National Archives and Records Administration

"The President held an interplanetary conversation with Apollo 11 Astronauts, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin on the Moon."
--President Richard Nixon's Daily Diary, July 20, 1969
In the late 1950s the United States watched the Soviet Union take the lead in the rapidly escalating space race. The Soviet lead was both embarrassing and menacing to a nation that prided itself on technological know-how. On May 25, 1961, when President John F. Kennedy challenged the nation to landing a man on the Moon before the end of the decade, he struck a responsive chord with the American people.

The Apollo program, created to meet the goal of landing men on the Moon, enlisted 20,000 companies, hundreds of thousands of individuals, and some 25.5 billion dollars. On July 20, 1969, astronauts of the Apollo 11 Mission became the first humans to set foot on the Moon. The Moon landing was a stunning achievement that commanded world attention.

A portion of President Nixon's Daily Diary listing the telephone conversation
with Apollo 11 astronauts on the Moon, July 20, 1969

Shortly after stepping onto the Moon, astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin spoke with President Nixon by phone, in what the President described as "the most historic phone call ever made from the White House."
National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials Project

Split television screen showing President Nixon in the White House speaking to Apollo 11 astronauts on the Moon
National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials Project

National Archives records relating to the space program are in the Records of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and at several Presidential libraries and the Nixon Presidential Materials Project.

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Last updated: March 1996