Rare Apollo 11 footage reveals an unseen look at the three astronauts

Rare footage of Apollo 11 narrated by one of its astronauts reveals what it was like for the three men returning home after inspiring a generation 50 years ago

  • July 20 marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo mission’s moon landing with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin 
  • It was watched by around 600 million people around the world as it was broadcast live via NASA
  • Widely regarded as one of the most impressive feats of engineering in the history of our species  
  • Armstrong uttered ‘one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind’ and immortalised the phrase  

Never seen before footage of the Apollo 11 moon landing has been released to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the historic mission. 

It reveals the quarantine environment the astronauts were forced to sit through after returning to Earth as scientists tried to ensure they did not carry alien pathogens back form the moon. 

A modified gulf-stream trailer carried them to the multi-million dollar facility and the space rocks from the lunar surface were placed in an enclosure with lab mice to test if they were safe and the astronauts free of contamination. 

Experiments found the moon devoid of any harmful life and the Apollo 11 heroes eventually free to start a tour of celebration around the US and then the rest of the world. 

The footage, remastered as part of an upcoming Discovery Channel documentary called Apollo: The Hidden Films, which is narrated by Apollo astronauts – including Apollo 11’s own Michael Collins.  

July 20 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of when the human race achieved one of the most incredible feats of all time – venturing outside of our planet and two humans walking on the moon. 

The immortal footsteps of commander Neil Armstrong were inscribed into history when the whole world watch as he and Buzz Aldrin venture on to the lunar surface, placing the first indelible human mark on another world.  

‘One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind’ became arguably one of the most iconic phrases of the 21st century and the words reverberated around the planet after the Apollo 11 astronauts touched down safely in the ‘Eagle’ lander. 

America and the rest of the world has been marking the anniversary with a range of events and accolades, and MailOnline takes a look at the history of the Apollo programme and how it permanently shaped the world. 

Not only did the US succeed in beating arch-rivals the USSR to the moon but the space race of the 60s would lay the foundations for a half century of innovation and breakthroughs in a plethora of fields.   

The work done as part of the Apollo programme inspired a generation of people, who now lead the modern-day space race renaissance, with billionaires rushing to return to the moon and crafting plans to venture even further. 

The immortal footsteps of commander Neil Armstrong were inscribed into history when the whole world watch as he and Buzz Aldrin venture on to the lunar surface, placing the first indelible human mark on another world

APOLLO 11 FACTFILE 

Launch: 9.31am EDT (2.32pm BST), 16 July, 1969

Rocket – Saturn V, comprised of:

  • Columbia command module
  • Service module 
  • Lunar lander dubbed ‘Eagle’

Distance travelled: 450,000mile round-trip

Main touchdown: 10.17pm EDT (3.56am BST)

Time on moon: 21.5hours

Splashdown on Earth: 12.50pm EDT (5.50pm BST) around 900 miles south west of Hawaii in the North Pacific Ocean   

The infatuation with being the first nation to land a human being on the moon was born out of traditional rivalry between two global superpowers – the US and the USSR – as Cold War tensions mounted.

Soviet Russia took an early lead in the race, being the first to send a satellite and a human into space, forever etched in to the memory and history books in the form of Sputnik and Yuri Gargarin. 

America’s Mercury programme was accelerated to keep pace with the surging Soviets and their Vostok success. 

But the race was in its infancy, with the technology that saw the first man in space far from sufficient to safely land on the moon and return home. 

Soviet Russia continued to set the bar for space success until 1965, when the launch of the Gemini programme saw NASA pick up momentum and overtake their intercontinental nemesis. 

The Lunar Roving Vehicle is driven by astronaut John Young during the first Apollo 16 extravehicular activity in 1972, which was the United States’ fifth and penultimate moon landing

A total of nine Gemini missions in just 20 months saw the Americans become the overwhelming favourites to reach the moon first, spurred on by the immortal words of John F Kennedy’s famous speech at Rice University from 1962 still ringing in their ears. 

Spurred on by then senator Lyndon B Johnson, who said the Soviet dominance thus far in the space race was unacceptable and that ‘control of space means control of the world’, JFK issued a challenge to the nation. 

The pledge and the speech itself would be heard and answered by 400,000 Americans who combined to enable the success of Apollo 11. 

The president, who died just over a year after he delivered the rousing oration, proclaimed: ‘We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organise and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win.’

The surface of the moon as seen from the Apollo 11 shuttle while in lunar orbit.  The 1969 Apollo 11 voyage was the first time man walked on the moon

Astronaut David Scott salutes next to the American flag during the Apollo 15 mission, the fourth United States mission to the moon 

Astronaut Alan L  Bean, lunar module pilot, is photographed at quadrant II of the Lunar Module during the first Apollo 12 extravehicular activity on the moon

WHAT DID ASTRONAUTS EAT ON THE MOON? 

Apollo 11 astronauts were able to feast on a far wider range of meals than their predecessors.

Development in the storage and treatment of the food meant more food could be taken to space. 

The key breakthrough came in the form of using plastic bags made with a laminated film to remove any chance of a reaction.

Meals on board Eagle, the lunar lander, and Columbia, the command module, included pineapple bars, tuna salad and even cornflakes with powered milk. 

Some meals, such as chicken stew, required rehydrating and were fitted with a nozzle to allow cold or hot water to be inserted.

This all contributed to the three daily meals which took their calorie count to 2,800.

Favourite meals of the moonwalkers were spaghetti with meat sauce, scalloped potatoes and fruitcake cubes for Armstrong while Aldrin opted for shrimp.

They also had access to coffee, with 15 cups allocated to each man for the eight-day trip. 

And the space agency honoured the president posthumously by achieving his goal and sticking to his established timeline – beating it by three years when three Apollo astronauts took off from Cape Canaveral on July 16 1969 and landed on the lunar surface four days later. 

Three men were strapped on top of a Saturn V rocket which took off at 9:30am local time and their journey would last eight days before they splashed down back on Earth. 

In the intervening days they accomplished something no human had ever done before and brought back with them chunks of the moon from around 238,855 miles (384,400 km) away. 

Neil Armstrong was forced to manually land on the moon after the pre-determined area was littered with boulders which made it impossible. 

A manual landing saw him almost deplete his fuel reserves before touching down at the Sea of Tranquillity – and uttering yet another famous phrase: ‘The eagle has landed’.

Confirmation of the mission’s success was met with rapturous applause around the world as billions held their collective breath. 

None were more relived than those working at NASA headquarters however, who were responsible for building, guiding and assisting the astronauts on their pioneering mission.  

Alan Shepard became the first American in space on May 1961 launch when the rocket Freedom 7 blasted into orbit from Florida

Spectators watch the launch of the Apollo 16 where John Young and Charles Duke were the next men to walk on the moon. When the crew reached lunar orbit, the mission almost had to be aborted because of a problem with Command/Service Module’s main engine.

Astronaut Eugene A. Cernan, mission commander, walks toward the Lunar Roving Vehicle during extravehicular activity at the Taurus-Littrow landing site of NASA’s sixth and final Apollo lunar landing mission

Neil Armstrong inside Lunar Module on Apollo 11. His quote ‘one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind’ became arguably one of the most iconic phrases of the 21st century and the words reverberated around the planet after the Apollo 11 astronauts touched down safely in the ‘Eagle’ lander

View of Mission Control during Apollo 11 moonwalk. Not only did the US succeed in beating arch-rivals the USSR to the moon but the space race of the 60s would lay the foundations for a half century of innovation and breakthroughs in a plethora of field

 Manned Operations Control Room at the conclusion of Apollo 11. Experiments found the moon devoid of any harmful life and the Apollo 11 heroes eventually free to start a tour of celebration around the US and then the rest of the world

View of Mission Control during Apollo 11 moonwalk. America’s Mercury programme was accelerated to keep pace with the surging Soviets and their Vostok success

Neil Armstrong inside Lunar Module on Apollo 11. Neil Armstrong was forced to manually land on the moon after the pre-determined area was littered with boulders which made it impossible

It is well recorded that they had only a handful seconds of surplus fuel remaining when they made touchdown. 

In an exclusive piece penned for the front page of the Daily Mail a month after he returned home and completed his time in quarantine on Hawaii, he described seeing boulders ‘the size of Volkswagens’ and knew the original landing site would be unreachable.  

It was then that he hand steered the lander module to the surface of the moon. 

Upon initial touchdown he said:’The Eagle has landed.’

For 21.5 hours the astronauts would reside on the moon while their colleague, Michael Collins orbited high above them in lunar orbit in preparation of their return. 

They left the first footprints on the moon, left behind a plaque and conducted experiments as part of their landing all while being watched by around one fifth of the world’s population. 

They received a heroes welcome when they returned home four days later after successfully landing in the Pacific ocean just 13 miles from the intended aircraft carrier sent to pick them up. 

The astronauts spent eight days in quarantine where the space rocks they brought back with them were studied to ensure they were free of deadly pathogens. 

The Apollo 9space vehicle is launched from Pad A, Launch Complex 39, Kennedy Space Center on March 3, 1969

Eugene Cernan with Lunar Rover on Moon during Apollo 17. The final people to walk on the moon were Eugene (Gene) Cernan and Harrison (Jack) Schmitt.

WHO HAS BEEN TO THE MOON?

In total twelve people have walked on the moon.

1 + 2. Apollo 11 – July 21, 1969

Neil Armstrong made history by becoming the first person to set foot on the moon.  

Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin followed Neil Armstrong on to the surface of the moon.  His popular nickname gave itself to the animated characte Buzz Lightyear. 

3 + 4. Apollo 12 – November 19 and 20, 1969

Pete Conrad and Alan Bean were the moon walkers on the Apollo 12 mission. 

The Apollo 12 crew experienced two lightning strikes just after their Saturn V rocket launched.

5 + 6. Apollo 14 – February 5, 1971 

Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell who were part of the Apollo 14 mission. They launched on January 31, 1971, and landed in the Fra Mauro region of the moon, the original destination for Apollo 13.

7 + 8. Apollo 15 – July 31, 1971

David Scott and James Irwin landed on the moon and stayed for three days, until August 2nd. 

 9 + 10. Apollo 16 – April 21 1972

John Young and Charles Duke were the next men to walk on the moon. When the crew reached lunar orbit, the mission almost had to be aborted because of a problem with Command/Service Module’s main engine.

11 + 12. Apollo  17 – December 11, 1972

The final people to walk on the moon were Eugene (Gene) Cernan and Harrison (Jack) Schmitt. 

Before he left the moon, Cernan scratched the initials of his daughter Tracy into the lunar regolith. Since the moon does not experience weather conditions like wind or rain to erode anything away, her initials should stay there for a very long time. 

all the men on the moon 

Flight Director Glynn Lunney in Mission Control during Apollo 7. David Scott and James Irwin landed on the moon and stayed for three days, until August 2nd

The first container of Apollo 11 lunar samples. Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin followed Neil Armstrong on to the surface of the moon. His popular nickname gave itself to the animated characte Buzz Lightyear

Once cleared, they went on a celebratory tour of the world that saw them receive a range of gifts, including a boomerang from Australia and shake hundreds of thousands of hands, including one particularly notable one – that of Pope Paul VI.   

The rest of the Apollo missions saw a further ten men walk on the moon but dwindling budgets and national interest saw the Apollo programme terminated after Apollo 17. 

Apollo laid the foundations for many fields of research and the progress of the missions inspired a generation of engineers, pilots and scientists.   

Apollo 15 astronaut James Irwin explains the ALSEP (Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package) at a press conference

Apollo 11 Lunar Module before docking back with the Command Module. Not only did the US succeed in beating arch-rivals the USSR to the moon but the space race of the 60s would lay the foundations for a half century of innovation and breakthroughs in a plethora of fields.

The huge, 363-feet tall Apollo 14 space vehicle is launched from Pad A, Launch Complex 39, Kennedy Space Center, Florida

Neil Armstrong inside Lunar Module on Apollo 11

Apollo 7 S-IVB rocket stage in orbit. David Scott and James Irwin landed on the moon and stayed for three days, until August 2nd

Since Apollo, no man or woman has set foot on the moon but various robots have landed on the moon and beyond. 

The 842 pounds (382 kilograms) of space rocks are still revealing secrets about the moon, and Earth’s formation, today as new techniques discover new information. 

China joined the ranks of countries to complete a soft-landing on the moon and its Chang’e-4 lander became the only one to successfully touch down on the far side of the moon.  

Israel and India have launched plans to also go to the moon. 

NASA has pledged to return, and stay this time, to the moon by 2024 as well as plans to complete the lunar orbital gateway to ensure easier access to its surface.   

Private missions have also received widespread attention as billionaires Richard Branson, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos bank roll their own spaceflight companies. 

Virgin Galactic, SpaceX and Blue Otrigin are working alongside NASA, ESA and other bodies to make spaceflight more accessible, cheaper and more simplistic.  

The space race renaissance has some way to go before reaching the dizzying heights of the Apollo missions but it may well allow mankind to go back to the moon, and maybe even beyond.  

Astronaut Russell L. Schweickart, lunar module pilot, operates a 70mm Hasselblad camera during his extravehicular activity on the fourth day of the Apollo 9 earth-orbital mission

David Scott performing side hatch EVA during Apollo 9. John Young and Charles Duke were the next men to walk on the moon. When the crew reached lunar orbit, the mission almost had to be aborted because of a problem with Command/Service Module’s main engine.

The prime crew of NASA’s first manned Apollo Space Flight, named on March 21, 1966, are pictured during training in Florida. Left to right are astronauts Virgil I. Grissom, Edward H. White II, and Roger B. Chaffee

This is the first lunar sample that was photographed in detail in the Lunar Receiving Laboratory at the Manned Spacecraft Center

NASA Lunar Mission flight path diagram

WHAT WAS THE APOLLO PROGRAM?

NASA photo taken on July 16, 1969 shows the huge, 363-foot tall Apollo 11 Spacecraft 107/Lunar Module S/Saturn 506) space vehicle launched from Pad A, Launch Complex 39. Kennedy Space Center (KSC), at 9:32 a.m. (EDT).

Apollo was the NASA programme that launched in 1961 and got man on the moon.

The first four flights tested the equipment for the Apollo Program and six of the other seven flights managed to land on the moon.

The first manned mission to the moon was Apollo 8 which circled around it on Christmas Eve in 1968 but did not land.

The crew of Apollo 9 spent ten days orbiting Earth and completed the first manned flight of the lunar module – the section of the Apollo rocket that would later land Neil Armstrong on the Moon.  

The Apollo 11 mission was the first on to land on the moon on 20 July 1969.

The capsule landed on the Sea of Tranquillity, carrying mission commander Neil Armstrong and pilot Buzz Aldrin.

Armstrong and Aldrin walked on the lunar surface while Michael Collins remained in orbit around the moon. 

When Armstrong became the first person to walk on the moon, he said, ‘That’s one small step for (a) man; one giant leap for mankind.’

Apollo 12 landed later that year on 19 November on the Ocean of Storms, writes NASA.  

Apollo 13 was to be the third mission to land on the moon, but just under 56 hours into flight, an oxygen tank explosion forced the crew to cancel the lunar landing and move into the Aquarius lunar module to return back to Earth.  

Apollo 15 was the ninth manned lunar mission in the Apollo space program, and considered at the time the most successful manned space flight up to that moment because of its long duration and greater emphasis on scientific exploration than had been possible on previous missions. 

The last Apollo moon landing happened in 1972 after a total of 12 astronauts had touched down on the lunar surface.

Astronaut Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin unpacking experiments from the Lunar Module on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission. Photographed by Neil Armstrong, 20 July 1969

ABC correspondent Jules Bergman at desk before launch of Apollo 8

Crew men aboard the USS Iwo Jima, prime recovery ship for the Apollo 13 mission, hoist the Command Module aboard ship

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