Once the stuff of myth and legend, that wheel of holey cheese looming in the night sky became a part of mankind’s domain when Apollo 11, the first manned space mission to the Moon, touched down on July 20, 1969. Decades of experimentation, research and competition with the Soviets culminated in Neil Armstrong’s quote that will live into perpetuity: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” TIME’s cover story underscored the drama and determination that led to such a coveted moment.
After centuries of dreams and prophecies, the moment had come. Man had broken his terrestrial shackles for the first time and set foot on another world. Standing on the lifeless, rock-studded surface he could see the earth, a lovely blue and white hemisphere suspended in the velvety black sky. The spectacular view might well help him place his problems, as well as his world, in a new perspective.