Static crackled and hissed as NASA astronaut Neil Armstrong took the historic first step on the surface of the moon and uttered the now unforgettable phrase, “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Back home on Earth, approximately 530 million people watched the moment play out on their television screens.
The lunar landing marked a pinnacle of NASA’s Apollo 11 mission and now, 46 years later, it remains a major milestone in American history. The space flight — manned by Armstrong, as well as Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Michael Collins — had been given a mission by President John F. Kennedy three years prior: Land a crew on the moon and return to Earth.
Aldrin and Armstrong planted the American flag on the dusty gray surface, though it was blown over when their spacecraft took off, according to NASA.
In addition to footprints in the gray lunar dust, the crew left five commemorative medallions inscribed with the names of three Apollo 1 astronauts who died in a launch pad fire and two who died in accidents. There was also a special message from humans: They also left a small silicon disk with goodwill messages from 73 countries and the names of those who’d contributed to the mission’s success.
See the remarkable photos from that memorable mission below.