The landing on July 20, 1969

The landing on July 20, 1969

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Title: Apollo 11: Aldrin on the Moon

Creation date : July 20, 1969

Date shown: July 20, 1969

Technique and other indications: photograph / American astronaut Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin made his first steps on the Moon near the American flag on July 20 (21), 1969 during the Apollo 11 lunar mission --- American astronaut Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin walking on the moon on july 20, 1

Contact copyright: © Bridgemanimages / Leemage

Picture reference: 1700098

Apollo 11: Aldrin on the Moon

© Bridgemanimages / Leemage

Publication date: May 2019

Historical context

A dream come true

On July 20, 1969, live on Mondovision, a man set foot on the Moon. The two documentary series mark the end of an era: the Moon is no longer an object of reverie, the trip to the satellite is no longer a fantasy. NASA's Apollo 11 mission, very risky, is a total success which erases the American delay on the Soviets - the latter launched in 1957 the Sputnik, the first artificial satellite around the Earth, then animals (the dog Laïka) , the first man in space on April 12, 1961 (Yuri Gagarin) and the first woman, Valentina Tereshkova, in 1963.

While Michael Collins (b.1930) is in charge of the command module, Armstrong, Korean War veteran pilot, rocket test pilot, experienced space mission technician, was logically chosen as commander of the mission and pilot of the lunar module. They also spend a few minutes setting up a commemorative plaque and photographing the surroundings, footprints, and Aldrin in his astronaut suit.

Image Analysis

The new image of the moon

Until that beautiful day in 1969, man admired the Moon from afar, drawn, scanned with a telescope. The Soviets photographed its dark side well in 1963, mapped it in 1965, but the successful live-filmed moon landing and snapshots taken from the moon itself are a game-changer. Multiple footsteps in the foreground reveal Armstrong's journey in the minutes leading up; still shy in this totally unknown space, he limited himself to the immediate surroundings of the Apollo probe module. All the elements of the spatial imagination that will now flourish in cinema are present. The gray dust on the ground, the long shadows and unusual illumination of the Sun, the absence of atmosphere and all traces of life give the scene an air of eternity. The shiny spaceship, all in metal, and the white spacesuit that conceals the hero of the space conquest, attest that human technique has once again been able to push its limits. Finally, the star-spangled banner, daughter of the flags planted in the previous century on the poles by extreme explorers, gives an undeniable American accent to the adventure.

Interpretation

The American Dream of Greatness

The recent publication of NASA's Photographic Archives for the 1960s shows that its leaders have carefully chosen the most symbolic images - particularly the one associating the Moon, the American flag, the module and Buzz Aldrin - and discarded many failed snaps from among the 339 carried out on the satellite (1,470 for the mission as a whole). The successful moon landing is a scientific feat, but above all a symbol of American imperial power and a formidable color advertisement, like the television that prevails in homes. Lyndon Johnson's United States widely disseminates these photographs and television images around the world proving that the dream John F. Kennedy made in 1961 has come true. Propaganda uses all available media and creates a material culture around the conquest of space (stamps, models, postcards, etc.). The astronauts, having returned to Earth safe and sound, are engaged in an extensive conference campaign.

This event of planetary importance takes place in the context of the cold war re-launched by Nikita Khrushchev after the death of Stalin (1953). The United States won the challenge to the Soviets. Besides the untimely death of their brilliant engineer Sergei Korolev in 1966, the lack of a single direction of the space program and erratic funding doomed any chance of success. Exceptional resources were made available to NASA, which proceeded by successive tests and ended up attempting to land on the eleventh Apollo mission. With this program, proof is therefore made that American science wins over its opponent. Under scientific cover, the Apollo mission is put forward as a unifying element for Americans whose patriotism is at half mast because of the military engagement in Vietnam, also shaken by the struggle of African Americans for civil rights. It also paves the way for imperialist ambitions at the top of the state: not always realistic, they are largely fueled by communication from NASA, which has become a state within a state thanks to the space race.

  • Moon
  • Space conquest
  • United States
  • Russia
  • NASA
  • Armstrong (Neil)
  • Aldrin (Edwin / Buzz)
  • Collins (Michael)
  • Korolev (Sergei)
  • cold War
  • television
  • propaganda
  • patriotism
  • space

To cite this article

Alexandre SUMPF, "The moon landing on July 20, 1969"


Video: The Landing