attitude. As they passed through 3,000 feet with their descent rate slowed to 70 feet/second, Duke gave them the GO for landing, and they received the 1201 program alarm. Once again, Duke gave them the GO to proceed. Another 1202 flashed at about 1,000 feet altitude. At about 600 feet, noticing Eagle’s computer was taking them down into a boulder-strewn area near West Crater, Armstrong took over manual control of the descent. He pitched Eagle to a more vertical orientation, which slowed the descent, and decided to overfly the rough area and look for smoother terrain to land on. Armstrong found and flew to a clearer spot for landing, and Aldrin called out that he saw the LM’s shadow on the Moon. Armstrong picked his final spot, about 60 meters east of Little West Crater. At about 100 feet, the fuel quantity warning light came on, indicating only 5% fuel remaining, giving Armstrong about 90 seconds of hover time left. With 60 seconds of fuel remaining, they were down to about 40 feet and the descent engine was kicking up dust from the surface, increasingly obscuring Armstrong’s visibility.  At precisely 3:17:40 PM Houston time on July 20, 1969, Aldrin called out “Contact light,” indicating that at least one of the three 67-inch probes hanging from the bottom of three of the LM’s footpads had made contact with the Moon. Eagle drifted to the left when three seconds later, Armstrong called out, “Shutdown,” followed by Aldrin’s, “Okay. Engine stop,” indicating the DPS engine was shut off. They were on the Moon. In Houston, Duke noted via telemetry that the engine had shut down, and called to Armstrong and Aldrin, “We copy you down, Eagle.” Armstrong responded with the historic words, “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”

Images above: Top: In Mission Control during the descent to the Moon (left to right) Capcom Duke, and Apollo 11 crewmembers James A. Lovell and Fred W. Haise. Bottom: In Mission Control during the Moon landing (left to right) Apollo 12 prime crewmembers Charles Conrad and Alan L. Bean and their backups David R. Scott and James B. Irwin. Images Credit: NASA.

It should be noted that for everyone on Earth, the first Moon landing was purely an audio experience. Controllers in MCC had the added benefit of telemetry from the spacecraft, but there was no live television of the landing. A 16-mm silent film camera mounted in the right hand (Aldrin’s) window recorded the event, but was not available for viewing until it was returned to Earth and developed. An annotated video of the landing was prepared from this film (courtesy of Apollo Flight Journal), and synchronized with space-to-ground communications, several loops in Mission Control, and video clips from MCC.

Images above: Three views of the lunar surface as Armstrong and Aldrin saw it shortly after landing, taken through Armstrong’s left side LM window (top), and through Aldrin’s right side window (middle and bottom). Images Credit: NASA.

After a few minutes, Aldrin provided the first verbal description of their surroundings, including the types and sizes of rocks and the general color of the surface. Duke radioed to them, “Be advised there're lots of smiling faces in this room and all over the world,” prompting Armstrong’s response, “Well, there are two of them up here.” Armstrong reported that neither he nor Aldrin had any trouble adjusting to the one-sixth gravity on the lunar surface. He continued with a more detailed description of their view out the forward windows. As they continued their postlanding activities, Armstrong called MCC to advise that he and Aldrin would like to forego the planned rest period before their Extra-Vehicular Activity (EVA), or spacewalk, and MCC concurred with their proposal. Aldrin made the following request to anyone who might be listening, “I'd like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his or her own way.” He then proceeded to take communion with a chalice and consecrated wine he brought along for the occasion. He and Armstrong then began preparations for their historic spacewalk, including donning their Portable Life Support Systems (PLSS), the backpacks that provided oxygen, removed carbon dioxide, and enabled communications. The Green Team of flight controllers led by Clifford E. Charlesworth, with Bruce McCandless serving as Capcom, took their positions in Mission Control to help Armstrong and Aldrin prepare for and execute their EVA. They reconfigured Eagle’s cabin for depressurization, donned their helmets, visors, and gloves, and then opened the valve that vented the cabin.

Images above: Two views of Armstrong taking the first step on the lunar surface. Top: Still image from the live TV downlink. Bottom: Still image from the 16-mm camera mounted in Eagle’s window. Images Credit: NASA.

Aldrin opened Eagle’s forward hatch, which swung inward toward him, giving Armstrong access to the outside front porch. Aldrin added, “About ready to go down and get some Moon rock?” He helped Armstrong navigate through the narrow confines of Eagle’s hatch and onto the front porch. Once on the ladder, Armstrong pulled a lanyard that released the Modularized Equipment Stowage Assembly (MESA) on the side of Eagle’s Descent Stage, on which was mounted a black and white TV camera, allowing hundreds of millions of viewers on Earth to see him descend the ladder down to the landing leg’s footpad. As a precaution, he practiced the three-foot jump back up to the ladder’s first rung, made easier in the one-sixth lunar gravity. Once back down on the footpad, Armstrong described that the footpads had only sunk one or two inches into the lunar dust which he noted was fine-grained, almost powdery. Armstrong announced, “I’m going to step off the LM now.” And at 9:56 PM Houston time he did just that, firmly planting his left foot onto the lunar surface, proclaiming, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Images above: Top: First photograph from the surface EVA, showing a jettison bag and a gouge left in the lunar soil by the landing probe as Eagle drifted just before touchdown. Middle: Still from the 16-mm film of Armstrong collecting the contingency sample. Bottom: View of Eagle’s Descent Stage engine bell, also showing a gouge in the soil by another landing probe. Images Credit: NASA.

After taking his first tentative steps on the lunar surface, Armstrong began his first tasks of the spacewalk, including receiving the Hasselblad still camera from Aldrin via a lanyard and pulley system, using it to take the first photographs of Eagle to document how it fared during the landing as well as of their surroundings, and collecting the contingency sample of lunar material in case they had to make an emergency departure. A few minutes later, Aldrin began his descent to the surface, commenting on the way out of the cabin, “Now I want to … partially close the hatch.  Making sure not to lock it on my way out.” This prompted a laugh from Armstrong who commented, “A particularly good thought.”

Images above: Sequence of images of Aldrin climbing down Eagle’s ladder to join Armstrong on the surface. Image Credit: NASA.

Once Aldrin was on the surface, he and Armstrong unveiled the commemorative plaque that was mounted on the landing leg and read the words that were inscribed on it, “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon, July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.” The plaque bore the signatures of the Apollo 11 astronauts as well as of President Richard M. Nixon. Armstrong then removed the TV camera from the MESA, carried it about 60 feet from the LM, and mounted on a tripod so the world audience could watch their subsequent activities. Closer to the LM, Aldrin was setting up the Solar Wind Collector (SWC) experiment, a sheet of aluminum that was exposed to the Sun for 77 minutes to collect ions in the solar wind. Near the end of the EVA, Aldrin rolled up the foil and stowed it for return to Earth for analysis by scientists.

Images above: Top: Aldrin (left) and Armstrong reading the plaque mounted on Eagle’s forward landing leg strut. Bottom: Still from 16-mm film of Armstrong (left) and Aldrin setting up the American flag. Images Credit: NASA.

Their next task was to remove the Lunar Flag Assembly attached to Eagle’s ladder and set up the American flag about 20 feet from the LM. Because in the vacuum on the Moon there is no way for the flag to stay unfurled, a telescoping horizontal metal rod was inserted along the top of the 3-by-5-foot nylon flag. During the deployment, this metal rod did not extend all the way and left the edge of the flag somewhat wrinkled, giving it the appearance of waving in a non-existent lunar breeze. Aldrin began to experiment with different types of locomotion in the one-sixth gravity when Capcom McCandless requested that both astronauts position themselves in front of the TV camera. For the next two minutes, Armstrong and Aldrin talked to President Nixon in the White House’s Oval Office, who offered the nation’s congratulations on their historic accomplishment.

Images above: Three views of the same scene to provide spatial perspective on the astronauts’ activity. Top: A still from the live TV downlink that millions of viewers on Earth saw. Middle: Photograph of Aldrin and the US flag taken by Armstrong. Bottom: Still from the 16-mm film taken by the automatic camera installed inside the LM on Aldrin’s forward window. Images Credit: NASA.

The phone call concluded, Armstrong and Aldrin resumed their tasks, which included Aldrin performing soil cohesion tests by kicking the lunar surface with his boot and observing the resulting sprays of dust which in the vacuum and one-sixth gravity on the Moon behaved differently from how they would on Earth. Armstrong returned to the MESA to retrieve the equipment for the bulk sample collection of lunar material. Aldrin picked up the Hasselblad to take photographs for the Bootprint Penetration Experiment, and took panoramic photos of the landing site, incidentally taking one of the few photographs of Armstrong on the surface as he packs the bulk sample at the MESA.

Images above: Top: Aldrin standing next to the seismometer. Bottom: The Laser Ranging Retro-Reflector. Images Credit: NASA.

After more photography, Aldrin handed the camera back to Armstrong and walked to the back of the LM where the Scientific Equipment (SEQ) bay containing the Early Apollo Surface Experiment Package (EASEP) was located. The EASEP consisted of two experiments, the Passive Seismic Experiment Package (PSEP) to measure Moon quakes and the Laser Ranging Retro-Reflector (LRRR) that contained an array of mirrors to reflect a laser beam sent from Earth for precise measurements of the Earth-Moon distance. Aldrin removed the two experiments from the SEQ bay and carried them about 40 feet from the LM where he deployed the PSEP and Armstrong the LRRR. At this point, they were running about 30 minutes behind the timeline, but their consumables were within limits so McCandless called to tell them that Mission Control had given them a 15-minute extension on the EVA.  He also mentioned that scientists had activated the seismometer and it was picking up the vibrations from their footsteps.

Images above: Top: One of the few still photographs of Armstrong on the lunar surface, packing the bulk sample at the MESA; the American flag and the Solar Wind Collection experiment can be seen in the left of the photograph. Bottom: Aldrin setting up the Solar Wind Collection experiment. Images Credit: NASA.

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Image above: Panoramic mosaic of several images taken by Armstrong at Little West Crater. Image Credit: NASA.

Aldrin returned to the MESA to begin getting two core samples as part of the documented samples. Armstrong jogged 180 feet to Little West Crater that they had overflown during the descent and took a series of panoramic shots before jogging back to the LM to assist Aldrin with the core samples. Finishing the core samples, Aldrin rolled up the solar wind experiment. Armstrong collected about 20 rock samples weighing about 13 pounds.

And with that, it was time to finish the EVA. Armstrong and Aldrin gathered the film magazines and closed up the rock boxes. Armstrong scooped up about 13 pounds of lunar dirt as packing material for the rocks in the boxes as Aldrin climbed up the ladder and back into the LM. From there he helped Armstrong transfer the rock boxes up to the cabin using the lanyard system. A film cassette attached to the first rock box fell off and into the lunar dirt, but Armstrong retrieved and reattached it. The dirt attached to the cassette would later cause an accidental exposure to one of the employees once in the Lunar Receiving Laboratory in Houston. They hauled the second rock box up to the cabin without incident.

Images above: Photos taken after the EVA. Top: From Armstrong’s window, showing the two EASEP experiments. Middle: From Aldrin’s window, showing the flag and the TV camera. Bottom: The next morning, also from Aldrin’s window, showing that the flag had changed position due to settling in the lunar soil. Images Credit: NASA.

Just before Armstrong headed up the ladder, he reminded Aldrin about a small package of commemorative items that they wanted to leave on the surface. Aldrin tossed it down through the hatch from inside the cabin. The items included a silicon disc etched with goodwill greetings from 73 world leaders, an Apollo 1 patch commemorating astronauts Virgil I. Grissom, Edward H. White, and Roger B. Chaffee lost in the 1967 fire, two Soviet medals honoring cosmonauts Vladimir M. Komarov killed in the Soyuz 1 accident and Yuri A. Gagarin, the first man in space killed in an airplane crash in 1968, and a small gold olive branch, identical to ones the astronauts carried to the Moon and back for their wives. Armstrong then jumped up to the third rung of the ladder and climbed the rest of the way into the cabin.  Within a minute they had the hatch closed and began repressurizing the LM. They removed their PLSS backpacks, took photographs out the windows to use up their remaining film, and ate a well-earned meal. Aldrin realized that probably while he was removing his PLSS, he broke the circuit breaker that armed the ascent stage engine, critical for their departure the next day. Fortunately, they were able to use a felt tip pen to depress the breaker button.

Images above: Armstrong (Top) and Aldrin (Bottom) back inside Eagle after the first spacewalk on the Moon. Images Credit: NASA.

Director of Flight Crew Operations Donald K. “Deke” Slayton called to the crew, “That's a real great day, guys. I really enjoyed it.” Armstrong replied, “Thank you. You couldn't have enjoyed it as much as we did,” and Aldrin, “It was great.” They then depressurized the LM cabin and threw their PLSS backpacks out the hatch along with a jettison bag containing their lunar boots and other items no longer necessary. This freed up space in the cramped cabin and reduced the weight of the LM at liftoff. Since the TV camera on the surface was still transmitting, MCC was able to observe the jettisons, and the PSEP recorded the items hitting the surface, prompting Armstrong to comment, “You can't get away with anything anymore, can you?” They then repressurized the cabin for the final time. Their last duty before they turned in for a well-deserved albeit restless night’s sleep, having been awake for 21 hours, was to turn off the TV camera. Aldrin curled up on the floor of the LM while Armstrong devised a hammock and slept on the ascent stage engine cover. All was quiet on the Moon, but while the astronauts slept the American flag they planted shifted position as it settled in the loose lunar soil.

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Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Kelli Mars/JSC/John Uri.