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Neil Armstrong's photo legacy: Rare views of first man on the moon
Photos credit: NASA / Retro Space Images

Because the camera Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin used on the lunar surface had no viewfinder and was worn on their chest during the moonwalk, a lot of practice was needed to master their use. Among the modifications made to the off-the-shelf Hasselblad camera, was the addition of a handle to facilitate its use on the lunar surface.

In total, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took 123 photographs during their 2 hour and 36 minute moonwalk.

Neil Armstrong in the "Flying Bedstead," or as it was more formally known, the Lunar Landing Training Vehicle (LLTV). Two months before launching on Apollo 11, Armstrong escaped seconds from serious injury or death when he was forced to eject from an out-of-control LLTV just 100 feet (30 meters) above the ground. Armstrong's only injury from the near-miss was that he bit his tongue.

Two days before lifting off for the moon on a Saturn V rocket on July 16, 1969, Neil Armstrong is seen reviewing the Apollo 11 flight plan.

Neil Armstrong with fellow astronaut Don Lind in Kennedy Space Center's Flight Crew Training Building, July 10, 1969.

As Neil Armstrong and his Apollo 11 crewmates suited up for launch, NASA invited artist Paul Calle to document the scene. Calle, who died in January 2011 at age 82, created pen and ink sketches that captured the three astronauts' preparations.

The pressure, or "bubble" helmet, that Armstrong wore for launch was the same helmet he wore on the moon. Before walking on the lunar surface, he (and Buzz Aldrin) donned the Lunar Extravehicular Visor Assembly (LEVA), a shell that fit over the bubble with the cover, visors, hinges, eyeshades, and latch attached. The LEVA included two visors, two visors, one covered with a thermal control coating and the other with a gold optical coating.

Led by Neil Armstrong, the crew of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission is seen arriving atop Pad A, Launch Complex 39 at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, during the prelaunch countdown on July 16, 1969. Liftoff was at 9:32 a.m. EDT.

Just an hour into the mission, Buzz Aldrin took out the Hasselblad camera and snapped this somewhat blurred photo of Armstrong inside the command module Columbia. "Let's get into the Hasselblad... get the right settings on it," Aldrin said just before taking this photo.

This is not a photograph of Neil Armstrong, though it is the clearest image of his face while on the lunar surface. This is a high definition scan from the Apollo 11 on-board motion picture (film) footage. The still shows Armstrong shortly after he collected a sample of lunar dust and rocks. At his feet is the handle for the sample collection tool.

Were this photo taken of a solar wind experiment taken a few seconds earlier or directed more to left, it would have caught Neil Armstrong in full frame. Rather, this shot shows him stepping out of the frame, his red-lettered name tag visible on his life support backpack.

Buzz Aldrin took a much clearer shot of Neil Armstrong inside the lunar module Eagle after their moonwalk, and as such it is much more frequently seen. This slightly out-of-focus shot captures a smiling Armstrong standing by his window while still on the lunar surface.

Neil Armstrong and his crew returned to Earth on July 24, 1969 but were immediately quarantined in the unlikely chance there were "moon germs" that could be hazardous to life on Earth. It wasn't until after Apollo 14, that the moon was declared devoid of indigenous life.

Splashing down in the Pacific, the Apollo 11 crew didn't reach shore (inside the Mobile Quarantine Trailer on board the USS Hornet) until July 26, 1969. Here Neil Armstrong greets his son Mark, on a telephone intercom system, while his wife Jan and another son Eric look on.

After three weeks being confined (at first in the Mobile Quarantine Trailer, and later inside the Lunar Receiving Laboratory in Houston), the Apollo 11 astronauts were given a clean bill of health. Armstrong and his crew exited quarantine on Aug. 10, 1969.

Soon after returning from the moon, Armstrong announced he would not fly in space again. Following a celebratory world tour, Armstrong served at NASA Headquarters as the deputy associate administrator for aeronautics, managing the agency's overall aviation research.

Neil Armstrong resigned from NASA in 1971. He became a professor of aerospace engineering and then later, the chairman of a company that provided flight operations management solutions. He remained involved in NASA activities, including serving as the vice chairman of the presidential commission that investigated the loss of space shuttle Challenger. Here, he and his wife Carol witness a shuttle launch.

The first and last — Neil Armstrong (Left), the first man on the moon, is seen with Eugene Cernan, the last man to stand on the lunar surface. In the years leading up to his death, Armstrong, together with Cernan, had testified before Congress urging for a return to the moon by American astronauts.

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