What you can’t see in Buzz Aldrin flag photo
15 August 2022
USA TODAY first published this article in July 2019, the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission; July 20, 2020, will mark the 51st anniversary of the moon landing. You all know this photo. Buzz Aldrin was standing on the moon’s surface and saluting the American flag. Let’s zoom in. What is really in the picture? Why is the flag-waving? Where are the stars? And how did the shadow form?
In credit of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, USA TODAY spoke with NASA experts, looked through NASA’s archives, and explained the most remarkable details of this famous photo. Spoiler alert: Not everything went as planned by the space agency.
The flag, the subject of so many conspiracy theories, probably fell as the cosmonauts departed, and the Soviet cosmonauts’ medals lie on the surface.
What you witness in the photo is the story behind the story.
On July 20, 1969, at approximately 11:40 p.m. EDT, the scene depicted in one of the most iconic photographs unfolded.
Neil Armstrong and Aldrin planted the American flag more than 110 hours after the historic lunar landing mission. The event was broadcast via video to millions of people on Earth.
Interactive: a new challenge to the moon
Aldrin footed to the side to increase his hand in salute. Armstrong stepped back to capture the moment.
This is an iconic image,” said Jennifer Rosnazzar, a historian at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. ‘This has become part of American culture… This picture is in textbooks.
The photograph was carried during the Apollo 11 mission, the first crewed lunar landing. Aldrin and Armstrong landed in a sea of lunar silence while command ship pilot Michael Collins remained in lunar orbit.
The mission took place amidst a fierce space race with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The Soviet Union was rapidly advancing technological achievements in spaceflight, which was a national security concern during a nuclear arms race.
Space Race: The Apollo 11 moon port was celebrated as a pioneering event, but it was really about winning the space race
Although the Soviet Union sent the first human astronauts, the United States landed two men on the moon and led the space race.