Astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins (and many others!) manned the Saturn V rocket, departing the Kennedy Space Center at 9:32 a.m EDT, and landing the moon module (the Eagle) at 4:18 p.m EDT.
With more than half a billion people watching live on television, Neil Armstrong climbed down the ladder and proclaimed: “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Aldrin joined him shortly afterwards, offering the people at home a simple but powerful description of the surface of the moon: “magnificent desolation.” The astronauts explored the lunar surface for two and a half hours, taking photos and collecting samples.
Before heading back to Earth, the crew left behind an American flag, a patch honoring the fallen crew of Apollo 1, and a plaque on one of the Eagle’s legs. It reads, “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the moon. July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.”
Their successful mission was the culmination of both big dreams and hard work, as the world responded to President John F. Kennedy’s challenge to America to “commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth.” (May 25th, 1961).
2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the incredible moon landing. In honor of all those who dared to dream of seeing a world beyond this one, we’ve collected the very best quotes about space together in one place.
In 1961, when Kennedy challenged the United States to put a man on the moon and bring him home again, our fascination with space and space exploration was already evident.
The incredible leaps in engineering and technology that made the Apollo missions possible, as well as the courage of the men who went into space, were fueled by the desire to see and know more than ever before.
Today, we are still fascinated by space and the idea of space travel. Space continues to represent a new frontier for mankind, fascinating and scaring us in equal measure. We continue to push the boundaries of our knowledge, awaiting the day when travel into space is as open and accessible as air travel.
“Those who came before us made certain that this country rode the first waves of the industrial revolutions, the first waves of modern invention, and the first wave of nuclear power, and this generation does not intend to founder in the backwash of the coming age of space. We mean to be a part of it–we mean to lead it. For the eyes of the world now look into space, to the moon and to the planets beyond, and we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace. We have vowed that we shall not see space filled with weapons of mass destruction, but with instruments of knowledge and understanding.”
“I believe that space travel will one day become as common as airline travel is today. I’m convinced, however, that the true future of space travel does not lie with government agencies — NASA is still obsessed with the idea that the primary purpose of the space program is science — but real progress will come from private companies competing to provide the ultimate adventure ride, and NASA will receive the trickle-down benefits.”
“The Earth is the cradle of humanity, but mankind cannot stay in the cradle forever.”
“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.”
“Space is for everybody. It’s not just for a few people in science or math, or for a select group of astronauts. That’s our new frontier out there, and it’s everybody’s business to know about space.”
“Mankind is drawn to the heavens for the same reason we were once drawn into unknown lands and across the open sea. We choose to explore space because doing so improves our lives, and lifts our national spirit. So let us continue the journey.”
“The exploration of space will go ahead, whether we join in it or not, and it is one of the great adventures of all time, and no nation which expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in the race for space.”
“On one side are those who believe space travel is difficult work, but who go for it anyway. On the other are those who believe caring for a goldfish is, and who don’t go after much of anything. Where we choose to seed ourselves on the spectrum of what’s possible is what will ultimately define the size of our lives.”
“Human exploration and colonization of Mars will keep us busy for hundreds, even thousands, of years. During that time, there will be advances in nanotechnology, space sailing, robotics, biomolecular engineering, and artificial intelligence. These advances are occurring even now, affecting our outlook about what it means to be human and engage in human activity. Those technologies will not merely allow us to stay home on Earth and Mars, but our minds will extend our presence throughout the universe so that we will not need or want to extend our bodies there — even if we could, which I think is doubtful.”
Quotes from Astronauts
It’s incredible to think that there are people who have spent time in Space, looking at the Earth, the stars, and the other planets, walking among us and living ordinary lives. These quotes reveal what motivates them to take flight, what our planet looks like from Space, and what space travel has taught them about life here on Earth.
“Never limit yourself because of others’ limited imagination; never limit others because of your own limited imagination.”
“I know the sky is not the limit because there are footprints on the Moon — and I made some of them!”
“To some this may look like a sunset. But it’s a new dawn.”
“You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a bitch.”
“It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.”
“Earth is a small town with many neighborhoods in a very big universe.”
“I looked and looked but I didn’t see God.”
“I am also planning to leave a lot of things undone. Part of life’s mystery depends on future possibilities, and mystery is an elusive quality which evaporates when sampled frequently, to be followed by boredom. For example, catching various types of fish is on my list of good things to do, but I would be reluctant to rush into it, even if i had the time. I want no part of destroying fishing as a mysterious sport.”
“In the van, we can see the rocket in the distance, lit up and shining, an obelisk. In reality, of course, it’s a 4.5-megaton bomb loaded with explosive fuel, which is why everyone else is driving away from it.”
“I find it curious that I never heard any astronaut say that he wanted to go to the Moon so he would be able to look back and see the Earth. We all wanted to see what the Moon looked like close up. Yet, for most of us, the most memorable sight was not of the Moon but of our beautiful blue and white home, moving majestically around the sun, all alone and infinite black space.”
“We are limited only by our imagination and our will to act.”
“I thought the attractions of being an astronaut were actually, not so much the moon, but flying in a completely new medium.”
“When I first looked back at the Earth, standing on the Moon, I cried.”
“Anyone who sits on top of the largest hydrogen-oxygen fueled system in the world, knowing they’re going to light the bottom, and doesn’t get a little worried, does not fully understand the situation.”
“The scenery was very beautiful. But I did not see The Great Wall.”
“The Earth was small, light blue, and so touchingly alone, our home that must be defended like a holy relic. The Earth was absolutely round. I believe I never knew what the word round meant until I saw Earth from space.”
“Mars has been flown by, orbited, smacked into, radar examined, and rocketed onto, as well as bounced upon, rolled over, shoveled, drilled into, baked and even blasted. Still to come: Mars being stepped on.”
“The Earth reminded us of a Christmas tree ornament hanging in the blackness of space. As we got farther and farther away it diminished in size. Finally, it shrank to the size of a marble, the most beautiful marble you can imagine. That beautiful, warm, living object looked so fragile, so delicate, that if you touched it with a finger it would crumble and fall apart.”
“Suddenly, from behind the rim of the moon, in long, slow-motion moments of immense majesty, there emerges a sparkling blue and white jewel, a light, delicate sky-blue sphere laced with slowly swirling veils of white, rising gradually like a small pearl in a thick sea of black mystery. It takes more than a moment to fully realize this is Earth… home.”
“What everyone in the astronaut corps shares in common is not gender or ethnic background, but motivation, perseverance, and desire — the desire to participate in a voyage of discovery.”
“To become an astronaut is not a question of being the best at something or things coming easy to you, but it’s being a person that can work with others and not give up. And, for me, that was part of it too.”
“It’s easy to sleep floating around — it’s very comfortable. But you have to be careful that you don’t float into somebody or something!”
“Earth is a small town with many neighborhoods in a very big universe.”
“Any astronaut can tell you you’ve got to do everything you can to learn about your life support system and then do everything you can to take care of it.”
“Astronauts are inherently insane. And really noble.”
“I don’t know what you could say about a day in which you have seen four beautiful sunsets.”
“Of course risk is part of spaceflight. We accept some of that to achieve greater goals in exploration and find out more about ourselves and the universe.”
Inspirational Quotes from Astrophysicists
From the observations of a heliocentric solar system by Galileo Galilei in the early 17th century, to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, and Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, space is the question that has intrigued some of the greatest minds in every generation.
The best and brightest of those who study space have disseminated their knowledge in ways that have been approachable to anyone who wants to find out more about the universe. They have brought together the “big questions” about science, the way the universe works, the role of our solar system, and our place within it. These are some of their best and most intriguing quotes!
“One of the basic rules of the universe is that nothing is perfect. Perfection simply doesn’t exist…..Without imperfection, neither you nor I would exist.”
“I don’t think the human race will survive the next 1,000 years, unless we spread into space. There are too many accidents that can befall life on a single planet. But I’m an optimist. We will reach out to the stars.”
“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the Universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.”
“When forced to summarize the general theory of relativity in one sentence: Time and space and gravitation have no separate existence from matter.”
“In the context of general relativity, space almost is a substance. It can bend and twist and stretch, and probably the best way to think about space is to just kind of imagine a big piece of rubber that you can pull and twist and bend.”
“However we select from nature a complex [of phenomena] using the criterion of simplicity, in no case will its theoretical treatment turn out to be forever appropriate (sufficient)…. I do not doubt that the day will come when [general relativity], too, will have to yield to another one, for reasons which at present we do not yet surmise. I believe that this process of deepening theory has no limits.”
“Most of what Einstein said and did has no direct impact on what anybody reads in the Bible. Special relativity, his work in quantum mechanics, nobody even knows or cares. Where Einstein really affects the Bible is the fact that general relativity is the organizing principle for the Big Bang.”
“For every one billion particles of antimatter there were one billion and one particles of matter. And when the mutual annihilation was complete, one billionth remained – and that’s our present universe.”
“Einstein was searching for String Theory. It not only reconciles General Relativity to Quantum Mechanics, but it reconciles Science and the Bible as well. “
“For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.”
“I speak now not as a planetary scientist but as someone who has colleagues who are planetary scientists and this is what they told me. Who doesn’t want to go to Europa? The problem is the technology to enable that is not yet available. And so if you direct monies to go to Europa prematurely and you find out that it fails, for whatever reason, it would not have been an effective investment of your money. So you say, “Well, we can try to go to Europa, but it might fail, or maybe the technology won’t come for yet another decade or we know how to get to Mars. We know how to do air bags and drop rovers and those sort of things, so let’s do that.” So we’re prioritizing not so much the science but we’re prioritizing what’s doable.”
“By denying scientific principles, one may maintain any paradox.”
“In my studies of astronomy and philosophy I hold this opinion about the universe, that the Sun remains fixed in the centre of the circle of heavenly bodies, without changing its place; and the Earth, turning upon itself, moves round the Sun.”
“The cosmos is within us. We are made of star-stuff. We are a way for the universe to know itself.”
“To confine our attention to terrestrial matters would be to limit the human spirit. ” – Stephen Hawking
“Cosmology does, I think, affect the way that we perceive humanity’s role in nature. One thing we’ve learnt from astronomy is that the future lying ahead is more prolonged than the past. Even our sun is less than halfway through its life.”
“Who is more humble? The scientist who looks at the universe with an open mind and accepts whatever the universe has to teach us, or somebody who says everything in this book must be considered the literal truth and never mind the fallibility of all the human beings involved?” – Carl Sagan
“His conflict with the Catholic Church arose because deep in his heart Galileo was a believer. There was for him no path of compromise, no way to have separate secular and theological cosmologies. If the Copernican system was true as he believed, what else could Galileo do but fight with every weapon he had in his arsenal of logic, rhetoric, scientific observation, mathematical theory, and cunning insight, to make his Church accept a new system of the universe?”
“My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all. ”
“Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy.”
Our fascination with space, the universe, and our place in it, isn’t just limited to real-life knowledge and proven fact. It has crossed into writing, music, TV, and movies; offering up new perspectives on old space missions, pictures of new worlds, and visions of a future beyond our solar system.
From the novels of Ray Bradbury and Arthur C. Clarke, to the Doctor Who series, and David Bowie’s unforgettable Space Oddity, popular culture gives us a window on what we hope, and fear, to find beyond the stars.
“I’m sure the universe is full of intelligent life. It’s just been too intelligent to come here.”
“It’s a fixer-upper of a planet but we could make it work.””
“Space travels in my blood / There ain’t nothing I can do about it / Long journeys wear me out / But I know I can’t live without it, oh no”
“Space or science fiction has become a dialect for our time. “
“In the past, it was only in science fiction novels that you could read about ordinary people being able to go to space… But you laid the foundation for space tourism.”
“900 years of time and space and I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t important. “
“In science fiction, we dream. In order to colonize in space, to rebuild our cities, which are so far out of whack, to tackle any number of problems, we must imagine the future, including the new technologies that are required. “
“We cannot predict the new forces, powers, and discoveries that will be disclosed to us when we reach the other planets and set up new laboratories in space. They are as much beyond our vision today as fire or electricity would be beyond the imagination of a fish.”
“The function of science fiction is not always to predict the future, but sometimes to prevent it. “
“Looking up into the night sky is looking into infinity – distance is incomprehensible and therefore meaningless. “
“I’m floating in a most peculiar way / And the stars look very different today / For here Am I sitting in a tin can / Far above the world / Planet Earth is blue / And there’s nothing I can do.”
We hope you’ve enjoyed this collection of Space Quotes! As we continue to search the stars, let’s hope that 50 years from now we have an achievement as monumental as the 1969 Moon Landing to celebrate. Stay inspired!