Space Exploration Day: How India Celebrated the 1st Step on Moon

When Armstrong stepped set foot on the surface of the moon, the whole world sat up and took notice.

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Still from the first moon landing. 
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(This article was first published on 19 July 2019. It has been reposted from The Quint’s archives on the occasion of Space Exploration Day.)

On 20 July 1969, when Neil Armstrong stepped out of his spacecraft to set foot on the surface of the moon, the whole world sat up and took note.

The one small step for man, was indeed a giant leap for mankind, with people across the world lauding the remarkable achievement of the Apollo 11 mission.

The Indian government also lauded the United States space agency NASA’s feat, with special Sienna stamps, broadcast discussions, and screenings organised specially to educate the people on the historic feat.

Armstrong, Aldrin: ‘Delegates of Spirit of Man’

A statement by the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, called the Moon landing as 'one of the most exciting and significant moments in the history of man'.

The statement from Indira Gandhi in 1969.
The statement from Indira Gandhi in 1969.
(Photo: PIB)

In her statement, Gandhi had said that Armstrong and Aldrin are the delegates of the irrepressible spirit of man – the very spirit that discovered fire and thought, song and science and the spirit that crosses oceans on a bundle of reeds and leaps from one celestial body to another in a small vehicle of its own making.

“This moment of triumph and achievement is also a moment of humility and self-search. How man who seeks heavenly suburbs, made his own earth more habitable, friendly and beautiful? Let us direct this power of man which soars starwards into strengthening the bonds of peace and brotherhood on Earth.”
Indira Gandhi, Former Prime Minister of India

Apart from Indira Gandhi's statement, the All India Radio made significant arrangements for special coverage of the mission. The progress of Apollo 11 was broadcasted in the news bulletins.

Coverage Across India

The PIB statement highlighting Indian coverage of Apollo 11.
The PIB statement highlighting Indian coverage of Apollo 11.
(Photo: PIB)

AIR also sent a special correspondent to Paris to report on the launch, which was initiated on 16 July 1969 at 7:02 pm.

The coverage reported on each progress made by the Apollo 11 team, from the launch, progress of the ship after and before it launches, including the separation of the lunar module from the commandship was also broadcasted in India.

The Special Sienna Stamp

Space Exploration Day: How India Celebrated the 1st Step on Moon
(Photo: Wikipedia)

Apart from the live coverage in both Hindi and English throughout, the P&T department also issue a special stamp on 19 November 1969. Printed in raw sienna colour, the special stamps showed a man on the surface of the moon, with the earth in the background.

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