40th Anniversary: Apollo 11 Launches Man To The Moon
Today sees the 40th Anniversary of the launch of NASA’s Apollo 11 mission to the moon.
Sitting 100 meters above the giant Saturn V rocket, the three crew members began the ride of their lives which culminated four days later (on the July 20th) with Armstrongs’ memorable “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind!” as he stepped off the lunar modules’ ladder and took the first step by a human on a celestial body other than Earth.
For 2½ hours Armstrong and “Buzz” Aldrin hopped, skipped and bounced around the surface of the moon. They completed all of the pre-planned mission experiments, setup all of the equipment required of them, spoke to the then US President Richard Nixon (“This is the most historic phone call made from the White House”) via a radio-telephone link, and planted the American flag. When they left the surface of the moon, they took with them some 22kgs of lunar material. And the lander portion of the Lunar Module “Eagle” which still remains on the moon. Attached to the ladder of the lander is a plaque inscribed with the words:
Here Men From The Planet Earth First Set Foot Upon the Moon, July 1969 A.D. We Came in Peace For All Mankind.
NASA recently announced that they were finalising plans to digitally enhance the video footage taken on the surface of the moon by the fixed cameras and by the astronauts themselves. It is hoped that this project will be completed within the next few months. To see some of the already restored footage, have a look at this Fox News video insert and interview: http://gatorurl.com/vh7b0u (note that it is a Fox News video, so has the obligatory advert inserted before the news clip.)
Very interested, (and surprised!) to hear that the television broadcast of the moon landing that millions were watching at the time, was in fact a secondary image. There was no live feed between the NASA Mission Control Centres and the television networks. So they applied a little ingenuity and pointed a television camera at a monitor in the control room!
The Date & Time:
16 July 1969
Kennedy Space Center
Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA.
Saturn V 3-stage liquid-fuel rocket
Height: 110.6 m (363 ft)
Diameter: 10.1 m (33 ft)
Mass: 3,038,500 kg (6,699,000 lb)
Commander: Neil Armstrong
Command Module Pilot: Michael Collins
Lunar Module Pilot: Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr.
The Lunar Module was named “Eagle” after the bald eagle depicted on the insignia; the bald eagle is the national bird of the United States.
The Command Module was named “Columbia”, from the traditional feminine name Columbia used for the United States in song and poetry. (There is some speculation that the name may also have been chosen in reference to the columbiad cannon used to launch the moonships in Jules Verne’s novel From the Earth to the Moon.
Oh, and another great site to visit is the official NASA site, and their special Apollo 11 mini-site. Be sure to watch the video launched from the centre of the media player – the entire mission in under 5 minutes!