Destination Moon: 45 Years Ago Today, Apollo 11 Left Earth

Dustin Wicksell

45 years ago today, a Saturn V rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying three astronauts on the Apollo 11 mission that would place them on the moon.

Taking up the challenge leveled at them by President Kennedy eight years earlier, NASA scientists developed the technology that sent Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins to the moon, safely returning the trio to Earth a week later.

One of the those men, Buzz Aldrin, is celebrating the anniversary of Apollo 11 this week with a social media campaign, organized with the hashtag #apollo45, inviting people to share their memories of the lunar landing, which took place on July 20th, 1969. A dedicated YouTube channel currently hosts videos from public figures and ordinary people alike, reminiscing about the Apollo 11 landing.

As io9 points out, humans haven't been back to the moon since the Apollo missions officially ended in 1972, though that hasn't stymied our desire for exploration. NASA has openly declared that "the first humans who will step foot on Mars are walking the Earth today," while Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, expects humans to be walking on the red planet within 10 to 12 years.

— NASA (@NASA) July 16, 2014

The historic moment is also being commemorated by General Electric, a company deeply involved in the development of much of the technology used on the Apollo missions. GE has partnered with online retailer to release a limited edition version of the boots that Armstrong and Aldrin wore on the moon, USA Today reports.

The #apollo45 campaign, according to Aldrin, is designed to "remind the world about the Apollo missions and that we can still do impossible things." Recently, Buzz Aldrin has been in the news for his advocacy of a manned mission to Mars. As The Inquisitr previously reported, Aldrin has been vocal in his belief that, unlike the Apollo astronauts, the first people to set foot on Mars should not return, instead establishing a colony on the red planet.

Aldrin has also opened up recently about his alleged observation of a UFO during the Apollo 11 mission. In a recent Reddit AMA to promote #apollo45, Aldrin asserted that the UFO was simply one of four panels that were deployed as the astronauts extracted the lunar lander from the Saturn rocket.

While the next giant leap has yet to be written, it's worth a minute to remember that 45 years ago today, Apollo 11 took humanity's first step, headed for the moon.

[Image via NASA]