Man On The Moon! Reliving the Apollo 11 Landing

Hey there, space cadets! It looks like I’ll be displaying my particular nerd fascination in space on this blog. It’s something that I have held an interest in for my whole life, and with Space Sunday, I can share these interests with anybody and everybody!

What better a way to start this segment by beginning at mankind’s most famous achievement in space exploration: the Apollo 11 lunar landing!!

Man set foot on the moon for the first time on July 20, 1969. Today marks the 45th anniversary of that fateful moment. As an added bonus, it happened on a Sunday too! ♥

Let’s take a look at the mission as a whole. The Apollo 11 astronauts: Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins launch from the Kennedy Space Center at 9:32 a.m., on July 16.  They spend some time in orbit before they fire their engines to set themselves on a path to the moon.  The trip to the moon lasts three days! When they reach lunar orbit, they spend another day preparing for the landing.

Finally it arrives, everything is set, and Armstrong and Aldrin climb into the Lunar Module to begin their descent. It is a very tense situation. The astronauts begin their shaky approach while everybody at mission control holds their breath. As they get lower, there are alarms signaling dangerous land beneath. Armstrong has to manually maneuver the lander to avoid large boulders and a small crater during the last seconds of descent.

Finally, the lander touches down at 4:18 p.m. Armstrong radios in one of his famous lines, “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.” With those words, everybody erupts into cheers and celebrates a great achievement: they have landed a man on the moon.

They wait for almost seven more hours before they leave the lander. It is 10:56 p.m. Then Armstrong leaves the lander, climbs down, and puts the first footprint on the moon. This moment is televised and becomes perhaps one of the most unifying moments in all of human history. His first steps represent all of humanity; it is not an achievement held solely by NASA or the United States. Armstrong himself knows this, saying, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Chills! Every time!

Armstrong describes what he sees as a landscape of “magnificent desolation”

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But they’re not just there for the view. The landing proves to be a valuable science mission as well. After the initial steps and famous phrases, the two astronauts begin to perform get to work around the lander.

They take surface samples, photograph the landscape, and set up instruments to measure surface activity. One thing they leave is a patch that commemorates the Apollo 1 astronauts who had burned to death on the launch pad. They also leave an American Flag with wires run through it to simulate a wavy motion.

They spend two-and-a-half hours in EVA (Extra-Vehicular Activity) performing their mission, all of which is being recorded and televised. Tasks finished, Armstrong and Aldrin leave and rejoin Collins in lunar orbit before they make the return trip back to Earth. They safely splash down into the Pacific Ocean on July 24, 1969.

This is a great achievement, one remembered by many and quoted by many as well. One thing I like to look at is the environment. While the moon is comprised of pretty much the same stuff as good ole Earth, the environment is different. With no atmosphere, the moon’s sky is always dark. With no atmosphere and no seismic activity, any disruption on the surface remains visible. Basically, unless a meteor hits the landing site, the Lunar Module and all the instruments and even their footprints will remain just as they were made half a century ago. Fascinating!

moon footprint


 

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This is an image taken from a lunar orbiter of the original landing site. The TV Camera mark is a little hard to see, but you can make out the lander and some of the other instruments set up.

To me, the most interesting thing about this is that little line from the crater to the lander. The second image has an unidentified arrow pointing to it. That is the path that Armstrong took to go investigate the crater they almost landed in.  Crazy right?

I hope that this enlightened you about something you may not have known, and if not I hope I at least entertained you. Maybe my rambling of awe and love has struck a chord somewhere in your thoughts. Let me know, did I tickle your fancy?

Also, if you want to look for more information, NASA‘s website covers all of the mission details.

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