At the time of the Apollo 11 mission, Calle was already a prolific stamp artist, and was one of the first artists chosen by NASA to document the U.S. manned space program. Calle, as the only artist allowed in with the astronauts on the morning of the historic moon landing mission, was able to observe and capture Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins as they prepared for the launch on July 16, 1969. As the astronauts left for the moon, they carried with them the master die for the stamp Calle had designed, both anticipating and commemorating that soon to be first step.
Once it had returned to Earth, the plate was used to print what was at that point the largest U.S. stamp ever released. When it was offered to the public on September 9, 1969, Calle's "First Man on the Moon" became an incredibly popular lunar landing souvenir, with over 152 million produced.
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