Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. To celebrate the occasion, we’re revisiting the accomplishments of that mission—one of the most significant moments in science, engineering, and American history.

This, however, wasn’t just a powerful and moving event for America—the entire world was watching. Sure, our motivations for going to the moon were partly political. But to have humans, so delicate and fragile, travel more than 200,000 miles from Earth and safely touch down on the lunar surface would fundamentally change what we thought was possible as a species. And when humankind gathered in unison to bear witness to Neil Armstrong’s small step/giant leap five decades ago, it created a palpable and global sense of wonder.

Our last moon landing was in 1972, with Apollo 17 and Gene Cernan’s moonwalk. Someday we shall return: Private firms and NASA are both hoping to get back to the moon for exploration and to map its surface for water. Our lunar adventures are nowhere near done, though it might be a some time until we can all collectively share the awe that the world felt 50 years ago.

This week, our journey is devoted to the preparations for launch, a trip back to the day when we first set off for the moon. As for the rest of space, launch into WIRED’s full collection of photos here.

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