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

 

Fifty 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.

 

 

 

Published in: on July 21, 2019 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on July 21, 1969: That’s One small Step for Man. One Giant Leap for Mankind.  
Tags: , , , , ,

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.

Published in: on July 20, 2019 at 5:45 am  Comments Off on July 20, 1969: Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.  
Tags: , , , , ,

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

Published in: on July 20, 2019 at 4:00 am  Comments Off on July 20, 1969: I am the Vine and You are the Branches  
Tags: , , ,

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.

Published in: on July 19, 2019 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on July 19, 1969: In Orbit Around the Moon  
Tags: , , ,

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.

Published in: on July 18, 2019 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on July 18, 1969: Entering the Gravity of the Moon  
Tags: , , ,

July 17, 1969: Halfway to the Moon

Fifty years ago Apollo XI was traveling 5000 miles per hour on its journey to the Moon, the gravity of the Earth gradually slowing the velocity of the spacecraft from the initial 25,000 miles per hour.  The total distance of the trip, one way, was 238, 900 miles. Columbia’s engines were fired for about three seconds to make a course correction.  Everything was going smoothly.  Of course the hard part of the mission lay ahead, the moon landing.  President Nixon had prepared a just in case speech:

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.

 

Published in: on July 17, 2019 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on July 17, 1969: Halfway to the Moon  
Tags: , ,

May 25, 1961: Man on the Moon Speech

One of more spectacular kept promises of an American President since World War II.  Tragically JFK would not be alive to see a Americans set foot on the moon in 1969, but with this speech he set the process in motion:

Finally, if we are to win the battle that is now going on around the world between freedom and tyranny, the dramatic achievements in space which occurred in recent weeks should have made clear to us all, as did the Sputnik in 1957, the impact of this adventure on the minds of men everywhere, who are attempting to make a determination of which road they should take. Since early in my term, our efforts in space have been under review. With the advice of the Vice President, who is Chairman of the National Space Council, we have examined where we are strong and where we are not, where we may succeed and where we may not. Now it is time to take longer strides–time for a great new American enterprise–time for this nation to take a clearly leading role in space achievement, which in many ways may hold the key to our future on earth.

I believe we possess all the resources and talents necessary. But the facts of the matter are that we have never made the national decisions or marshaled the national resources required for such leadership. We have never specified long-range goals on an urgent time schedule, or managed our resources and our time so as to insure their fulfillment.

Recognizing the head start obtained by the Soviets with their large rocket engines, which gives them many months of lead-time, and recognizing the likelihood that they will exploit this lead for some time to come in still more impressive successes, we nevertheless are required to make new efforts on our own. For while we cannot guarantee that we shall one day be first, we can guarantee that any failure to make this effort will make us last. We take an additional risk by making it in full view of the world, but as shown by the feat of astronaut Shepard, this very risk enhances our stature when we are successful. But this is not merely a race. Space is open to us now; and our eagerness to share its meaning is not governed by the efforts of others. We go into space because whatever mankind must undertake, free men must fully share.

I therefore ask the Congress, above and beyond the increases I have earlier requested for space activities, to provide the funds which are needed to meet the following national goals:

First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish. We propose to accelerate the development of the appropriate lunar space craft. We propose to develop alternate liquid and solid fuel boosters, much larger than any now being developed, until certain which is superior. We propose additional funds for other engine development and for unmanned explorations–explorations which are particularly important for one purpose which this nation will never overlook: the survival of the man who first makes this daring flight. But in a very real sense, it will not be one man going to the moon–if we make this judgment affirmatively, it will be an entire nation. For all of us must work to put him there.

Secondly, an additional 23 million dollars, together with 7 million dollars already available, will accelerate development of the Rover nuclear rocket. This gives promise of some day providing a means for even more exciting and ambitious exploration of space, perhaps beyond the moon, perhaps to the very end of the solar system itself.

Third, an additional 50 million dollars will make the most of our present leadership, by accelerating the use of space satellites for world-wide communications.

Fourth, an additional 75 million dollars–of which 53 million dollars is for the Weather Bureau–will help give us at the earliest possible time a satellite system for world-wide weather observation.

Let it be clear–and this is a judgment which the Members of the Congress must finally make–let it be clear that I am asking the Congress and the country to accept a firm commitment to a new course of action, a course which will last for many years and carry very heavy costs: 531 million dollars in fiscal ’62–an estimated 7 to 9 billion dollars additional over the next five years. If we are to go only half way, or reduce our sights in the face of difficulty, in my judgment it would be better not to go at all.

Now this is a choice which this country must make, and I am confident that under the leadership of the Space Committees of the Congress, and the Appropriating Committees, that you will consider the matter carefully.

It is a most important decision that we make as a nation. But all of you have lived through the last four years and have seen the significance of space and the adventures in space, and no one can predict with certainty what the ultimate meaning will be of mastery of space.

I believe we should go to the moon. But I think every citizen of this country as well as the Members of the Congress should consider the matter carefully in making their judgment, to which we have given attention over many weeks and months, because it is a heavy burden, and there is no sense in agreeing or desiring that the United States take an affirmative position in outer space, unless we are prepared to do the work and bear the burdens to make it successful. If we are not, we should decide today and this year.

This decision demands a major national commitment of scientific and technical manpower, materiel and facilities, and the possibility of their diversion from other important activities where they are already thinly spread. It means a degree of dedication, organization and discipline which have not always characterized our research and development efforts. It means we cannot afford undue work stoppages, inflated costs of material or talent, wasteful interagency rivalries, or a high turnover of key personnel.

New objectives and new money cannot solve these problems. They could in fact, aggravate them further–unless every scientist, every engineer, every serviceman, every technician, contractor, and civil servant gives his personal pledge that this nation will move forward, with the full speed of freedom, in the exciting adventure of space.

 

Published in: on July 15, 2019 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on May 25, 1961: Man on the Moon Speech  
Tags: , , ,

Sixty Years After Sputnik

 

I was less than one year old and the Space Race assumed ominous proportions with the launching of Sputnik on October 4, 1957 by the Soviet Union.  Its radio transmissions could be picked up easily by amateur radio enthusiasts and its orbit was low enough, the Soviets making sure its orbit was over the most densely populated portions of the planet, to be seen by the naked eye.  The propaganda victory for the Soviets was immense and the US saw its claim to be ahead in science seem to be hollow.   Politicians had a herd of collective cows and the Space Race was kicked into high gear.  The US satellite Explorer I was launched on January 31, 1958, the day following my future bride’s birth, after the Soviets had launched their second Sputnik in November of 1957.  Developing satellite technology in response to Sputnik and beating the Soviets to the moon  became  a key element in the Cold War.  Sputnik burned up on reentry on January 4, 1958, but its impact on history continues to reverberate to today.

 

Published in: on October 6, 2017 at 5:21 am  Comments (2)  
Tags: , ,