PetaPixel

45 Years After the Moon Landing, We Look Back at the Best Photos from Apollo 11

Apollo 11 goes supersonic as it continues to climb outside the Earth's atmosphere.

Apollo 11 goes supersonic as it continues to climb outside the Earth’s atmosphere.

It was 45 years ago, yesterday, astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins took on what is without a doubt one of the most important endeavors in the history of humankind. Packed together into one of the most incredible pieces of engineering to ever exist, the astronauts of Apollo 11 left Earth’s atmosphere, with hopes of being the first humans to ever step foot on the Moon.

To commemorate the accomplishment many thought was impossible – and to those who still do – we have put together a chronological collection of photos documenting the entire journey. Shared by NASA as part of their Project Apollo Archive, these images are just a few from the vast archive of medium format, 35mm, and 16mm frames captured throughout the Apollo missions.

Lunar Module 5 is held in place via an overhead hoist before inspection.

Lunar Module 5 is held in place via an overhead hoist before inspection.

Workers make preparations to the S-IC first stage rocket in the the Vehicle Assembly Building.

Workers make preparations to the S-IC first stage rocket in the the Vehicle Assembly Building.

Buzz Aldrin practices Hasselblad photography as Neil Armstrong looks on

Buzz Aldrin practices Hasselblad photography as Neil Armstrong looks on

Apollo 11 Spacecraft Commander Neil Armstrong in the spacesuit he will wear on the lunar surface at the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, Texas.

Apollo 11 Spacecraft Commander Neil Armstrong in the spacesuit he will wear on the lunar surface at the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, Texas.

Apollo 11 CSM 107 is moved in preparation for the first manned lunar landing.

Apollo 11 CSM 107 is moved in preparation for the first manned lunar landing.

The attaching of the Apollo 11 spacecraft to the Saturn V launch vehicle.

The attaching of the Apollo 11 spacecraft to the Saturn V launch vehicle.

Saturn V, the space vehicle used for the Apollo 11 mission is rolled down the 3.5 mile crawlerway to Launch Complex 39A.

Saturn V, the space vehicle used for the Apollo 11 mission is rolled down the 3.5 mile crawlerway to Launch Complex 39A.

The Saturn 5 crawls towards pad 39a at a whopping 1MPH.

The Saturn 5 crawls towards pad 39a at a whopping 1MPH.

The Saturn 5 crawls towards pad 39a at a whopping 1MPH.

The Saturn 5 crawls towards pad 39a at a whopping 1MPH.

Searchlights shine onto the Apollo 11 space vehicle at Launch Complex 39A during a Countdown Demonstration Test.

Searchlights shine onto the Apollo 11 space vehicle at Launch Complex 39A during a Countdown Demonstration Test.

Apollo 11 and Saturn V as seen from atop the launch tower.

Apollo 11 and Saturn V as seen from atop the launch tower.

The crew of Apollo 11 take their final steps on Earth before stepping foot into the vehicle that would take them to the moon.

The crew of Apollo 11 take their final steps on Earth before stepping foot into the vehicle that would take them to the moon.

Saturn V SA-506 and Apollo 11 moments after ignition.

Saturn V SA-506 and Apollo 11 moments after ignition.

Apollo 11 liftoff as viewed by a launch tower camera.

Apollo 11 liftoff as viewed by a launch tower camera.

Launch team members view the Apollo 11 through the firing room windows.

Launch team members view the Apollo 11 through the firing room windows.

Moonbound Apollo 11 clears the launch tower.

Moonbound Apollo 11 clears the launch tower.

Apollo 11 as viewed from an Air Force EC-135N plane A 70mm Airborne Lightweight Optical Tracking System (ALOTS) camera took this picture.

Apollo 11 as viewed from an Air Force EC-135N plane A 70mm Airborne Lightweight Optical Tracking System (ALOTS) camera took this picture.

Apollo 11's view from Earth orbit.

Apollo 11′s view from Earth orbit.

Apollo 11's view during approach to landing site.

Apollo 11′s view during approach to landing site.

The first photo Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong took after setting foot on the Moon

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Buzz Aldrin's bootprint in the lunar soil.

Buzz Aldrin’s bootprint in the lunar soil.

Buzz Aldrin salutes U.S. Flag.

Buzz Aldrin salutes U.S. Flag.

Armstrong inside Apollo 11 landing module after historic moonwalk.

Armstrong inside Apollo 11 landing module after historic moonwalk.

Landing module inside the Moon's orbit.

Landing module inside the Moon’s orbit.

Apollo 11 crewmen await pickup by helicopter following splashdown.

Apollo 11 crewmen await pickup by helicopter following splashdown.

Mission control celebrates Apollo 11's safe return.

Mission control celebrates Apollo 11′s safe return.

The Apollo 11 crew relaxes in the quarantine van.

The Apollo 11 crew relaxes in the quarantine van.

Apollo 11 astronauts, still in quarantine van, are greeted by wives upon arrival at Ellington Air Force Base.

Apollo 11 astronauts, still in quarantine van, are greeted by wives upon arrival at Ellington Air Force Base.

To see more images from Apollo 11 or any of the other missions to the moon, check out our previous coverage on the Apollo Image Gallery or head over to the gallery itself by clicking here.


 
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  • Kynikos

    Are we still pretending this happened?

    I love how NASA said a few years ago we could, with all our modern technology, go “back” to the moon in 15 years or so. If we really went to the moon in 1969, we should be able to go “back” next week.

  • http://www.gannonburgett.com Gannon Burgett

    Wouldn’t have taken you for a conspiracist, Kynikos. Glad to see you keep things interesting.

  • http://www.harryneary.com/ Grumpyrocker

    That’s the great thing about facts, they are still true even if loonies doubt them. The moon landings happened.

    Amazing photos Petapixel, thanks for posting them.

  • David_Evans

    There is plenty of evidence for the Moon landings from sources independent of NASA and the US. See
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third-party_evidence_for_Apollo_Moon_landings
    Notably, the Soviet Union was in a race to get to the Moon first, and monitored all the Apollo missions. They dropped out of the race after the US won. If they had evidence those flights didn’t happen, don’t you think they would have mentioned it?

    And we chose not to keep a complete Saturn V rocket in working order. We thought that by the time we wanted to go back, our rockets would be more efficient. That may have been a mistake. Governments do make mistakes, as I’m sure you have noticed.

  • Uncle Wig

    Kynikos also believes that Steven Speilberg shot a real live triceratops.

    (It would be good for you to have Buzz Aldrin punch you in the brain.)

  • http://www.youtube.com/jankiwi SwedishKiwi

    But the Soviets were in on it, too! ;)

    I’ve had many debates with conspiracy theorists. Two things I’ve noticed:

    1) Most of them only think and talk about the Apollo 11 landing. They are a bit surprised when I ask them about the other FIVE landings (Apollo 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17) and if they were faked as well. If the U.S. faked the moon landing just to win the space race, why fake it five more times – each time with more people involved, more things that could go wrong, more details that would expose everything as a hoax. They have no good answers to this question.

    2) Conspiracy theorists usually buy into other theories as well. If you’re convinced that the Apollo 11 landing was a hoax, then you probably think that 9/11 and the JFK assassination are government conspiracies, too.

  • EdwardTellersEyebrows

    Well said, Kiwi.

  • Corey Smith

    The problem is people don’t realize how much money it costs to go to the moon. We as a society are more worried about what the kardashians are doing and paying for people to stay unemployed. Its proven that Technology created for space travel makes its way into the general population. I personally want us to revisit the moon and bring along a gigapixel camera so we can get some truly amazing HDR photos from the moon back to the earth. Any one who thinks the moon landings were a hoax are just idiots.

  • Matt Rennells

    Ignoring the trolls…. I just love the feel of these classic film images that you just don’t get with digital. The portrait of Neil after walking on the moon is just great. The subtleties in the shadows are just amazing.