Astronaut looks back on Apollo 11

On July 16, 1969, Collins, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong set off to make U.S. history. Experts discuss the technology needed for the mission and why the landing was so important.
6:03 | 07/19/19

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Transcript for Astronaut looks back on Apollo 11
at that land mark mission. Reporter: It was a moment that mesmerized the entire 50 years ago, millions crowded around televisions, any television they could find, collectively holding their would man walk on the moon? The eagle has landed. Reporter: Black and white images, revealing what one of the astronauts called magnificent desolation. That's one small step for man. Reporter: That single step of victory for the U.S. One giant leap for man kind. Reporter: The mission was not so much about exploration as it was about a space race against the soviets. Now it is time to take longer strides. Time for this nation to take a clearly leading role in faith achievement. Reporter: It was an ambitious goal to put a man on the moon in fewer than eight years. Astronauts were put through intense training. The training has been focussed on how to do the job and how to do it best. Reporter: The three Apollo 11 crew members achieved celebrity status. Liftoff. Reporter: For Neil Armstrong, buzzal drink and Michael Collins, the journey started on the biggest rocket ever made. Lifting up, we have power clear. We have power clear. Reporter: Michael Collins was the junior member of the screw, the command module pilot. You were knocked back and forth with spastic little motions. That went on four five, six seconds, and then you were clear, and we all went whoo, that's over. Reporter: Aldrin in awe of his view from the capsule. The next day they were orbiting the moon. Armstrong and aldrin loaded onto the lunar module, beginning the attempt to be the first humans to land on the moon. Houston, you're looking good for separating. Reporter: It did not go smoothly. 12:02. 1202 alarm. Reporter: First alarm showing that the computer was overloading. Houston, you're a go for landing, over? Reporter: Then unexpected Boulders in the landing field. Armstrong has to take over control manually. 30 seconds. 30 feet down, two and a half. Picking up some dust. Two and a half down. Houston, the eagle has landed. Reporter: It was an epic moment, borne out of cold war rivalry. They said I wanted to win this space race. Reporter: Gene krantz is back in a fully-restored mission control Hugh son. You can remember the calls that cap con made. Reporter: It was krantz who made the call to land and then whether to stay. All flight controllers. Go. Go. Go for landing. Reporter: Neil Armstrong given the okay to make his way onto the moon's surface. I'm going to step off the land now. That's one small step for man. One giant leap for man kind. Reporter: Armstrong and a bit later aldrin moved around the moon fathering gathering samples. Try on a new play tex at your favorite store. Reporter: The consumer products company playtex built the suits. They made girdles and gloves. Reporter: Expandible fabrics. The basic fabric of a spacesuit was there in playtex. They had the technology. Reporter: Ioc Dover, a division of playtex won the contract with the help of this film showing what their suit could do, 21 layers of material, painstakingly sewn together. The moonwalk was their first full system check. Beautiful, beautiful. There's a stark beauty all its open, much like the high desert of the United States. It's different, but it's very pretty out here. Reporter: So while million millions watched in awe. Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the moon. Reporter: And sonny ream, worried something might fail. When buzz aldrin is talking about kangaroo hops, what are you thinking? We're successful. We can declare a success. I don't care how many craters buzz wants to look at, get him back inside. Reporter: With their samples, the astronauts return to the lamb and then rely on one ascent rocket engine to return back to lunar orbit. Okay, doc, open the hatch, did you get a sense of what the moon smelled like? No smell. But I thought god they're cruddy. From the waist down they were moon dust. Reporter: They returned heroes. The president greeting them before a worldwide tour. The world shared in the glory. It really demonstrated the power of free and open society. Reporter: The country learned what is possible with rmination and resources. I'm David Kerley for "Nightline," in Washington. And national geographic's Apollo missions to the moon is available now on demand and on nat geotv.com. Up next, the cat is out of

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

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