Today, on 24 July at 1751 BST, the Apollo 11 Command Module capsule Columbia splashed down in the Pacific Ocean safely returning to the surface of the Earth its three crew and so completing the first manned Moon landing mission. Columbia landed 44.4nm (24km) from the US Navy ship USS Hornet that had been sent to recover the capsule and its crew.
Approximately 1h after the touchdown, a helicopter brought to the deck of the USS Hornet Apollo 11's crew, mission commander Neil Armstrong, Command Module pilot Michael Collins and Lunar Module pilot Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin.
After being de-contaminated the crew commenced their 21-day quarantine, which is being carried out in the event the crew is returning with deadly organisms.
Apollo 11 departed the Earth on 16 July and landed on the Moon on the 20 July. Shortly thereafter Armstrong became the first person to walk on the moon and Aldrin the second. Armstrong spent 2h 14 min on the surface and Aldrin 1h 33 min.
After remaining on the Moon for 21h and 36min, the crew took off at 1854 BST on 21 July. Landing back on Earth today the total mission duration was 8 days, 3h, 18min, and 35s.
US President Richard Nixon was on board the USS Hornet and greeted the crew through a window in their quarantine facility.
“As a result of what you’ve done the world’s never been closer together before,” Nixon remarked. “We can reach for the stars just as you have reached so far for the stars.”
President Nixon talks to the Apollo 11 crew
Original Flight International landing article from July 1969