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Today (July 16) marks 50 years since astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins began their historic flight to the moon.
By 6:45 a.m. this day in 1969, the astronauts had eaten their steak-and-egg breakfasts, suited up, and had strapped themselves into the spacecraft. The weight of the moment hung thick in the air and the world watched as the crew prepared to make humanity's inaugural flight to the lunar surface.
Am - NASA - Saturn - V - Rocket
At 9:32 a.m., NASA's Saturn V rocket ignited and, with 7.6 million lbs. (34.5 million newtons) of thrust, lifted off from launch pad 39A. Perfect weather met the Apollo 11 launch and spectators flocked to Kennedy Space Center and the surrounding area in Florida to catch a glimpse of the 363-foot (111-meter) tall rocket blasting off from Earth.
Two minutes and 42 seconds after launch, the rocket dropped its first stage, which fell into the Atlantic Ocean. After dropping the interstage skirt and the launch escape tower, the rocket dropped its second stage. Just ten seconds later, the third stage engine ignited and, just 11 minutes and 39 seconds after launch, the spacecraft reached an elliptical orbit around Earth, traveling at 17,432 mph (28,000 kph).
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