‘The Eagle Has Landed:’ Happy Anniversary, Apollo 11

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Forty two years ago today, Neil Armstrong uttered those iconic words. While NASA controllers in Houston, and much of the planet, held its collective breath, Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set down the Eagle Lunar Module, becoming the first men to land on the moon.

Apollo 11 blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Fla. on July 16, 1969. Four days later, the Eagle Lunar Module separated from the main spacecraft and Armstrong and Aldrin began their descent to the surface of the moon. At 4:17 p.m. Eastern Time, the Eagle touched down with only 25 seconds of fuel to spare. When Armstrong announced the landing, Charles Duke, the Capsule Communicator in Houston, spoke for millions across the world when he said, “Roger, Tranquillity, we copy you on the ground. You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We’re breathing again. Thanks a lot.” But the wait was only beginning.

(PHOTOS: To the Moon: The Eagle Has Landed)

The two astronauts were supposed to sleep for five hours, as they had been awake since the early morning. But Armstrong and Aldrin figured the wouldn’t be able to sleep anyway and began preparations to walk on the moon’s surface.

More than six hours later, just past 10:30 p.m. Eastern Time, Neil Armstrong opened the Eagle’s hatch, and just before 11 p.m. he set his left foot on the surface of the moon. Armstrong and Aldrin spent only two and a half hours exploring the surface, but they even received a congratulatory phone call from President Nixon from the Oval Office, patched through the communications center in Houston.

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Throughout the entire multi-hour event, millions around the world were glued to their televisions watching the landing live. You can experience it, pretty much like it was 42 years ago (with a few added trailers for the new Conan the Barbarian movie) with Daily Motion’s archived CBS footage in eight installments. Notice the genuine excitement on Walter Cronkite’s face when the capsule lands. What event since has captivated the world as that one did?

So thanks Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and of course Michael Collins, who piloted the command module while Armstrong and Aldrin landed, for your steely-eyed heroism 42 years ago.

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Nate Rawlings is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @naterawlings. Continue the discussion about Casey Anthony on TIME‘s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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