21 quotes from the Apollo 11 astronauts on everything from walking on the moon to the future of spaceflight

neil armstrong moonIn this July 16, 1969 file photo, Neil Armstrong, waving in front, heads for the van that will take the crew to the rocket for launch to the moon at Kennedy Space Center in Merritt Island, Fla.AP

  • 50 years ago, the Apollo 11 astronauts took off for the moon.
  • Aside from Neil Armstrong's unforgettable words upon walking the lunar surface, the three astronauts had much more to say about their experiences.
  • Here are their most unforgettable quotes on everything from their historic mission to the future of space travel.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Half a century ago, on July 16, 1969, the Apollo 11 astronauts took off for the moon.

Neil Armstrong, Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, and Michael Collins arrived four days later to a place no human being had ever been before.

Collins orbited the moon while Armstrong and Aldrin landed on its surface. It took them hours to put on their space suits and prep for touchdown. After descending the ladder onto the lunar surface, Armstrong uttered his historic words: "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." (Armstrong would later claim, "'That's one small step for 'a' man.' It's just that people just didn't hear it.")

The 600 million people watching the moon landing on television would remember that line. But the three astronauts had much more to say about their experience flying to the moon and back.

Here are the astronauts' most memorable words.

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Neil Armstrong on vision

Neil Armstrong on vision

"There are great ideas undiscovered, breakthroughs available to those who can remove one of truth's protective layers. There are places to go beyond belief."

Source: United Press International

Buzz Aldrin on dreams

Buzz Aldrin on dreams

"One truth I have discovered for sure: When you believe that all things are possible and you are willing to work hard to accomplish your goals, you can achieve the next 'impossible' dream. No dream is too high!"

Source: "No Dream is Too High: Life Lessons From a Man Who Walked on the Moon"

Buzz Aldrin on keeping an open mind

Buzz Aldrin on keeping an open mind

"Your mind is like a parachute: If it isn't open, it doesn't work."

Source: "No Dream is Too High: Life Lessons From a Man Who Walked on the Moon"

Neil Armstrong on challenges (answered during Apollo 11's pre-flight news conference)

Neil Armstrong on challenges (answered during Apollo 11's pre-flight news conference)

"I think we're going to the moon because it's in the nature of the human being to face challenges. It's by the nature of his deep inner soul … we're required to do these things just as salmon swim upstream."

Source: Internet Archive

Michael Collins on liftoff

Michael Collins on liftoff

"We are off! And do we know it, not just because the world is yelling 'Liftoff' in our ears, but because the seats of our pants tell us so! Trust your instruments, not your body, the modern pilot is always told, but this beast is best felt. Shake, rattle and roll!"

Source: "Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut's Journeys"

Buzz Aldrin on weightlessness

Buzz Aldrin on weightlessness

"There's a tremendously satisfying freedom associated with weightlessness. It's challenging in the absence of traction or leverage, and it requires thoughtful readjustment. I found the experience of weightlessness to be one of the most fun and enjoyable, challenging and rewarding, experiences of spaceflight. Returning to Earth brings with it a great sense of heaviness, and a need for careful movement. In some ways it's not too different from returning from a rocking ocean ship."

Source: Scholastic

Neil Armstrong after landing on the moon

Neil Armstrong after landing on the moon

"Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed."

Source: NASA

Neil Armstrong's first words on the moon

Neil Armstrong's first words on the moon

"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

Source: NASA

Neil Armstrong on his famous quote

Neil Armstrong on his famous quote

"I thought, well, when I step off it's just going to be a little step — a step from there down to there — but then I thought about all those 400,000 people who had given me the opportunity to make that step and thought it's going to be a big something for all those folks and, indeed for a lot of others that weren't even involved in the project, so it was kind of a simple correlation."

Source: CBS News

Neil Armstrong on his moonwalk

Neil Armstrong on his moonwalk

"Pilots take no special joy in walking: pilots like flying. Pilots generally take pride in a good landing, not in getting out of the vehicle."

Source: "In the Shadow of the Moon"

Buzz Aldrin on the lunar surface

Buzz Aldrin on the lunar surface

"Magnificent desolation."

Source: "Magnificent Desolation: The Long Journey Home from the Moon"

Neil Armstrong on the lunar surface

Neil Armstrong on the lunar surface

"It's an interesting place to be. I recommend it."

Source: CBS News

Michael Collins on looking down at Earth

Michael Collins on looking down at Earth

"I really believe that if the political leaders of the world could see their planet from a distance of, let's say 100,000 miles, their outlook would be fundamentally changed. The all-important border would be invisible, that noisy argument suddenly silenced."

Source: Michael Collins on Twitter

Michael Collins on orbiting the moon alone

Michael Collins on orbiting the moon alone

"I am alone now, truly alone, and absolutely isolated from any known life. I am it. If a count were taken, the score would be three billion plus two over on the other side of the moon, and one plus God knows what on this side."

Source: "Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut's Journeys"

Buzz Aldrin on looking back at Earth

Buzz Aldrin on looking back at Earth

"From the distance of the moon, Earth was four times the size of a full moon seen from Earth. It was a brilliant jewel in the black velvet sky. Yet it was still at a great distance, considering the challenges of the voyage home."

Source: Scholastic

Buzz Aldrin on being the second man on the moon

Buzz Aldrin on being the second man on the moon

"As the senior crew member, it was appropriate for [Armstrong] to be the first. But after years and years of being asked to speak to a group of people and then be introduced as the second man on the moon, it does get a little frustrating. Is it really necessary to point out to the crowd that somebody else was first when we all went through the same training, we all landed at the same time and all contributed? But for the rest of my life I'll always be identified as the second man to walk on the moon. [Laughs.]"

Source: National Geographic

Buzz Aldrin on returning to space

Buzz Aldrin on returning to space

"Everyone who's been in space would, I'm sure, welcome the opportunity for a return to the exhilarating experiences there. For me, a flight in a shuttle, though most satisfying, would be anticlimactic after my flight to the moon."

Source: Scholastic

Neil Armstrong on being an engineer

Neil Armstrong on being an engineer

"I am, and ever will be, a white-socks, pocket-protector, nerdy engineer — born under the second law of thermodynamics, steeped in the steam tables, in love with free-body diagrams, transformed by Laplace, and propelled by compressible flow."

Source: National Academy of Engineering

Michael Collins on Mars

Michael Collins on Mars

"I see more moon missions as delaying Mars, which is a much more interesting place to go."

Source: United Press International

Neil Armstrong on lunar bases

Neil Armstrong on lunar bases

"Oh, I am quite certain that we will have such bases in our lifetime, somewhat like the Antarctic stations and similar scientific outposts — continually manned. Although, certainly there is the problem of the environment, the vacuum, the high and low temperatures of day and night. Still, in all, in many ways, it's more hospitable than Antarctica might be."

Source: BBC interview via Business Insider

Buzz Aldrin on exploration

Buzz Aldrin on exploration

"The urge to explore has propelled evolution since the first water creatures reconnoitered the land. Like all living systems, cultures cannot remain static; they evolve or decline. They explore or expire."

Source: Albuquerque Tribune

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