Apollo 11 Flight Log, July 21, 1969: Launching from the Moon

Click unmute on the video above hear mission audio from Flight Day 6  - Moon Liftoff Day - of the Apollo 11 mission and listen to over 50 minutes of audio in the video from NASA below.

After what must surely have been an exciting day, Apollo 11 moonwalkers Neil Armstrong (commander) and Buzz Aldrin (lunar module pilot) were told to sleep around 4:25 a.m. They had just spent about 2.5 hours walking on the surface of the Sea of Tranquility and also fielding geology questions from an eager Mission Control, back on Earth. Armstrong slept in a hammock on the hatch and engine cover, while Aldrin slept on the floor.

Circling overhead, alone in his command module Columbia, was pilot Michael Collins. "Not since Adam has any human known such solitude as Mike Collins is experiencing during this 47 minutes of each lunar revolution when he's behind the Moon with no one to talk to except his tape recorder aboard Columbia," a broadcast from Mission Control stated that morning.

Related: The Weirdest Things Apollo Astronauts Left on the Moon

Eagle took off from the moon at 1:54 p.m., leaving its descent stage behind as planned. To lighten their load on the ride into orbit, the astronauts left several other items behind # including two still cameras, their "backpacks" or portable life support systems and their boots. Of course, they also left behind their experiments and an American flag that were erected on the moon.

It took four hours for Eagle to meet up with Columbia, which was the astronauts' ride back home. The two spacecraft docked at 5:35 p.m., reuniting the Apollo 11 crew for the first time since the landing. At 7:42 p.m., the astronauts jettisoned Eagle forever, getting them ready for the trip back to Earth.

With the first manned moon landing behind them and the astronauts now in one spacecraft again, the next task would be to bring everyone back to Earth for a planned landing on July 24.

Related: NASA's Historic Apollo 11 Moon Landing in Pictures

Editor's note: This feature, originally posted in 2014, has been updated for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission.  Space.com contributor Chelsea Gohd contributed to this report.

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

Click unmute on the video above hear mission audio from Flight Day 4  - Moon Landing Day - of the Apollo 11 mission and listen to over 50 minutes of audio in the video from NASA below.

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for Space.com for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace