PHOTOS: 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing

A view of the launch of NASA’s Apollo 11 space mission at Cape Kennedy (later Cape Canaveral), Fla., July 16, 1969. (Photo: Ralph Crane/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A half-century ago, in the middle of a mean year of war, famine, violence in the streets and the widening of the generation gap, men from planet Earth stepped onto another world for the first time, uniting people around the globe in a way not seen before or since.

Hundreds of millions tuned in to radios or watched the grainy black-and-white images on TV as Apollo 11’s Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set foot on the moon on July 20, 1969, in one of humanity’s most glorious technological achievements. Police around the world reported crime came to a near halt that midsummer Sunday night.

Astronaut Michael Collins, who orbited the moon alone in the mother ship while Armstrong proclaimed for the ages, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” was struck by the banding together of Earth’s inhabitants.

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From left: Astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin Jr. of NASA’s Apollo 11 mission a few weeks before the launch in May 1969. (Photo: Space Frontiers/Getty Images)
Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong leads Michael Collins and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin (hidden behind Collins) down a corridor on their way to the launch countdown demonstration test on July 15, 1969. (Photo: SSPL/Getty Images)
Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong runs through final notes before the launch of the Apollo/Saturn V space vehicle at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on July 16, 1969. (Photo: NASA/Keystone/Getty Images)
The Apollo 11 astronauts exit the transfer van after they arrive at the mission launch tower in Cape Canaveral, Fla., July 16, 1969. (Photo: Ralph Morse/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images)
The Apollo 11 mission rocket illuminated on the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, July 16, 1969. (Photo: CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)
Mission commander Neil Armstrong, command module pilot Michael Collins and lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin prepare to ride the transport van to the launch pad on July 16, 1969. (Photo: NASA/MCT via Getty Images)
At 9:32 a.m. ET on July 16, 1969, Apollo 11 launched from Florida on a mission to the moon. (Photo: NASA)
Spectators watch as the Apollo 11 crew lifts off at Cape Kennedy in Florida. (Photo: Bill Eppridge/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images)
At 9:32 a.m. ET, the swing arms move away, and a plume of flames signals the liftoff of the Apollo 11 Saturn V space vehicle and astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin from Kennedy Space Center. (Photo: VCG Wilson/Corbis via Getty Images)
Vice President Spiro Agnew and former President Lyndon Johnson watch the liftoff of Apollo 11’s crew from the Kennedy Space Center VIP viewing site. (Photo: NASA/Getty Images)
This NASA handout shows some of the thousands of people who camped out on beaches and roads adjacent to the Kennedy Space Center to watch the launch of Apollo 11’s Saturn V rocket. (Photo: NASA/AFP/Getty Images)
A tracking camera follows the Saturn V rocket shortly after the launch. (Photo: NASA/Bettmann Archive/Getty Images)
Kennedy Space Center control room team members rise from their consoles to watch the liftoff of the Apollo 11 mission on July 16, 1969. (Photo: NASA/AFP/Getty Images)
This image taken in the early moments after the launch was taken by a 70 mm ALOTS (Airborne Lightweight Optical Tracking System) tracking camera mounted on an Air Force EC-135N aircraft flying at around 40,000 feet. (Photo: Space Frontiers/Getty Images)
The lunar module of the Apollo 11 space mission, with astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin aboard, is seen in orbit after its liftoff from the moon’s surface on July 21, 1969, as it approaches the command “Columbia” module for a rendezvous. (Photo: NASA/AFP/Getty Images)
One of the first steps taken on the moon, this is an image of Buzz Aldrin’s boot print from the Apollo 11 mission. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon on July 20, 1969. (Photo: NASA)
Flight controllers in Mission Control Center celebrate the successful conclusion of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission on July 24, 1969. (Photo: NASA)
This photograph of astronaut Buzz Aldrin on the lunar surface on July 20, 1969, was taken by Neil Armstrong with a 70 mm lunar surface camera. (Photo: NASA)
Neil Armstrong took this photo of Buzz Aldrin beside an American flag, with the footprints of the astronauts clearly visible on the surface of the moon, on July 20, 1969. While astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin descended in the “Eagle” to explore the Sea of Tranquility region of the moon, command module pilot Michael Collins remained with the “Columbia” in lunar orbit. (Photo: NASA)
NASA and Manned Spacecraft Center officials join the flight controllers in celebrating the conclusion of the Apollo 11 mission on July 24, 1969. (Photo: NASA)
In this photo taken by Neil Armstrong, lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin had just deployed the mission’s scientific experiments package. (Photo: NASA)
The Apollo 11 crew splashed down at 11:49 a.m. CT on July 24, 1969, about 812 nautical miles southwest of Hawaii and only 12 nautical miles from the USS Hornet, the prime recovery ship for the historic lunar landing mission. (Photo: NASA)
President Richard M. Nixon was in the central Pacific recovery area to welcome the Apollo 11 astronauts aboard the USS Hornet. Seen here in the mobile quarantine facility are, from left, Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin. (Photo: NASA)
New York City welcomes Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin in a showering of ticker tape down Broadway and Park Avenue on Aug. 13, 1969, in a parade that, at the time, was called the largest in the city’s history. (Photo: NASA)
New York City welcomes the three Apollo 11 astronauts on Aug. 13, 1969, with a ticker tape parade, which at the time was called the largest in the city's history. (Photo: NASA)

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