July 24, 1969: Splashdown

Waking up at 6:47 AM Eastern Daylight Time, the crew made final preparations for reentry.  At 12:21 PM the Command Module separated from the Service Module.  Columbia entered the Earth’s atmosphere four minutes later.  Columbia splashed down 950 miles southwest of Honolulu and 15 miles from their recovery ship, USS Hornet. Collins, Armstrong and Aldrin were home, their mission completed.

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July 21, 1969: That’s One Small Step for Man. One Giant Leap for Mankind.

 

Fifty three years ago men first set foot on the Moon.  A little bit over six and a half hours after the Eagle had landed, at 2: 56 UTC time, on July 21, 1969, Neil Armstrong set foot on the Moon saying:  That’s One small Step for Man. One Giant Leap for Mankind.  (Armstrong said that he stated for a man, but the a is not audible.)   Aldrin’s first words on the Moon were:  “Beautiful view”, to which Armstrong responded “Isn’t that something? Magnificent sight out here.” Aldrin answered, “Magnificent desolation.”

Seven minutes after setting foot on the Moon, Armstrong took a soil sample.  The planting of the American flag in the Lunar dust presented some difficulties, with the sharp edges of Lunar dust resisting the driving of the flag pole into the surface.  However, it was accomplished and the astronauts saluted Old Glory.  They then received a call from President Nixon:

Nixon: Hello, Neil and Buzz. I’m talking to you by telephone from the Oval Room at the White House. And this certainly has to be the most historic telephone call ever made. I just can’t tell you how proud we all are of what you’ve done. For every American, this has to be the proudest day of our lives. And for people all over the world, I am sure they too join with Americans in recognizing what an immense feat this is. Because of what you have done, the heavens have become a part of man’s world. And as you talk to us from the Sea of Tranquility, it inspires us to redouble our efforts to bring peace and tranquility to Earth. For one priceless moment in the whole history of man, all the people on this Earth are truly one: one in their pride in what you have done, and one in our prayers that you will return safely to Earth.

Armstrong: Thank you, Mr. President. It’s a great honor and privilege for us to be here, representing not only the United States, but men of peace of all nations, and with interest and curiosity, and men with a vision for the future. It’s an honor for us to be able to participate here today.

They then deployed the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package which would conduct various passive experiments.  Armstrong and Aldrin then collected 47.5 pounds of soil and rock samples.  The rock samples included three hitherto undiscovered minerals.  Interestingly enough, the newly found minerals were also later discovered on  Earth.  They then reboarded the Eagle, having been on the surface for slightly more than two hours, slept for seven hours, and at 17:54:00 UTC, the Eagle blasted off to rendezvous with the Columbia being flown by Michael Collins.  The Eagle rejoined the Columbia at 21:24 UTC. Eagles ascent stage was jettisoned  at 23:41.  All told the Eagle had been on the Lunar surface for 21 hours and 36 minutes.  The plague below was left behind which read:

Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon, July 1969, A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.

The Soviets that same day attempted to land the unmanned Lunar 15 on the Moon, but it crashed into a mountain in the Mare Crisum.

 

 

 

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You Have to Love Buzz Aldrin

 

Aldrin shot down two MIGs in combat in the Korean War, and he earned two Air Force Service Medals, two Distinguished Flying Crosses and three Air Medals  during his career.  As An astronaut he risked his life time after time on beyond cutting edge technology.  Post his NASA career he had a problem with depression and alcoholism and quit drinking for good in 1978.  He was 72 when he punched the obnoxious lunatic, who accused him of being a coward, in the above video.

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Apollo 11 Press Conference

The post flight press conference of Apollo 11 conducted on August 12, 1969.

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July 23, 1969: Preparing for Landing

 

Fifty years ago was a relatively quit day on Columbia as the crew prepared for the splash down the next day.  It gave the astronauts time to contemplate the remarkable events they had been through, something that was mentioned in the telebroadcast from Columbia on July 23.

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July 22, 1969: Heading Home

On July 22, 1969 the engines of the Columbia were fired to begin the trip back to Earth, the Columbia leaving lunar orbit with a speed of 3600 miles per hour.  About 15 hours later a mid course correction was made to keep the Columbia on track back to Earth.

 

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July 20, 1969: Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.

 

 

 

Fifty years ago on July 20, 1969 Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men to land a  craft on the moon.  As the Eagle descended from Columbia, Armstrong noted that the projected landing site was strewn with boulders, and he began maneuvering the craft to find an area clear of boulders. The Eagle landed in a clear patch with 90 seconds of propellant left.

Two and a half hours later, before they went outside, Aldrin made this statement:  This is the LM pilot. I’d like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his or her own way.  A Presbyterian, Aldrin then ate bread and drank wine in a Presbyterian communion service, the wine and bread having been prepared by his pastor.  NASA, afraid of atheist law suits, requested that Aldrin not broadcast what he was doing, and he did not.

Armstrong and Aldrin were scheduled to sleep for five hours before leaving Eagle and walking on the Moon.  They realized that efforts to sleep would be futile, and they began preparations immediately for their Moon walk.  Tomorrow would be a big day for them.

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July 20, 1969: I am the Vine and You are the Branches

In the radio blackout, I opened the little plastic packages which contained the bread and the wine. I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity of the moon, the wine slowly curled and gracefully came up the side of the cup. Then I read the Scripture, “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whosoever abides in me will bring forth much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing.” I had intended to read my communion passage back to earth, but at the last minute [they] had requested that I not do this. NASA was already embroiled in a legal battle with Madelyn Murray O’Hare [sic], the celebrated opponent of religion, over the Apollo 8 crew reading from Genesis while orbiting the moon at Christmas. I agreed reluctantly. I ate the tiny Host and swallowed the wine. I gave thanks for the intelligence and spirit that had brought two young pilots to the Sea of Tranquility. It was interesting for me to think: the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the very first food eaten there, were the communion elements. And of course, it’s interesting to think that some of the first words spoken on the moon were the words of Jesus Christ, who made the Earth and the moon — and Who, in the immortal words of Dante, is Himself the “Love that moves the Sun and other stars.”

Edward Eugene “Buzz” Aldrin

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July 19, 1969: In Orbit Around the Moon

Fifty years ago Columbia arrived at the Moon.  As the craft passed behind the Moon and fired its service propulsion engine to enter lunar orbit.  Thirty orbits of the Moon followed, with the crew getting ready for the landing of The Eagle next day, and making visual inspection of the Southern Sea of Tranquility where the landing was scheduled to take place.  The Americans were not alone as they orbited the moon.  The Soviet Lunar 15 was also orbiting the Moon.  An unmanned craft, the Soviets hoped to land it on the Moon, take samples of soil from the Moon, and then have it fly back to Mother Russia, and steal some of the luster from the American achievement.  The Space Race had begun as a product of the Cold War, and it was ending in the same fashion.

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July 18, 1969: Entering the Gravity of the Moon

Fifty years ago Apollo 11 entered the gravity well of the Moon from the gravity well of the Earth.  Three-quarters of the way to the Moon, the speed of Columbia had slowed to 2000 miles per hour.  An expected course correction was not needed as the Columbia was right on target to go into Lunar Orbit.  The crew inspected the landing craft Eagle, and were pleased to report that the Eagle was in good shape suffering no ill effects.  The astronauts turned in at 10:00 PM.  They would need all the rest they could wrest from excitement and adrenaline.

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