The 363-Page Apollo 11 Mission Flight Plan

apollo mission flight plan

On 21 July 1969, Neil Armstrong took one small step for man and one giant leap for humanity by landing on the Moon and declaring: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”. It marked the completion of 8 years’ hard work by some of history’s finest astronauts.

Book Arts LLC is pleased to present this exquisite publication of the Apollo 11 Flight Plan in a limited run of 500 copies.

Mission Objectives

National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Apollo program was an enormous undertaking requiring the efforts of 400,000 people at an estimated cost of $257 billion, but on 20 July 1969 all that work came down to this one momentous day: will America’s state-of-the-art spaceship successfully carry three astronauts to the Moon? If successful, this momentous event would be watched around the world.

At this mission, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin traveled to the Moon aboard Lunar Module Eagle. Once there, they carried out various tasks while remaining within range of Command Module Eagle – these included surveying surfaces, collecting samples for analysis and deploying several scientific instruments as well as taking photos and planting a United States flag.

After 21 hours and 36 minutes on the lunar surface, Armstrong and Aldrin were ready to head back home, but first needed to board their Command Module and return.

To accomplish this goal, the S-IVB stage reignited for five minutes to place the CSM into translunar orbit before disengaging from its spacecraft-lunar module adapter (SLA), which held onto LM.

Armstrong and Aldrin then began their descent with Eagle to the lunar surface, intending to land at Sea of Tranquility; it had been selected due to its ideal terrain for landing, plus being near NASA’s Surveyor 3 probe which had already visited two years earlier. A controlled descent would take them directly to this planned landing location before disengaging from Eagle to return back to command module.


The Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston released the 363-page final flight plan for NASA’s Apollo 11 mission scheduled to launch July 16. This detailed journey included launch through lunar orbit, moon exploration and return flight, all coordinated through consistent data transmission between elements comprising the Apollo development program – hardware contractors and operational astronauts alike – that comprise it, such as hardware contractors and operational astronauts. It served as an excellent reminder of the early challenges associated with creating a comprehensive mission-planning system capable of meeting such an unprecedented complex and high risk project as the Apollo project required.

On July 19th, after making midcourse corrections, the Saturn V rocket placed Apollo 11 into an initial, elliptical lunar orbit. Commander Neil Armstrong and Lunar Module Pilot Michael Collins aboard Columbia were to dock with Eagle for their inaugural moonwalk on July 21st.

Armstrong would spend 76 hours in lunar orbit before embarking on a two-hour descent towards its surface, taking part in system checks on his Lunar Module (LM) and sending back live footage via television transmission back to Earth. Once on the lunar surface, Armstrong took one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind!

The astronauts utilized several pieces of scientific equipment, including a television camera to broadcast images back to Earth as well as scientific tools like solar wind composition experiments and seismograph packages, while photographing lunar surfaces, the Lunar Module (LM), each other and still and motion picture cameras extensively during their first lunar landing mission. They also took extensive still and motion picture photos which they later used for flight certification purposes. A 10.5x 8 double-sided page was flown with handnotated handwritten blue ballpoint notations detailing activities during that inaugural mission and is flight certified in excellent condition.


The 363-page Apollo 11 flight plan was an astounding document, full of complex technical information. It outlined Commander Neil Armstrong, Lunar Module Pilot Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin and Command Module Pilot Michael Collins’ mission of travelling safely to and returning from the Moon.

Apollo 11’s flight plan consisted of five parts: launch, Apollo lunar orbiting in lunar orbit for exploration purposes, return flight with return flight planning for reentry and splashdown, reentry and splashdown and splashdown. Each phase was closely tracked by mission control from its departure at 9:32 A.M. from Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39A on July 16th 1969 until its completion by mission control on July 18th at 9:32 P.M.

After the Saturn V rocket had separated into its individual stages, lunar orbit maneuvering commenced. The initial burn lasted 6 minutes and placed Apollo 11 in an initial elliptical lunar orbit of 196 by 69 miles; its second burn took just 17 seconds and eased into a circular lunar orbit of 69 miles in preparation for Lunar Module separation and powered descent. By using multiple shorter burns instead of one long burn, risks associated with too great an acceleration could be mitigated to ensure safe landing of Lunar Module on Moon surface amidst chaos of Moon surface dust!

During this phase, astronauts could use their TV camera to broadcast pictures back to Earth for all to view, collect samples of lunar surface materials, deploy various scientific experiments (solar wind composition experiment and seismic experiment package) which would remain on the surface and later be analysed, gather samples for future analysis as well as deploy several scientific experiments like solar wind composition experiment and seismic experiment package that remained on the lunar surface for later analysis.

The final lunar-orbit maneuver, commonly referred to as the’slingshot’ trajectory, was successfully executed without incident and became the highest altitude free flight attempt ever attempted at that time. Astronauts still felt some influence from Earth’s gravity pull; however, as they approached the Moon this effect lessened and their spacecraft speed up in line with lunar orbital velocity; during this phase the astronauts performed midcourse corrections essential for staying on its “free-return” path.


Apollo 11’s 363-page final flight plan provided every step in its historic mission. From astronaut coordination with their command and service module to operating the lunar module, every aspect was thoroughly planned out in this final plan.

The Moon landing was an extremely complex operation. Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin boarded Lunar Module Eagle on July 20, 1969 and headed toward an impact landing in the Sea of Tranquility on that date. Their landing represented an epic effort begun during NASA’s Mercury program from 1959-1963 which sent one-person crews into space in order to determine if humans could live and work in space; followed by Gemini which tested maneuvers and components necessary for Apollo which ultimately became part of NASA.

After performing a 30-second descent orbit insertion burn, the spacecraft was gradually brought within approximately 50,000 feet of Earth. Manual control was enabled, giving its commander time to monitor where its computer was taking the craft and make adjustments if necessary.

Aldrin asked his ground control team when the computer would switch from program P63 to P64, the final approach phase of his descent, in order to inform his landing radar to begin searching for suitable targets and to understand his speed of travel.

Mission Control received his response that all was “looking good in four minutes,” prompting him to check on the status of his ED Batts (explosive device batteries) which powered sensors that control his descent engines.


The 363-page Final Flight Plan served as humanity’s comprehensive playbook for NASA’s Apollo 11 mission to land astronauts on the moon for the first time ever, covering everything from launch through landing and even splashdown.

Plan was devised through extensive collaboration among three NASA centers spread far apart, making sure that mission met all its goals.

At launch on July 16th, the Saturn V rocket fired for five minutes, sending Apollo into orbit. It consisted of the Columbia command module (CSM), Columbia and SLA lunar module adapter carrying Eagle lunar landing craft. Once separated from the S-IVB stage, however, another burn of two minutes took place to place CSM on an interlunar trajectory towards the moon.

At 202 hours, three minutes and nine seconds into their mission, Armstrong and Aldrin separated from Columbia using spacesuits before entering Eagle via its docking tunnel. Armstrong and Aldrin then received training on using Eagle as their temporary living quarters while Collins continued performing maneuvers to assist with preparing Eagle for its descent and landing.

Once in an elliptical lunar orbit, Armstrong and Aldrin refired their engines for the powered descent initiation maneuver. This put them on an incline with the lunar surface, slowing their approach so Eagle’s descent engines could provide adequate braking power. At various points during their lunar descent, the guidance computer issued several 1202 programme alarms signalling its core processing system overloaded – however NASA simulations showed this would not impede their mission and so Armstrong and Aldrin continued with powered descent with little issue from guidance computers triggering 1202 programme alarms due to overloaded core processing systems of guidance computers; nevertheless Armstrong continued with powered descent while managing guidance computer’s issues with guidance computers under control allowing continued use by Armstrong and Aldrin throughout their lunar descent mission.

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