Back to Earth
Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set up various equipments on the Moon including a seismograph for measuring moonquakes, and a device to reflect laser beams back to Earth. This device enabled scientists to measure the distance of the Moon from Earth to within a few centimeters. The astronauts also collected over 24 kilograms of rock and soil.
Armstrong’s moonwalk lasted a little over 2 hours while Aldrin’s a little under 2 hours. About 21 hours after they had landed, the duo crawled back into the EAGLE and blasted off from the Moon’s surface in the top half of the Lunar Module.
They soon rejoined the third member of the Apollo team, Michael Collins who had been patiently circling the Moon in the Command Module (COLUMBIA) while his colleagues on the moon’s surface were making history.
Jettisoning the Lunar Module, Apollo 11 left lunar orbit, on 22 July. It entered Earth’s atmosphere two days later, and splashed down in the Pacific Ocean, to bring to a successful and glorious end one of the greatest adventures man had ever undertaken.
Two countries had started out on the race to the moon. The U.S. had reached first, where was the Soviet Union?
Even as Apollo 11 was orbiting the Moon, the Soviet probe Luna 15 was heading for its surface in an attempt to collect some lunar soil ahead of the Americans. But the attempt ended in failure. The spacecraft crashed while trying to land, on the very day that the EAGLE touched down safely on it.