Moon Landing Facts for Kids
On the 16th July 1969, the spacecraft Apollo 11 was launched. Its mission? To land on the Moon! Read all about this historic event in our ‘Moon Landing Facts for Kids’ blog.
In America in 1962, President Kennedy made a bold and ambitious statement, “We choose to go to the Moon”. For the next seven years, the US space agency, NASA, employed 400,000 people and spent $25 billion (£20 billion) on making this mission possible. On the 16th July, 1969, after years of planning and preparation, the Apollo 11 mission was about to begin…
Commander Neil Armstrong and two other astronauts, Lunar Module Pilot Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, and Command Module Pilot Michael Collins, woke up to a beautiful sunny day at Cape Kennedy in Florida. They had a breakfast of steak, scrambled eggs, toast, coffee and orange juice before travelling to the launchpad.
They climbed into the spacecraft at 6:45am, and after numerous checks of the equipment, successfully launched just under 3 hours later, at 9:32 am. They entered an elliptical Earth orbit just 12 minutes later.
The rest of the day went smoothly with no problems for the astronauts. They went to bed two hours earlier than planned, at 8:52pm. The spacecraft continued its programmed journey to the Sea of Tranquillity; their destination on the Moon. (The Sea of Tranquillity isn’t actually a sea - there is no water on the Moon’s surface. Early astronomers mistook the dark patches for large areas of water, and so named them ‘seas’.)
Apollo 11 travelled around 240,000 miles in 76 hours before it finally entered a lunar orbit on 19th July. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin prepared to travel to the surface of the Moon in the lunar module, Eagle, whilst Michael Collins remained behind in the command module, circling the Moon.
They landed on the Moon on 20th July, 1969 at 8:18pm. A five-hour rest period had been scheduled after the landing, but neither astronaut thought that they would be able to sleep, so they began preparations for leaving Eagle. After 6 hours, Neil Armstrong finally exited the lunar module and stepped onto the surface, making history as the first human being to walk on the Moon. As he stepped from Eagle, he uttered the following now famous words…
“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Buzz Aldrin joined Neil Armstrong on the surface about 20 minutes later, and simply said…
They took many photos of the Moon’s surface, as well as collecting 21.5kg of soil and rock samples to take back to Earth. The astronauts planted a specially designed American flag on the surface of the Moon. A short time later, Neil Armstrong spoke to the American President, Richard Nixon, via a telephone-radio transmission. The president stated that for Americans, ‘it was the proudest day of (their) lives’. Neil replied that it was an honour and privilege to represent ‘men of peace of all nations’. A plaque was placed on the surface which said, ‘Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon, July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for mankind.’ It also had two drawings of Earth, and included the signatures of the three astronauts and President Nixon.
After being on the surface of the Moon for over 22 hours, the astronauts returned to Eagle for 7 hours rest, before rejoining Michael Collins onboard the command module. They re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere on 24th July, and deployed the command module’s parachute, landing safely in the Pacific Ocean. From launch to the splash down in the ocean, the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon lasted exactly 8 days, 3 hours, 18 minutes and 35 seconds. (This was 36 minutes longer than planned!)
If you are looking for resources about the Moon landing or space exploration, check out our FREE Moon Landing Picture Cards or our Neil Armstrong Word Search. PlanBee also has some ready-to-teach lessons about Neil Armstrong, as well as a whole Space Topic!
10 Fascinating Facts about the Moon Landing:
- The Moon is an average of 238,855 miles away from Earth (that’s the equivalent of travelling from Land’s End to John o’ Groats 273 times!).
- The Apollo 11 spacecraft was over 110 metres tall.
- Today, most mobile phones are more powerful than the Apollo 11’s computers.
- The lunar module, Eagle, was so small that there was no room for seats - Armstrong and Aldrin had to stand.
- Three new minerals were discovered on the Moon, one of which was called Armalcolite - named after Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins.
- On the Moon, gravity is only one sixth as strong as it is on Earth - this means you can jump six times higher on the Moon than you can here!
- Armstrong said that the Moon smelled like ‘wet ashes in a fireplace’.
- Black and white footage of the Moon landing was transmitted to Earth and watched by 600 million people (that was then a fifth of the world’s population.)
- After returning to Earth, the astronauts had to spend 21 days in quarantine.
- Katherine Johnson, an African American mathematician, made the calculations that ensured the mission to the moon was possible. Her achievement paved the way for more women and ethnic minorities to make progress in this field, too.