RAS reflects on 50 years since Apollo 11

Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin standing on the surface of the Moon. Image cropped from NASA original.
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Half a century ago the Apollo 11 lunar module touched down on the surface of the Moon. The NASA spacecraft made its descent on 20 July 1969, four days after its launch from the Kennedy Space Center. Six and a half hours later, astronaut Neil Armstrong took his first steps on lunar soil, the climax of a phenomenal effort by the United States to send humans to the Moon that culminated in six landings on our neighbouring world.

This month we celebrate this remarkable achievement, one of the seminal moments of the twentieth century. Events in the US and around the world, including in the UK, invite the public to look again at the Moon, and the accomplishments of the Apollo program. With a renewed interest in sending people there – including by the UK through its membership of the European Space Agency – this is also a time to look forward to future space exploration and the opportunities it offers for planetary and Earth science and astronomy.

Professor Mike Cruise, the President of the Royal Astronomical Society, said: “I was a young space scientist when the Apollo 11 spacecraft landed, but the memory of this extraordinary moment has stayed with me throughout my life. The grand ambitions of the Apollo program inspired people around the world and the 50th anniversary is a special moment. It is a time to reflect not only on the heroism of the astronauts and the amazing talents of all those involved in the missions, but to think big once again about exploring space, and the exciting prospects for those considering careers in science.”


Media contacts



  • Professor Mike Cruise, President, Royal Astronomical Society (in London)
  • Professor Mahesh Anand, Vice-President, Royal Astronomical Society (in California)
  • Dr Katherine Joy, University of Manchester (at Bluedot festival in Cheshire / in Manchester)
  • Professor Ian Crawford, Birkbeck / UCL (in London)
  • Dr Robert Massey, Deputy Executive Director, Royal Astronomical Society (at Bluedot festival in Cheshire)


Please arrange interviews by contacting one of the following:

Robert Massey

Royal Astronomical Society

Mob: +44 (0)7802 877 699



Morgan Hollis

Royal Astronomical Society

Mob: +44 (0)7802 877 700



Notes for editors


The Royal Astronomical Society (RAS, www.ras.ac.uk), founded in 1820, encourages and promotes the study of astronomy, solar-system science, geophysics and closely related branches of science. The RAS organises scientific meetings, publishes international research and review journals, recognises outstanding achievements by the award of medals and prizes, maintains an extensive library, supports education through grants and outreach activities and represents UK astronomy nationally and internationally. Its more than 4,000 members (Fellows), a third based overseas, include scientific researchers in universities, observatories and laboratories as well as historians of astronomy and others.


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Submitted by Morgan Hollis on Wed, 17/07/2019 - 16:30