Apollo 11 Flight Log, July 17, 1969: Course Correction to Reach the Moon
Apollo 11 crew: Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin.
Credit: NASA

Following a flawless launch the day before, the Apollo 11 crew continued their historic journey to the moon on July 17, 1969. Landing at the Sea of Tranquility was scheduled for July 20.

Commanding the crew was Neil Armstrong, slated to pilot the lunar module Eagle to the surface and be the first person to walk on the moon; Buzz Aldrin, the lunar module pilot who would follow him onto the lunar surface; and Michael Collins, who would remain in orbit in the command module, Columbia.

Earth's gravity was gradually slowing down the crew and their docked spacecraft as they made the long trip to the moon. As of about 11 p.m. EDT the night before, their spacecraft was travelling less than 5,000 mph (8,000 km/h) — about one-fifth the speed they experienced when they first rocketed away from Earth.

Crewmembers received a dose of morning news over the radio while speaking with Mission Control; they learned that vice president Spiro T. Agnew (who attended the Apollo 11 launch) wanted a man on Mars by the year 2000. [Current plans call for getting NASA astronauts to the vicinity of the Red Planet by the mid-2030s.]

At 12:17 p.m., Armstrong and his crew fired the engines on Columbia for three seconds to make a brief course correction. The procedure was also supposed to test how well the engines were working, an important milestone given that Columbia needed to use them to get into and out of lunar orbit.

About seven hours later, the crew did a color television broadcast from the spacecraft, showing viewers what Earth looks like from about 147,300 miles (237,000 kilometers) away. The program lasted 36 minutes and was broadcast to people all over the world.

You can also read Space.com's Apollo 11 flight log entry for launch day, July 16, 1969.

Follow Elizabeth Howell @howellspace, or Space.com @Spacedotcom. We're also on Facebook and Google+Originally published on Space.com.