On this day in 1969, the famous Apollo 11 mission launched from Kennedy Space Center, soaring 238,857 miles to the moon.
Four days later, with Michael Collins orbiting above in the command module, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon's surface.
As millions on Earth watched spellbound on live television, Armstrong, followed by Aldrin, stepped down the ladder onto the powdery Sea of Tranquility.
The world listened in as President Nixon put in a long distance call to the moon. "Because of what you have done," he praised, "the heavens become a part of man's world." Ironically, CBS News reports that if the mission had failed, Nixon had a contingency eulogy ready to read to the world. A copy of the speech can be found in the National Archives.
Apollo 11 did not fail. The astronauts gathered photographs and information about gravitational forces in space. They brought back lunar rocks which continue to profoundly influence the scientific world.
According to California geology professor Lee Silver, the samples, "showed more about the first third of the solar system history than we ever got about studying the earth. The moon turned out to be the best source of insight."
From a distance, there are no borders, only possibilities.