Apollo 11 Flight Log, July 22, 1969: Firing Engines for Earth Return

One-third of the Earth's sphere illuminated, Earth's terminator, sunglint, a portion of east Africa, as photographed from the Apollo 11 spacecraft during its first lunar landing mission in July 1969.
A crescent Earth hangs in the black of space in this amazing photo captured by Apollo 11 astronauts during NASA's historic first manned moon landing between July 16 and 24 in 1969.
(Image: © NASA)

Just two days after landing on the moon, it was time for the Apollo 11 crew to make the journey back to Earth. Their lunar module, Eagle, was now jettisoned and the three men were inside their command module, Columbia, preparing to turn on the engines to head back home.

At 12:56 a.m. EDT, the crew did the "transearth injection burn" to bring them to a speed of roughly 3,600 miles per hour (5,850 km/hr). This maneuver put Neil Armstrong (commander), Michael Collins (command module pilot) and Buzz Aldrin (lunar module pilot) on a path back to Earth.

Apollo 11 Moon Landing 45th Anniversary: Complete Coverage

A crescent Earth hangs in the black of space in this amazing photo captured by Apollo 11 astronauts during NASA's historic first manned moon landing between July 16 and 24 in 1969.
(Image credit: NASA)

 

The Apollo 11 crew went to sleep at 4:30 a.m. EDT with their spacecraft coasting away from the moon, monitored by controllers in Houston at Mission Control. Their sleep period lasted until about 1 p.m. EDT, shortly before the spacecraft passed the spot where Earth's gravity took over from that of the moon. That location was about 38,900 miles (63,000 kilometers) from the moon and 200,000 miles (322,250 kilometers) from Earth.

While examining the trajectory of Columbia in Mission Control, the team determined it was best for the astronauts to do a midcourse correction to bring them on the correct path to Earth. The astronauts fired Columbia's engines at 4:02 p.m. to readjust the flight. Five hours later, the crew did a short television broadcast to Earth, lasting about 18 minutes.

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