Apollo 11 lifts off from Earth. (NASA)

Apollo 11 orbiting the Moon (NASA)


It is 9:32 a.m. on July 16, and Apollo 11 is go for launch. The thunderclap of liftoff rolls across the Florida fields. The rocket rises into the sky. In three minutes, Apollo 11 vanishes from sight. Before liftoff, the crew had named the LM the Eagle and the command module Columbia. For three days they fly with Columbia and the Eagle nose to nose. Millions of people watch the live television broadcast from inside Columbia. Excitement is high. As Collins puts it, "All of us are aware… [that] we are about to lay our little pink bodies on the line." When they get near the moon, the astronauts have to fire Columbia's engine to slow down. They successfully enter orbit 65 miles above a full moon.