July 20, 1969: “One giant leap for mankind.”
The most distant leg of Nasa’s Apollo 11 mission saw the lunar module, or LEM, detach from the orbiting space capsule and head to the Moon’s surface. Astronaut Neil Armstrong could see the landing target, in a vast area named the Sea of Tranquility, was strewn with boulders. Taking control manually, he glided over the surface in search of smoother terrain, with fuel perilously low. Too far and he and his partner Buzz Aldrin would have to abort the mission. But a rocky landing that damaged the LEM could have left them to die on the surface.