The Apollo 11 mission launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida via the Marshall Space Flight Center developed Saturn V launch vehicle on July 16, 1969 and safely returned to Earth on July 24, 1969. Aboard the space craft were astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, commander; Michael Collins, Command Module (CM) pilot; and Edwin E. "Buzz" Aldrin Jr., Lunar Module (LM) pilot. With the success of Apollo 11, the national objective to land men on the Moon and return them safely to Earth had been accomplished. After 2½ hours of surface exploration, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin returned to the LM “Eagle” for rest, eating, and checkout of the vehicle in preparation for liftoff. The LM was a two part spacecraft. Its lower or descent stage had the landing gear, engines, and fuel needed for the landing. When the LM blasted off the Moon, the descent stage served as the launching pad for its companion ascent stage, which was also home for the two astronauts on the surface of the Moon. The LM was full of gear with which to communicate, navigate, and rendezvous. It also had its own propulsion system, and an engine to lift it off the Moon and send it on a course toward the orbiting CM. In this photograph, the ascent stage is seen back dropped my Earth just prior to its rendezvous with the CM
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