JULY 20, 1969: “ONE SMALL STEP FOR A MAN”

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Image Credit & Copyright: Neil Armstrong & NASA of Buzz Aldrin and the Lunar Module.  CLICK image for larger view and look below for information and links.

 

On July 20, 1969 at 20:17:39 UTC (16:27:39 EDT) Lunar Module “Eagle” with its crew of two, set down safely on the Moon after some nervous moments to become the 1st ever humans to land, shut down engines and walk on another planetary body, half way to fulfilling the promise by made almost a decade prior by then President John F. Kennedy “Before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”

Not only was that mission accomplished, but man landed on the Moon 6 times in total with 12 astronauts leaving footprints on the Moon.  Had the near disaster of Apollo 13 not taken place as well as the premature end to the program by congress (As Project Apollo was scheduled through Apollo 20) due to lack of interest and the Soviet Union bowing out of the race we would have had a total of 20 sets of footprints from the proposed 10 lunar landings.

Some Apollo 11 Facts:

Launch:  July 16, 1969 at 1332 UTC (0932 EDT) Saturn V rocket (SA-506) Launch Pad 39A on Cape Canaveral FL.

Lunar Touch Down:  July 20, 1969 at 20:17:39 UTC (16:17:39 EDT) Neil Armstrong & Buzz Aldrin touched down in the Sea Of Tranquility.  From that time, as long as they were on the surface the name “Eagle” was replaced with “Tranquility Base”.  The 3rd member of the team Michael Collins orbited in “Columbia”, the Command Module above in lunar orbit.  As alarms were coming into Mission Control and knowing fuel was nearly 15 seconds from dry with autopilot off and Armstrong himself flying the craft nobody was more relieved than Flight Director Gene Kranz and his team at CAPCOM to hear those famous (Recognized) 1st words spoken from another planetary body; “Houston uh, this is Tranquility Base.  The Eagle has landed.” – Neil Armstrong.  Charlie Duke uttered some famous words of his own after hearing Armstrong’s voice; “Roger Trank…Tranquility we copy you on the ground.  You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue.  We’re breathing again.  Thanks a lot.”  Charlie Duke would later be Lunar Module Pilot for Apollo 16 and the tenth person to walk on the Moon.

What goes unnoticed through all of this are the ACTUAL but never recognized TRUE 1st words from the lunar surface that go like this (You can watch any YouTube clip to hear this, go have a listen for yourself.)….

Aldrin: Contact Light. Armstrong (on-board): Shutdown. Aldrin: Okay, engine Stop. Aldrin: ACA out of Detent. Armstrong: Out of Detent. Auto. Aldrin: Mode Control, both Auto, Descent Engine Command Override, Off, Engine Arm, Off. 413 is in. Armstrong: Houston uh, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed. Aldrin: Thank you.

1st Steps:  The 1st time a human being took a step on anything other than the Earth took place on July 21, 1969 at 02:56:15 UTC (22:56:15 EDT on the 20th) and even if you weren’t even alive who doesn’t know one of the most famous quotes in human history; “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Although Armstrong himself said that there is an “A” before “Man” in the statement.  Total boots on surface time between Buzz and Armstrong totaled 2h 31m 40s while the total landing to ascent time on the lunar surface was 21h 36m 21s.

Ascent off the lunar surface: LM Lunar Liftoff Ignition (LM APS) occurred at 17:54:00 UTC (13:54:13 EDT) on July 21, 1969.

Splashdown:  Splashdown took place in the North Pacific Ocean on July 24, 1969 at 16:50:35 UTC (12:50:35 EDT).  The crew of 3 legends was now safely home after being picked up by the USS Hornet (CV-12) with 47.5 lb. of lunar samples and total mission duration of 8d 3h 18m 35s.

One thing that I never understood about the splashdown rescue; We all know Project Apollo was born and driven by the threat of war.  That being said, John F. Kennedy was the driving force and motivation behind it all.  The USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) was commissioned on September 7, 1968 so why in the world didn’t they have CV-67, USS John F. Kennedy pick the crew up?  How fitting would that have been vs. the USS Hornet?!

The Command Service Module:  Designated CSM-107 and named “Columbia” is now on display at the National Air and Space Museum at the National Mall in Washington DC.  Individually they were Command Module (CM-107) and Service Module (SM-107).

 The Lunar Module:  Designated LM-5 and named “Eagle” (While in flight) was the craft that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin descended, landed and lifted off of the lunar surface in.  The descent stage remains on the lunar surface and the ascent stage was left in lunar orbit and eventually crashed back to the lunar surface though it is unknown where.  The Lunar Module was originally named the Lunar Excursion Module or “LEM” which is what you hear time and time again in historical videos and interviews.

 

NEAT NOTES:

Aside from the landing, 1st steps, 1st words, planting of the flag, samples taken and phone call to then President Richard Nixon as well as some scientific instruments still in use today there are some pretty cool, little known facts to Apollo 11 you may like as well.

The Apollo 11 Crew Patch insignia was designed by Michael Collins whose desire was to create a sign of a peaceful lunar landing by the United States.  The initial insignia had the eagle holding the olive branch in its beak and NASA officials stated that the eagle’s talons looked too war-like so the olive branch was placed in its talons instead of the beak.

The insignia graced the back of the Eisenhower Silver Dollar and again later when it was on the Susan B. Anthony Silver Dollar.

A small question arose when the 3 patches seen on their hazmat suits that they were picked up in were gone by the time they touched down on the USS Hornet.  That question was quickly answered when Aldrin stated that they had given them to the helicopter pilots.

Left on the ladder of the lander is a plaque with a depiction of both sides of the Earth as well as the words – “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the moon July 1969, AD.  We came in peace for all mankind.”  It also has the autographs of the three men as well as President Nixon.

Other items left on the Moon were; An Apollo 1 mission patch as well as a diamond studded astronaut pin given to Deke Slayton by the widows of Apollo 1.  It was intended to fly on Apollo 1 but after the fire, the widows gave it to Slayton and him then, to Neil Armstrong.  Armstrong also brought a piece of wood from the left propeller of the Wright Brothers 1903 airplane as well as a piece of fabric from one of its wings.  A bag was left containing a golden replica of the eagle’s olive branch as well as a silicon message disk.  The disk carries statements by Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon and messages from leaders of 73 countries around the world. The disc also carries a listing of the leadership of the US Congress, a listing of members of the four committees of the House and Senate responsible for the NASA legislation, and the names of NASA’s past and present top management.  In his 1989 book; Men from Earth, Aldrin says that the items included Soviet medals commemorating Cosmonauts Vladimir Komarov (Killed onboard Soyuz-1) and Yuri Gagarin, the 1st human in space.

Also here’s President Nixon’s speech to the world had Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins faced disaster and faced death in space or on the Moon.

 

IN THE EVENT OF MOON DISASTER:

“Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace.

These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope for their recovery. But they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice.

These two men are laying down their lives in mankind’s most noble goal: the search for truth and understanding.

They will be mourned by their families and friends; they will be mourned by their nation; they will be mourned by the people of the world; they will be mourned by a Mother Earth that dared send two of her sons into the unknown.

In their exploration, they stirred the people of the world to feel as one; in their sacrifice, they bind more tightly the brotherhood of man.

In ancient days, men looked at stars and saw their heroes in the constellations. In modern times, we do much the same, but our heroes are epic men of flesh and blood.

Others will follow and surely find their way home. Man’s search will not be denied. But these men were the first, and they will remain the foremost in our hearts.

For every human being who looks up at the moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind.”

PRIOR TO THE PRESIDENT’S STATEMENT: The president should telephone each of the widows-to-be.

AFTER THE PRESIDENT’S STATEMENT, at the point when NASA ends communications with the men: A clergyman should adopt the same procedure as a burial at sea, commending their souls to “the deepest of the deep,” concluding with the Lord’s Prayer.

NASA Apollo 11 Mission page:  http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/apollo/missions/apollo11.html

NASA Apollo 11 1st steps page:  http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/apollo/apollo11_40th.html

NASA Apollo 11 photo gallery:  http://www.apolloarchive.com/apollo_gallery.html

NASA Apollo 11 1st steps video:  http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/hd/apollo11_hdpage.html

NASA entire Apollo 11 timeline:  http://history.nasa.gov/SP-4029/Apollo_11i_Timeline.htm

Apollo 11 As You Remember It:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGNryrsT7OI

The Eagle Has Landed:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=keoF8YmTjWg

Apollo 11 Landing:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=piQ6r-cJUVI

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