Today is the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch for the moon. On this day in 1969, Neil A. Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr. were propelled by a Saturn V rocket into orbit. Their liftoff was not just historic; it was photogenic.

Photograph from an Air Force EC135N chase plane. Look familiar? This launch serves as the icon for the Space subsite, linking astronomy, humans, and planetary science.

On Wednesday, July 16, 1969 at 9:32 am EDT, the Saturn V rocket lifted off from Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center, climbing into orbit. At 2.5 minutes into flight, the spacecraft is at 39 miles altitude, 55 miles downrange from the launch location.


The 363-feet tall Apollo 11 (Spacecraft 107/Lunar Module 5/Saturn 506) launched from Pad A, Launch Complex 39 at the Kennedy Space Center. If you really want to be cool and embrace the acronym jumble, that's KSC39A.

Not only was the launch photogenic (an important criterion for me basking in a successful SpaceX launch or grumping about it), but the Earth was being stunning as usual. The astronauts could gaze home on a world of water, clouds, and beauty after completing a translunar injection.


Image credit: NASA