On July 20, 1969, just after 8:15 p.m. on the East Coast, the American lunar module “Eagle” landed on the surface of the moon. Six hours later, Neil Armstrong was the first human being to set foot on a celestial body other than Earth.
Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin spent a little over two hours walking on the surface of the moon, collecting rock samples and taking pictures. The third crew member, Michael Collins, orbited the moon in the command module, Columbia. The Eagle would rejoin the Columbia 21 hours later for the return trip to Earth.
The astronauts left behind an American flag and the bottom assembly of the lunar module. On the module, there is a plaque, which reads: “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon, July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind”
The Apollo 11 capsule splashed into the Pacific Ocean about 900 miles southwest of Hawaii on July 24. The astronauts were recovered by an aircraft carrier, the USS Hornet, and immediately put into a mobile quarantine unit. They remained quarantined for 21 days, in case they had picked up any hazardous microbes on the Moon. (They had not. The quarantine protocol was discontinued after Apollo 14.)
The United States would successfully send five more Apollo missions to the moon, ending with Apollo 17 in 1972. In total, twelve Americans walked on the moon during the Apollo years.
No one has been back since.