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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.

Coleman Lowndes is a lead producer who has covered history, culture, and photography since joining the Vox video team in 2017.

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.

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