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Remembering the U.S. moon landing, 45 years later

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It has been 45 years since we first landed on the moon.

Apollo 11 became the first manned spacecraft to make landing on July 20, 1969. Aboard were Commander Neil Armstrong, lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin, and command module pilot Michael Collins.

It took the crew 76 hours to reach the moon after leaving Earth. They traveled 240,000 miles to get there. That’s nearly 3,160 miles per hour.

According to CNN, President John F. Kennedy told Congress in May of 1961 that the “nation should commit itself to achieving the goal… of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”

“No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy told NASA Administrator James Webb in 1962 that the achievement was “a race” to get there ahead of the Russians.

On July 16, 1969, the Apollo 11 crew lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Roughly four days later, the crew landed.

“Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed,” Armstrong reports as the lunar module lands on the moon’s surface at the Sea of Tranquility. Several hours later, that famous statement happened.

“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” Armstrong said, as he became the first human to set foot on the moon. Aldrin joined Armstrong on the moon less than 30 minutes later. The who read from a plaque signed by all three crew members and then spoke to President Nixon via radio from the Oval Office for two minutes.

For more than two hours, Armstrong and Aldrin collected moon rock samples and data before spending the night on their spacecraft.

On July 21, the crew left the moon, transferred moon rocks, data and equipment after docking with Columbia, and then began its flight back to Earth.

The astronauts returned to Earth in the Pacific Ocean on July 24, roughly 900 miles from Hawaii. The total trip time was eight days, three hours and 18 minutes.

CNN contributed to this report.

Got a memory of the moon landing? Share it in the comments below.