Earthrise over the Moon. The Earth is seen rising above Smyths Sea on the Moon in this photograph taken during the Apollo 11 mission. The Earth is seen oriented with the North Pole toward the right. The brownish land mass that may be seen toward the left side is Australia. Apollo 11 was the first manned mission to the surface of the Moon, arriving on 20 July 1969. Mission Commander Neil Armstrong became the first man to step onto the Moon on the following day. Apollo 11 returned safely to Earth on 24 July 1969.