Apollo 11 wasn't the only mission in orbit around the moon on July 20, 1969. The crew was joined by a plucky little robotic Soviet lander, Luna 15, which was racing the American mission to return a lunar soil sample to Earth.
Luna 15 was part of the Soviet Luna program conceived by the Soviet Chief Designer Sergei Korolev more than a decade earlier. In 1955, two years before his R-7 rocket carried Sputnik into orbit, he imagined a more powerful version that could carry significant payloads to the moon. He wanted to explore our satellite with a fleet of robots, some in orbit, some on the surface, and, ultimately, he wanted to bring a soil sample back to study on Earth.
PHOTOS: Apollo 18: Myths of the Moon Missions
Luna 15 was at least the second sample return mission the Soviets launched; another spacecraft launched in June 1969 had failed to reach orbit. But Luna 15 didn't have any trouble leaving the Earth. On July 13, three days before the Apollo 11 crew left the Earth, Luna 15 began its lunar journey. It would study interplanetary space before making a soft landing on the surface. Once there, it would run more experiments and collect a small sample. Then, a dedicated Earth-return module would bring it back.