Space History Photo: Apollo 11 Launch
The first lunar landing, Apollo 11, framed with the American flag.
Credit: NASA

In this historical photo from the U.S. space agency, the American flag heralds the flight of Apollo 11, the first lunar landing mission. The Apollo 11 Saturn V space vehicle lifted off with astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr., at 9:32 a.m. EDT July 16, 1969, from Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39A.

During the eight-day mission, Armstrong and Aldrin descended in a lunar module to the moon's surface on Mare Tranquillitatis, or the Sea of Tranquility, while Collins orbits overhead in the Command Module.

The caption with the photo when it was released read: “The two astronauts are to spend 22 hours on the Moon, including two and one-half hours outside the lunar module. They will gather samples of lunar material and will deploy scientific experiments which will transmit data about the lunar environment. They will rejoin Collins in the Command Module for the return trip to Earth.”

Each weekday, SPACE.com looks back at the history of spaceflight through photos (archive).