'1969': NASA engineers recall the historic Apollo 11 moon landing

It was July 20, 1969, in the midst of the Cold War, when American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin of the historic Apollo 11 mission were the first two people to walk on the moon.
7:14 | 04/23/19

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Transcript for '1969': NASA engineers recall the historic Apollo 11 moon landing
Five, four, three -- It wasn't science fiction. All engine running. America accomplished the impossible. Apollo 11 was about arriving at a strange place out in space. It was kind of a strange time. The nasa program seemed to be pulling the country together. They had volunteered for what could be a death mission. All the astronauts knew it. Delta landing. Delta landing. It was incredibly scary, incredibly dangerous. I heard Neil as he stepped on the surface. He said "That was one small step for man." One giant leap for mankind. I Richard Milhous Nixon do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States. The inauguration of Richard Nixon in 1969 solidified the fact that there was a deep sea change in American politics. We had been living through a lot of acrimony the previous year Bobby Kennedy killed and martin Luther king. Mayhem in Chicago. And we're hungering for an American moon shot that pulls us all together. As we explore the reaches of space, let us order the new worlds together. Neil, buzz and I were informed we would be attempting the first lunar landing. A great honor to be selected for any mission in the Apollo program. This one of course in particular. The hype was mostly around the astronauts at the time. They were everywhere. We thought of astronauts as typically male, typically white men. So you'll notice that there are just simply not a lot of women in the room. This is James Adams, brought hand wipes for dusting. Women were expected to stay home, take care of the kids, clean the house. I'm not saying I did that. My name is Margaret Hamilton. And in 1969 I was building on-board flight software for Apollo missions. Margaret Hamilton literally wrote the code that made the lunar landing possible. And we didn't really know about these women at the time. At first I was the only woman that was hired to do flight software. This guy that I worked with when I first got there said how can you leave your daughter at home? And I just said to him you do what's right for you and I'll do what's right for me. The software had to be perfect. A person's life was at stake, meaning the astronauts. It is July 16th, 1969. The drama of watching the Apollo 11 in the summer of '69 is can they do it? Ignition sequence start. Four, three, two, one, zero. All engine running. ��� Two, one ��� ��� lift-off ��� Lift-off. We have a lift-off. 32 minutes past the hour. Lift-off on Apollo 11. Do solemnly swear. ��� This is ground control to major Tom ��� You watch this huge vehicle just lift off effortlessly from the launchpad. The vibration that you felt from three miles away, it was -- it's tremendous. There's all kinds of little sideway jigs and jags. Back and forth spastic little motions. It's an 8 1/2-day event. People wanted to know every aspect of the mission. Zwlt astronauts sent back a 35-minute color television show of the sights from 150 miles away. The astronauts were the ones on the news. And they were all white. You know, if they went up, then they became heroes. But nobody seemed to know that this was not just white folks doing the work either. My name is Christine Darden. And in 1969 I was in the computer section in the re-entry physics branch of the high-speed aerodynamics division. That was what they called the The work was to take a Monroe or Frieden calculator and do the big equations, which could be a page long. I'm joylette hylick. I'm the daughter of Katherine Johnson. She's the real deal. My name is Katherine Johnson. Mama got there in '53. The engineers came and asked for specific skills. The supervisor said oh, well, that's Katherine. Katherine was a leader in her area. She paved the way. She made enormous contributions, did calculations on the trajectory for the Apollo program. What happened if somebody questioned your work? Tough. Nobody seemed to know there were women at nasa. The difficulties that they went through, socially and the fact that nasa had them operating I think was a breakthrough back in those days. Everybody was looking at the television. Mama said ooh, I hope he does what we told him to do. Because if they did what they told him to do it would be successful. Tension started filling up the room. 2 1/2. Picking up some dust. Picking up some dust. We're there. We've got an engine blowing dust off the moon. Houston, tranquility base here. The eagle has landed. My gosh, this is really happening. 500 million people watching Apollo 11. I'm going to step off the lam now. It's one small step for man. One giant leap for mankind. It was the first time man walked on the moon and the first time software ran on the moon. Here you go. Beautiful view. And you can catch the new six-part docuseries "1969" premiering tomorrow night at 10:00, 9:00 central right here on ABC.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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