Apollo 11 Plaque Inscription: HERE MEN FROM THE PLANET EARTH FIRST SET FOOT UPON THE MOON JULY 1969, A.D. WE CAME IN PEACE FOR ALL MANKIND (Signatures: Armstrong, Collins, Aldrin, Nixon)
Lunar plaques are rectangular stainless steel plaques (9" x 7 5/8") attached to the ladders on the descent stages of the Americanlunar modules used from Apollo 11 through Apollo 17. All of the plaques bear facsimiles of the participating astronauts' signatures. Two of the plaques (Apollo 11 and Apollo 17) bear a facsimile of the signature of President Richard Nixon. Only the Apollo 12 lunar plaque does not bear a picture of the Earth (and is textured differently as well). Apollo 17's plaque bears a depiction of the lunar globe in addition to the Earth. The plaques used on Apollo missions 13 through 16 bear the call-sign of the lunar module. All the lunar plaques from Apollo 11–17, except Apollo 13's (aborted mission that did not land on the moon), were left on the Moon.
Apollo 11 plaque inscription: See image at right. The statement, "We came in peace for all mankind" is derived from the 1958 National Aeronautics and Space Act's "declaration of policy and purpose":
The Congress hereby declares that it is the policy of the United States that activities in space should be devoted to peaceful purposes for the benefit of all mankind.
Apollo 12 plaque inscription: Apollo 12. November 1969 (Signatures: Conrad, Gordon, Bean)
Apollo 13 plaque inscription: Apollo 13. Aquarius. April 1970 (Signatures on original plaque: Lovell, Mattingly, Haise. Signatures on replacement plaque also carried on the mission: Lovell, Swigert, Haise. Neither plaque was ever placed, as Apollo 13 did not successfully land on the Moon.)
Apollo 17 plaque inscription: Here Man completed his first explorations of the Moon. December 1972 AD. May the spirit of peace in which we came be reflected in the lives of all mankind (Signatures: Cernan, Evans, Schmitt, Nixon).
The actual plaques are curved so as to fit around the landing leg as well as not to hinder the astronauts using the ladder. The plaques are however directly attached to the ladder rungs (between the third and fourth rungs from the bottom of the ladder).
The plaque intended for the Apollo 13 LM Aquarius is in the possession of astronaut Jim Lovell. This was because the original plaque bolted to the LM bore the name of astronaut T. K. Mattingly, who was replaced by J. Swigert two days before the mission launch. Lovell was given a new plaque with Swigert's name to place over the original plaque once the lunar landing was made. However, this was not done because the lunar landing was aborted. Lovell kept the plaque as a memento.
The lunar near-side globe map was added to the Apollo 17 plaque at the suggestion of astronaut Gene Cernan. The six Apollo lunar landing sites are marked on it.
Reproductions of the plaques were given as mementos to foreign governments through various United States embassies after each flight.
James C. Humes, a speech writer for President Nixon and four other presidents, is partly credited for authoring the text on the Apollo 11 lunar plaque. William Safire and Pat Buchanan also worked on drafting the plaque.