“In my view, the emotional moment was the landing. That was human contact with the Moon, the landing.”
—Neil Armstrong (Chaikin, Voices, pg. 58)
This is the very first photograph taken by humans on the surface of another world, an astounding photograph of extreme rarity and incredible historic importance.
It is the very first frame (from the first panoramic sequence) taken on the Moon just after landing by Neil Armstrong from his LM Commander window with the Hasselblad IVA (Intra Vehicular Activity) 500EL camera and color magazine 37/R, showing the surface horizon at Tranquility Base seen towards the left/South with a thruster of the LM Eagle on the foreground.
This example has an extraordinary pedigree as it was signed and inscribed to NASA chief of photography Richard “Dick” Underwood by the last men on the Moon Eugene Cernan, Harrison Schmitt and Ronald Evans before the launch of Apollo 17, the final mission of Project Apollo .
Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin had two Hasselblad cameras inside the LM. One Hasselblad 500EL camera for use in the cabin, called the IntraVehicular Camera (IVA). The camera body was black and not intended for use outside during the EVA. The IVA camera did not have a reseau plate, so images taken with it did not have a five-by-five grid of reseau crosses. The IVA camera had an 80mm (focal length) Zeiss lens. One camera for use outside on the lunar surface (Hasselblad 500EL Data Camera), called the ExtraVehicular Camera (EVA), which had a silver-colored finish to prevent overheating. It also had a reseau plate, so images taken with it did show a grid of crosses. The EVA camera had a wide-angle 60mm Zeiss-Biogon lens.
The Apollo 11 crewmen also had three Kodak photographic magazines for use with the two cameras: two color magazines 37/R and 40/S; and one B&W magazine 39/S.
“Gene: This photograph is not very exciting. It has never been published. I can’t understand just why. For it is one of the most astounding photographs ever recorded in all of human history. It is the very FIRST photograph ever taken by a human being while on the surface of the Moon.
Seeing that souvenirs, etc. and the like, are now bad news, I would greatly appreciate if you could do me the great favor of seeing to it that the LAST photograph taken by a human being on the surface of the Moon has within its format our country’s flag. Calm Seas and prosperous voyage.”
—Richard “Dick” Underwood to Capt. Gene Cernan (NASA memo, 21 October 1972)
Learn More about this Collection
© All texts by Victor Martin-Malburet