JULY 1969 A.D.

The original Apollo 11 Moon plaque is attached to the ladder on the descent stage of the lunar module "Eagle". It is made from one-sixteenth inch stainless steel measuring nine inches by seven and five-eighths inches, and was "rolled" to conform to the curvature of the landing gear strut. It is located between the third and fourth rungs of the ladder, and is attached to it by four stainless steel straps. A thinner sheet of stainless steel protected the plaque during flight and was removed once on the lunar surface.

On Sunday, July 20, 1969 at 4:18 PM Eastern Standard Time, the "Eagle" landed in a region of the Earth's Moon called the Mare Tranquilitatis, also known as the Sea of Tranquility. "Tranquility Base" is located approximately twelve miles south-southwest of the crater Sabine D in the southwestern region of the Sea of Tranquility at 0 degrees 41 minutes 15 seconds North latitude, by 23 degrees 26 minutes East longitude.

The plaque is the first of seven that were flown on all the lunar landing missions. This plaque depicts the two hemispheres of the Earth and bears a special proclamation that was read by astronaut Neil Armstrong and beamed back to Earth for the benefit of a world television audience.

Inscribed at the bottom of the plaque are the signatures of astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr. as well as the signature of then-President of the United States, Richard Nixon.

A total of eight plaques of this type were flown on the seven manned lunar landing attempts. Six of them remain on the moon to this day.

The discrepancy between the number of plaques, the number of flights, and the number remaining on the moon is caused by Apollo 13. Because of the last minute swap of Jack Swigert for Ken Mattingly, the plaque mounted on the Lunar Module now had the incorrect crew names and signatures. Because the LEM was already stowed inside the Saturn V booster, the plaque attached to to it's landing leg could not be changed. A new plaque was manufactured and stowed inside the Command Module. Once on the lunar surface the crew was supposed to attach the new plaque over the top of the incorrect one.

Because of the explosion in the Service Module, the planned lunar landing was aborted. The original plaque, still attached to the Lunar Module, was destroyed when then the LEM was jettisoned and allowed to re-enter the Earth's atmosphere. The replacement plaque was retained by mission commander Jim Lovell as a souvenir of the mission.

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