After just one-and-a-half orbits of the Earth, the S-IVB upper stage kicked the spacecraft onto its translunar trajectory. Once safely on its way, the CSM Columbia eased free of the rocket stage, turned through 180 degrees, and docked with the LM Eagle, which had nestled beneath it during the launch.
Safely freed from the rocket, Apollo 11 sped on towards the Moon. The journey took a little over three days - then came the vital retro-rocket burn to slip into lunar orbit and the preparations for separation of the LM and CSM. Twenty-five hours after arrival, a 30-second burn on Eagle's descent engine dropped it into an orbit that took it within 13km (8 miles) of the surface. Inside the LM, Armstrong and Aldrin stood side by side, held in place by elastic stays. Face-down to the surface, they watched the landscape roll past beneath them until Houston gave the final go-ahead to land. Now Armstrong used a fine-guidance controller to throttle the descent engines while Aldrin read the module's altitude and fuel. Both astronauts stared out of the windows, looking for a smooth area to land. Spotting a dusty plain, Armstrong eased the spacecraft down, making contact with the surface with barely 20 seconds of descent fuel remaining.
Work in Mission Control is all but forgotten as the controllers turn from their desks to watch pictures of the first Moon landing coming back from Apollo 11.
Michael Collins took this photograph of Apollo 11's Lunar Module as it began to draw away from his CSM on the long spiral down to the Moon. The LM executed a complete rotation outside the CSM's windows, while Collins looked for any signs of damage inflicted by the stresses of launch.
Shortly after separation, Armstrong and Aldrin pass over their target - "Landing Site 2" in the Sea of Tranquillity. In this photograph, it lies just to the right of centre on the edge of the retreating night shadow.
Looking back at the CSM from their elliptical orbit, the LM astronauts can see it against the lightly cratered Sea of Fertility. At the lowest point in their orbit, Armstrong triggers the engines and the LM begins its final descent.
The astronauts soon realize they are landing several miles off target. As the automatic descent is heading for a field of large boulders, Armstrong takes manual control, bringing the LM down in a smoother area.
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