TIME space

45 Years Later: 5 GIFs of NASA’s First Moon Landing

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first two people to land on the lunar surface, while their third crew member, Michael Collins, continued to orbit around the moon. Armstrong and Aldrin arrived in the Lunar Module (LM) Eagle, one of three parts of the Apollo 11 spacecraft which also included a Command Module (CM) Columbia and a Command Service Module (CSM) to support Columbia. Approximately six and half hours after a rocky landing, Armstrong and Aldrin exited the LM and set foot on the moon to begin their Extra Vehicular Activities (EVA), with Armstrong uttering his now famous words, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

In addition to performing several experiments and collecting samples from the lunar surface, the two meticulously photographed every stage of the EVA with specially designed Hasselblad cameras (one of which was actually left on the moon to help lighten the load on the LM as they returned to Columbia).

All of the images taken by Aldrin and Armstrong were scanned and archived, and are available to the public through NASA’s Apollo Lunar Surface Journal. Below, in honor of the 45th anniversary of the moon landing, TIME has assembled 5 GIFs from Aldrin, Armstrong, and Collins’ images showing in detail some of the historic moments captured by the Apollo 11 crew.

  • Buzz Aldrin Descends The Lunar Module Ladder

    Buzz Aldrin descends the Lunar Module ladder
    Neil Armstrong—NASA (5); Gif by Mia Tramz for TIME

    Neil Armstrong took two photos of Buzz Aldrin coming out of the hatch of the Lunar Module, and the four more photos as he climbed down the LM’s ladder and hit the foot pad. Aldrin’s ops antenna is visible in the last frame.

  • Buzz Aldrin Makes a Lunar Foot Print

    Buzz Aldrin's foot print on the moon
    Buzz Aldrin—NASA (3); Gif by Mia Tramz for TIME

    In this series of three images, Buzz Aldrin photographs the lunar surface before and after making a foot print on it. He had taken his camera off it its RCU bracket and shot these pictures holding the camera in his gloved hands. This 16mm movie camera mounted in his LM window captured Aldrin on film taking these pictures.

  • Buzz Aldrin Sets Up the EASEP

    Buzz Aldrin sets up the EASEP
    Neil Armstrong—NASA (7); Gif by Mia Tramz for TIME

    In this series of images, Armstrong captures Aldrin setting up the EASEP (Early Apollo Surface Experiments Package). Aldrin has the LRRR (Laser Ranging Retro Reflector) in his right hand, and the seismometer package in his left hand. As of December 2010, the retroreflectors were still being used in conjunction with a dedicated facility at the MacDondald Observatory in Texas.

  • Earthrise Captured from the Command Module

    Earthrise captured from the Command Module
    NASA (8); Gif by Mia Tramz for TIME

    A view of the Earthrise taken from the Command Module Columbia as it was passing over Mare Smythii. Australia is visible at the left on Earth’s surface, just above the lunar horizon.

  • Apollo 11 Lunar Module Rendevous with Command Module

    Apollo 11 Lunar Module Rendevous with Command Module
    Michael Collins—NASA (13); Gif by Mia Tramz for TIME

    This series of images captures the Lunar Module approaching the Command Service Module at rendezvous and was shot handheld by astronaut Michael Collins. Earthrise is visible in the last four frames.

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