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Apollo 11’s journey to the moon, annotated

The moon landing was accomplished through the careful deconstruction of the Saturn V rocket and the Apollo spacecraft.

Apollo 11 launched on July 16, 1969, carrying astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins on a journey to pull off humankind’s first moon landing. The mission was the culmination of years of research and preparation, and the pinnacle of the so-called “space race” between the United States and the Soviet Union, a years-long rivalry in which both sides competed for dominance in space exploration.

Apollo 11’s flight path.
NASA, Coleman Lowndes/Vox

The eight-day journey was made possible by the careful deconstruction of the Saturn V rocket and Apollo spacecraft. At one point, the spacecraft even completely rearranged itself mid-flight.

The final landing on the lunar surface was made possible by a tightly coordinated descent process, and eventually led to the first spacecraft launch from a non-Earth surface.

The Saturn V rocket and Apollo spacecraft

Each component played an important role in the mission. Watch the video above to see how, and subscribe to Vox’s YouTube channel for more videos.