50 years ago today, men first stepped on the moon during NASA’s Apollo 11 mission; Neil Armstrong first, at 10:56pm EST, because he was closest to the door and Buzz Aldrin second.
When the lunar module finally landed on the moon at 4:17 p.m, only 30 seconds of fuel remained, as the crew had to improvise, manually piloting the ship past an area littered with boulders. When Mission control finally heard the words, “Houston… The Eagle has landed,” they erupted in celebration after long holding their breath.
At 10:56 p.m. EDT Armstrong was ready to take humankind’s first step on another world. With more than half a billion people watching on television, he climbed down the ladder and uttered the now famous words: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” WATCH a great retrospective video from ABC News… (1969)
Aldrin joined him shortly afterward, and offered a simple but powerful description of the lunar surface: “magnificent desolation.” They explored the surface for two and a half hours, collecting samples and taking photographs, leaving behind an American flag, a patch honoring the fallen Apollo 1 crew, and a plaque on one of Eagle’s legs. It reads, “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the moon. July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.”
In an interview years later, Armstrong praised the hundreds of thousands of people behind the project that President John Kennedy set in motion eight years earlier—to set a man on the moon before the end of the decade.
MORE Good News on this Day:
- The World Chess Federation (FIDE) was founded during the eighth summer Olympic games in Paris—and in 1966, this day began being heralded as International Chess Day (1924)
- The Methodist Church voted to allow women to become priests (1926)
- The world’s first-ever elected female head of government in the modern era was elected in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), Sirimavo Bandaranaike as Prime Minister (1960)
- Viking 1 landed on Mars and its robot spacecraft transmitted the first color images from the planet’s surface, the culmination of an 11-month journey (1976)
- Israel’s Shimon Peres visited Jordan, the highest ranking Israeli official to do so (1994)
- Canada became the fourth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage (2005)
And, on this day in 1985, treasure hunter Mel Fisher and his crew discovered part of the 1622 Spanish galleon wreck, the Nuestra Señora de Atocha, 40 miles off Key West, including an estimated $450 million motherlode that included 40 tons of gold and silver, 114,000 Spanish silver coins known as “pieces of eight”, Colombian emeralds, gold and silver artifacts, and 1000 silver ingots.
Mel struggled through decades of hard times treasure hunting in the Florida Keys with the motto Today’s the Day. Much of the bounty is on display in the nonprofit Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Museum, but snce 2001, treasure hunters have been limited by the adoption of the UNESCO treaty, the Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage.
Also, on this day in 1976, gymnast Shun Fujimoto won Olympic gold medals for himself and his Japanese team after breaking his knee during the floor exercise routine.
Performing with the injury, he scored 9.5 on the pommel horse and 9.7 on the rings, dismounting from the rings onto his broken knee from eight feet above ground and keeping his balance, landing on his feet. WATCH the video…
Also, Happy Birthday to Carlos Santana who turns 72 years old today. The Mexican and American musician became a star at Woodstock in the 1960s with his band, Santana. They pioneered a fusion of rock and Latin American music that featured blues guitar alongside congas not generally heard in rock music. Born to a mariachi musician, he won eight of his 10 Grammy Awards for the 1999 LP Supernatural.
One of the surprises of the Woodstock festival, Santana’s set was legendary for its 11-minute instrumental. He is perhaps best known for his other hits, Oye Como Va, Black Magic Woman, and Smooth. Read about his musical self-determination and inner self-discovery in his articulate 2014 memoir, The Universal Tone: Bringing My Story to Light, in which he wrote, “Love is the light that is inside of all of us, everyone.” –m2010 Photo by Larry Philpot -CC
On this day 98 years ago, Congresswoman Alice Mary Robertson, who was the first woman to defeat an incumbent congressman, became the first woman to preside over the floor of the US House of Representatives. Born in the Creek Nation to missionaries who translated many works into the Creek language, the Oklahoma politician maintained a strong commitment to Native American issues after leaving office. WATCH a video to learn more… (1921)