On Sunday, July 20, 1969, the first thing ever written by a human while on a celestial body that wasn't our own planet Earth was jotted onto a page. That page was within a book known as "The Timeline Book," a book which had, only moments before, sat between two men, who were soon to become household names the world over.
One of those men was Neil Armstrong, who had just uttered the immortal words "Houston, Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed." The other, and the author of the note, was Buzz Aldrin. The note was brief and far from poetic or quotable. Aldrin had simply jotted some coordinates, but those coordinates were, and are, immensely historic, marking the spot on the Moon, within the Sea of Tranquility, where Apollo 11's lunar module, Eagle, had landed just moments before.
Shortly after, Commander Armstrong clambered down the ladder in his unwieldy space suit, and as he stepped onto the Moon's surface, declared to hundreds of millions of people watching and listening back on Earth: "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind."
Everything about this moment was epic, heroic and tinged with drama. Nobody had landed on the Moon before, nobody really knew what to expect – or even if it was going to happen, but it did. In a life-imitates-art scene straight out of the Hollywood action-thriller playbook, after hurtling through space at the tip of a Saturn V rocket (with nearly as much chemical energy as small atomic bomb) and dealing with the dangers of lunar orbit and module separation, Aldrin had landed the Lunar Module, with just 25 seconds of fuel remaining. The entire voyage was like a matryoshka doll of layered, deadly risks. But they made it. Others, like the crew of Apollo 1 before them, weren't so lucky.
This moment – which had its genesis eight years before when President Kennedy declared "I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth" – effectively ended the Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union (USSR).
The Timeline Book charts every step of Eagle's departure from the Apollo 11 command module Columbia, through to landing on the Moon, launching from the Moon's surface and finally reconnecting safely, with Columbia for the journey home to Earth.
Almost 50 years to the day after that historic landing, the Apollo 11 Lunar Module Timeline Book will be offered up for auction at Christie's New York on July 18 this year.
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