CBS livestream broadcast of Apollo 11 launch – this day in 1969

I was watching, like millions of others worldwide. Watch again and relive history right now.

Fifty years ago today, Apollo 11 began its voyage into American history. The Saturn V rocket carrying astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Michael Collins launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 9:32 a.m. on July 16, 1969 — and just four days later, man first set foot on the moon. The moon mission was a milestone in human history. But it was also a groundbreaking moment in broadcast television, as CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite brought the frontier of space to living rooms across America.

Press the play button to connect to the livestream:

The event is being livestreamed in real time. The launch won’t occur until 9:32 am ET today
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49 thoughts on “CBS livestream broadcast of Apollo 11 launch – this day in 1969

    • I found this interesting by the guys/gals over at The Daily Wire too. They give more context, pictures of the projection screens in Central Park (NYC) where projection screens had been set up, etc.

      “Apollo 11: What We Saw | Part 1 – We Choose to Go to the Moon”

    • Same here. I was 15. In August of that year, my grandmother took my sister, my older cousin and me to Europe for a 30 country in 30 days tour. We were treated like gods everywhere we went (including France).

      If you can, see the CNN documentary Apollo 11, which is playing at Air & Space Smithsonian. It’s the best documentary I’ve ever seen, and one of the best films to boot.

  1. While I certainly watched TV coverage in my youth, I recall the movie: “For All Mankind” from 1989 – it was the footage showing what those astronauts witnessed with no commentary that brought the experience to life for me.

    “This movie documents the Apollo missions perhaps the most definitively of any movie under two hours. Al Reinert watched all the footage shot during the missions–over 6,000,000 feet of it, and picked out the best. Instead of being a newsy, fact-filled documentary, Reinart focuses on the human aspects of the space flights. The only voices heard in the film are the voices of the astronauts and mission control. Reinart uses the astronaunts’ own words from interviews and mission footage. The score by Brian Eno underscores the strangeness, wonder, and beauty of the astronauts’ experiences which they were privileged to have for a first time “for all mankind.”

  2. July 16th is also the 74 aniversary of the Trinty test of the plutonium bomb south east of Socorro New Mexico in 1945.

  3. I was 11 years old, it was a Saturday morning. My parents had allowed us boys to stay up until gone 11pm to watch this momentous event unfold. In the end, those silly lazy (SARC bigtime) chaps in Apollo 11 were taking far too long so my parents sent us to bed. I was awoken very early the next morning by my big brother with the words, “Alan, they’ve landed!” I lept out of bed, grabbed my dressing gown & ran downstairs with a slipper in each hand,& became rivetted to the black & white tv. It truly was awe inspiring, what a fantastic achievement by mankind, (& the West)! Upon reflection, Human beings, with all their faults, haven’t done too badly despite what some might claim! Well done America! I do hope those few wierd people with small appendages can keep their mouths shut while we sane people celebrate this great day! AtB (PS, lets go back very soon!)

    • I was 13 years old in the summer of ‘69 … and certainly watched the moon landing live in the early afternoon (as I recall) and although it was the pinnacle of mankind’s achievement … it couldn’t hold a candle to that summer’s discovery of my own manhood … with Linda. I was over the moon and saw stars that vacation on the Russian River. One small step … one giant leap.

        • Ahhhh the summer of ‘69. We traveled from the Bay Area to the Russian River riding in a caravan (as you Brits would say) pulled behind her mothers car. An illegal maneuver … which provided ample ‘alone time’. I know … TMI … but the summer of ‘69 was arguably the best of my life. The era of ‘Free Love’ ‘Haight Asbury’ and the single greatest year of Rock Music … EVER! Oh yeah … and a bunch of really smart people landed us on the moon and returned to talk about it! What a year!

  4. Yup! Lived and worked on it back in the day. I was surprised to find several who still believe it was all a fake (Dr Spencer’s blog). I paraphrase a response after I challenged their claim: I don’t know how they did it, but I’m sure you and the many others were not in on it…

    Rightttt. No answers how they faked Apollo 1 and Apollo 13 accidents. Worse, these naysayers seem to be totally ignorant of any of the technologies, new and old, used in the processes.

    • I saw what happened at Roy’s blog (mostly by just some twit who seems to have the same initials as me). That’s why I laid down my stiff ground rules in my recent WUWT post. Seems to have worked pretty well.

    • I recall seeing a programme some years back now in which they seemed to fess-up the first few moments of footage, or at least some part of it, was footage from studio/warehous simulation due tothe specialist camera being accidentally pointed at the Sun or something like that! No idea of the truth on that score, anybody have a clue as to whether that was complete bovine content?

      • “or at least some part of it, was footage from studio/warehous simulation due to the specialist camera being accidentally pointed at the Sun or something like that!”

        If I remember correctly, that happened on Apollo 12 when Alan Bean accidentally pointed their TV camera at the sun which broke the camera. Some of The TV networks then resorted to “simulations” (I believe one used Jim Hensen puppets) to illustrate what was happening on the moon.

  5. I was an 11 year old watching this on our family’s RCA color console TV in suburban Kansas City. It was exciting, but I had watched most of the earlier Apollo launches (as well as some of the Gemini launches) so it wasn’t that big a deal.

    What WAS a big deal was watching, 5 days later, the broadcast of the Lunar Modules perilous decent to the moon’s surface and then, Neil Armstrong stepping down from the LEM and, in my opinion, accomplishing the most profound moment in human history. And I got to share it with him and with the millions of other humans watching from all around our little blue planet.

    If you told that 11 year old kid that fifty years later we hadn’t even sent a human to Mars he would have been deeply skeptical and very disappointed.

    • Speaking of 11YOs. This past week end I showed my grandson the Apollo 11 medallion I, and many others, got after the mission. His response? MEH. I guess this younger generation living with the space station and satellites, GPS and weather etc. as a normal background, it isn’t exciting. 😉

      Something different is unique to each generation, eh?

    • That’s because someone at NASA decided there was a lot more money in scaring people than in giving them hope.

      I was 5 when I watched this. I thought it was “neat” but didn’t fully comprehend it at the time.

  6. I was age 18 at the time. I had read plenty of science fiction, and in NONE of the stories did the first astronauts to land on the moon do it on live TV. I remember my younger brothers went outside to look at the moon during the event.

    I noticed that Armstrong and Aldrin started out moving VERY slowly. As they became accustomed to the lunar gravity, they began bouncing around like bunny rabbits.

    In my mind, the actual landing was rather anti-climactic. The high point for ME was during the Christmas Holiday in 1968, when Borman, Lovell, and Anders first ORBITED the moon, an object different than Earth.

    • The high point for ME was during the Christmas Holiday in 1968, when Borman, Lovell, and Anders first ORBITED the moon, an object different than Earth.

      Yes. And especially as it was only at the last moment that NASA decided that what had been planned as an Earth orbit test could be done as a Lunar orbit test. So suddenly we were watching color TV images of the Earth as seen from Lunar orbit.

    • One of the things that impressed me about Apollo 8 was that they were incommunicado with Houston (and everyone else in the world) when they fired the rocket to leave lunar orbit. I was plenty confident it would work, but I liked how Houston had calculated the times of recovery of radio contact for both successful firing and a failed firing.

      The earlier time meant that they had accelerated past lunar escape velocity and should make it back to Earth.

      • Ric I was working the receiving end of those radio and data messages. Few really understand and can relate to just how untried much of the technology and processes were back then. Much of the math was simple spherical trig and geometry, but finding that little vehicle in that vast space hadn’t been done often and seldom at those distances.

        Great times and memories.

        • I was 19 at the time and had grown up among “right stuff” families , including Armstrong’s in his X-15 days. I took for granted the technology then.

          As an old man now I am so much in awe of what was accomplished. I can barely wrap my head around basic principles of orbital mechanics. So much technology, so many pieces all coming together. The project management of it all is a wonder of the world.

    • For those listening, who can possibly forget the Christmas 1968 broadcast:

      William Anders

      We are now approaching lunar sunrise, and for all the people back on Earth, the crew of Apollo 8 has a message that we would like to send to you.
      In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
      And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
      And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
      And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

      James Lovell
      And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
      And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
      And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
      And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

      Frank Borman
      And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
      And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called the Seas: and God saw that it was good.
      And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas – and God bless all of you, all of you on the good Earth.

  7. I remember being stretched out on the living room floor watching it all. As a kid I started following the space program when I was about 7 years old when Glenn made his orbits. I hated it when I had to miss a launch due to school of some other activity. Hard to believe it’s been 50 years!
    When I was a 15 y/o kid and taking flying lessons I got to meet Neil Armstrong about a year after Apollo 11. Neil’s brother, Dean Armstrong, was a neighbor that worked for GM and Neal came to visit.
    A few years before that I also got to meet Paul Tibbets when he visited his niece and her husband, who worked for Tibbets Mechanical and lived across the street from us. (Tibbets was the aircraft commander of the B-29 Enola Gay, named after his mother, that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima).
    Armstrong hated it! The opposite of Buzz Aldrin, he had always shied away from publicity and interviews. He hated the notoriety of being the first man on the moon because it robbed him of his true love of flying the machines and hands problem solving in the realm of aeronautical Engineering. Never again would he be allowed to fly as a test pilot, let alone strap a rocket on his butt and take it for a ride. He became an Icon too valuable a PR asset in the leaner days after the Apollo missions to risk and so was relegated to a position at NASA with no test flying and for years after he returned from the moon spent much of his time fulfilling speaking requests for the PR department.

    • Hi Bill,

      It is good that even though we share very different views on the degree and implications of anthropogenic climate change, that we share a sense of wonder and accomplishment over the Apollo missions.

      Maybe there’s hope for you yet. 😉

  8. I was soon to be a teenager back in 1969, and I vividly remember watching every detail on our old black and white 25″ RCA TV that week. It was the best of times with that baby boomer bulge and probably one of the peaks of the best humanity had to offer and probably always will be. I still remember riding my bike at night that week while the moon was going from 1st quarter towards a full moon, and knowing there was a rocket up there going to the moon and that had finally landed and there were 3 men there, two of whom were on the moon at that very time I was looking up. I also remember wondering where we would be in 50 years and would our lot on the good Earth be any better by then. It is, and it isn’t. But is most certainly better for the efforts that humanity have made for wanting to go to outer space and is the best hope for humanity going forward.

  9. I remember in first grade the first manned gemini flight (gemini 3) shown on the classroom TV.

    Having grown up on the Jetsons, I thought we had already gone to Mars.

  10. Remember when the image on the screen was upside down Neil Armstrong was coming out of the LEM?

  11. Ditto watched all the space flights no matter what the time. Collected Mercury 7 sticker memorabilia. So thought I was going to be an astronaut that I would type my letters asking NASA for info- typed them just in case it made a difference to my application file. 🙂 Inspired enough to get a pilot’s licence. Cronkite was everything, so appreciate the CBS broadcast above. Actually met Gordo Cooper when he signed his book for me at Seattle’s Museum of Flight at what must have been one of his last public appearances.

  12. My daughters can tease me about living in the olden days before home computers and cell phones but when did their generation land on the moon? A thousand years from now, that is all that will be remembered about us.

    • And they did it in a lunar module with a computing power inferior to that found in a modern washing machine.

      • Rah, my wife reminded me that she bought me a new calculator a little later and it had FLOATING POINT arithmetic. The tracking computers, Univac 1230 and 1218, we were using didn’t.

        • https://www.wsj.com/articles/lessons-from-a-trip-to-the-moon-11563137910

          Interesting Andy Kessler article, “Lessons From a Trip to the Moon”, which narrates the “1202” malfunction aboard Apollo 11 as they were attempting the moon landing. It’s a good story, and Kessler goes on to tic off some of the accomplishments in “hard sciences” which followed and which may yet follow. If the link above doesn’t work, please look for the article under its title in Google.

          I watched it happening too, as a 16-year old. It’s more impressive now than it was then, in my opinion, thanks to the innovations in media coverage which allow the many facets of each Apollo voyage, including the fatal and near-fatal glitches and multiple perspectives of people who were there. The 3-part American Experience series “Chasing the Moon” is doing a good job of weaving all the parts together.

          Interesting trivia: “All six lunar landings happened during Richard Nixon’s first term.” (Kessler article)

          • We did mighty things with just slide rules and simple (for today) computers.
            Mighty things of this country are scorned and looked down on by the elites..
            Sorry Mr.Obama, this wasn’t and should never be about “Muslim Outreach. ”
            It is: “Per Ardua ad Astra.”-with struggle, to the Stars..
            Or to quote Alan Shepard: “Why don’t you fellwos solve your little problems
            -and light this candle!”
            Yep, light the candle…

  13. You see this, and then you can only be sad about what NASA has become. It is a shame they don’t launch people into space anymore; they have to depend on the Russians, whom they were trying to beat in the space race, to do that. Also, apparently we don’t have enough money because the government has to spend it on subsidies for unreliable “renewable” energy, to pay for people who pay no taxes nor try to speak English nor try to assimilate, to pay for more and more bureaucracies that we never needed, and oh such much more nonsense.

    What is even sadder is I know those glory days at NASA will never return. The repubs are too spineless, save one. And they and the media and the dems are working quadruple overtime to torpedo the one who is not spineless. A politician’s job is to get elected or re-elected; our needs and wants aren’t even on their agenda. And what better way to get elected than to make people angry and distracted? By blaming DJT for everything, nobody will ask the inconvenient questions of “Why is my life not getting better under your ‘rule’? What have you actually done to benefit me, the person you are supposed represent?” Politics has ruined NASA, and it is ruining the world.

  14. https://arstechnica.com/science/2019/07/american-kids-would-much-rather-be-youtubers-than-astronauts/

    On the eve of the Apollo 11 anniversary, LEGO asked The Harris Poll to survey a total of 3,000 children in the United States, China, and the United Kingdom about their attitudes toward and knowledge of space. The results reveal that, at least for Western countries, kids today are more interested in YouTube than spaceflight.

    What do you want to be when you grow up? Pick up to three.

    CHINA                  USA                    UK
    56% Astronaut          30% Vlogger/YouTuber   29% Vlogger/YouTuber
    52% Teacher            25% Teacher            26% Teacher
    47% Musician           21% Athelete           23% Athelete
    37% Athlete            18% Musician           19% Musician
    18% Vlogger/YouTuber   11% Astronaut          11% Astronaut

    (triple facepalm)

  15. I was 10 they sent us home to watch it
    I turned tv on watched a bit was bored n went yabbying;-)
    I loved sci fi books captain we johns and similar but this?.. it didnt get me interested at all.
    always puzzles me they did space station but for little enegry more a decent moon station could have been built many times over and fuel to return processed ON the moon for that and onwards to mars etc
    they didnt know about the van allen belts had no shielding and stuff worked? and they didnt seem to have exposure /health issues?
    ever the skeptic I wont truly believe until someone RElands and shows the area, pref from another nation.

    • re: “ever the skeptic I wont truly believe until someone RElands and shows the area, pref from another nation.”

      Pics – there are hi-res pics now of their tracks on the moon … have you seen them? I was at a website viewing them not a couple days ago … and this is aside from a few technically inclined folks who listened into the comms from the Command Module as well as the actual ‘men on the moon’ with their backpack VHF (297 MHz) radios …

      “Lunar Eavesdropping: Two Men, a Radio, and Apollo 11”
      https://www.vofoundation.org/blog/lunar-eavesdropping-two-men-a-radio-and-apollo-11-part-ii/

      Excerpt: a unique accomplishment that is part of the Apollo 11 story but that is widely unknown: the work of Larry Baysinger, a man from my home town of Louisville, Kentucky, who independently detected signals from the Apollo 11 astronauts as they walked on the lunar surface. Last week’s post introduced Baysinger and Glenn Rutherford, the reporter (and future editor of the Archdiocese of Louisville’s newspaper) who recorded the project for posterity—both of whom I was fortunate enough to meet, four decades later.

      And, four decades later, Baysinger still had the reel-to-reel tape recordings that he had made. He transferred the salvageable sections of the tape to digital format. You can listen to his recording and compare it to NASA’s own recording here:

    • This webpage documents the efforts by a group to monitor the S-band transmissions of Apollo-17 via a 9-meter dish:

      http://www.svengrahn.pp.se/trackind/Apollo17/APOLLO17.htm

      Excerpt:

      Microwave signals from the Moon with a 9 meter parabolic dish

      After a few days’ rest we started preparations for microwave monitoring of Apollo communications. My radio astronomy friends had mounted a 9 meter dish on its mount on 28 November 1972 – while I looked on. The antenna was placed at the old radio observatory of the University of Florida near a little lake, Bivens Arm, outside Gainesville. The servo-mount was a piece of space history in its own right. It was used at Cape Canaveral in the beginning of the sixties to steer a command antenna for the first communications satellite Telstar!

      The attempts to tune Apollo 17 was the first test of the 9 meter dish after its installation at Bivens Arm. The aluminum dish is Air Force surplus equipment. In the focus of the dish a feed antenna is placed to “illuminate” the surface of the parabola. The feed was a 30 cm by 10 cm cylinder and was only sensitive to left hand circular polarized radio waves. Its SWR (standing-wave ratio) was 1.2 over a 200 MHz range around 2300 MHz (S-band).

      The signal from the feed was supplied to a tunnel diode pre-amp for S-band. This unit, the most critical item of the whole receiving system, had a 3 dB noise figure and enough gain to overcome the cable loss of the inch-thick coax cable that brought the signal from the dish to the listening post in a shed 25 meters away. In this shed the rest of the equipment was located.

  16. How much things have changed.

    I was working on the island of Borneo – TV – whats that? My wife was in Singapore. At that time, Singapore didn’t have access to satellite feeds. Film was flown out from England a couple of days later.

    Today I can take a movie clip of – well, right now – a thunder storm, attach it to an email and send it to virtually anyone in the world within seconds. We’ve come a long way technically. Socially, there still some work to be done…..

  17. The ultimate ‘talk’ on the Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) including a review of the instruction set/op codes et al and the software routines written for the various mission ‘segments’:

    “34C3 – The Ultimate Apollo Guidance Computer Talk”

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