The International Impact of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing

Dr. Tanya Harrison
4 min readJul 1, 2021

The Space Race might have been America versus the Soviets, but how was the race viewed by the rest of the world?

On July 20, 1969, American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to set foot on a celestial body beyond Earth while Command Module Pilot Michael Collins kept dutiful watch from orbit overhead. Set against the backdrop of the Cold War and a “space race” between the United States and the Soviet Union, this amazing achievement could have easily been touted as a win for the U.S., laden with patriotic messages of America being the first to land people on the Moon.

Instead, alongside the two American astronauts, Apollo 11’s Eagle lander brought messages and mementos of world peace to the lunar surface, including a stainless steel plaque:

Apollo 11 plaque reading: “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon July 1969, A. D. We came in peace for all mankind.”
Apollo 11 plaque, photographed on the surface of the Moon, reading: “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon July 1969, A. D. We came in peace for all mankind.” Image credit: NASA

Neil Armstrong also left a silicon disc on the Moon etched with microscopic goodwill messages from the leaders of 73 countries. Most of the messages were written in their respective native languages. In this era before computers were commonplace, some of these messages were handwritten, while others were typed. A great many of these messages call for world peace, pointing to the exploration of space as a chance for humanity to work toward something larger, together.

Even the Apollo 11 astronauts themselves recognized that their mission was far bigger than just them. They chose not to have their names included on the mission patch — a break from NASA tradition. Michael Collins said that this choice was made so that it would be “representative of everyone who had worked toward a lunar landing.”

The mission itself wasn’t a solely American endeavor: A Canadian company built the legs for the Eagle, the two-person landing craft that carried Armstrong and Aldrin to Tranquility Base, their temporary home and landing site on the Moon. Australian radio telescopes received the live footage direct from the Moon and relayed it to NASA’s Mission Control in Houston for the world to see. German rocket engineers were critical in the design of the massive Saturn V rocket for the mission.

The global impact of the Moon landing was unquestionable. An estimated 600 million people worldwide watched the landing live — nearly one-fifth of the global population at…

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Dr. Tanya Harrison

Professional Martian who's worked on rocks and robots on the Red Planet on multiple NASA Mars missions