Apollo 11 Moon landing

Pioneering astronauts

A job for brave heroes:
The three people who went to the Moon on Apollo 11

Three astronauts made up the crew of the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon: Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin Jr.

Neil Armstrong

Primary role Ensured overall Apollo 11 mission success, the safety of the crew, and command of the spacecraft during launch, landing on the lunar surface, and the ascent back to lunar orbit

Lunar Module Pilot Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin Jr.

Primary role Monitored the lunar module systems during the lunar landing, operated the guidance computer, and supported the mission commander as he piloted the spacecraft

Module Pilot
Michael Collins

Primary role Monitored the command and service module systems, navigated the spacecraft, docked the lunar module and command module, and carried out tasks in lunar orbit while crewmates were on the surface of the Moon

The mission included an entire backup crew, ready to step in if needed: Commander James A. Lovell, Command Module Pilot William A. Anders, and Lunar Module Pilot Fred Haise

Four astronauts took shifts as the capsule communicator, or CapCom. The only person in Mission Control who spoke directly to the crew, the CapCom was both a familiar voice and an experienced astronaut.

Charles Duke

During the Apollo 11 lunar landing

CapCom Bruce McCandless

While Armstrong and Aldrin walked on the Moon and Collins was in lunar orbit

Ron Evans

For the launch of the lunar module back into orbit

Owen Garriott

During critical docking maneuvers

All of these astronauts had been through difficult and intense training, often over many years, to prepare for this mission

NASA began recruiting astronauts in 1959. The selection process wasn’t easy. Neither Michael Collins nor Buzz Aldrin was accepted on his first application.

NASA’s first astronauts had to be:

  • A graduate of test pilot school
  • Less than 40 years old
  • Less than 5 feet 11 inches (1.80 m) tall
  • In excellent physical condition
  • A recipient of a bachelor’s degree or equivalent in engineering
  • Credited with at least 1,500 hours of flying time