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Apollo 11 Mission

From The Earth To The Moon

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Apollo 11 Mission Crew

Apollo 11 Mission Crew

NASA
On May 20, 1969, the Apollo 11 launch vehicle and spacecraft had been crawled from the Vehicle Assembly Building and trundled at 0.9 mph to Pad 39-A. A successful countdown test ending on July 3 showed the readiness of machines, systems, and people. The next launch window (established by lighting conditions at the landing site on Mare Tranquillitatis) opened at 9:32 AM EDT on July 16, 1969.

The crew for Apollo 11, all of whom had already flown in space during Gemini, had been intensively training as a team for many months. Commander Neil A. Armstrong, 38, was a civilian who had flown previously on Gemini 8; Command Module Pilot Michael Collins, 38, was a USAF Lt. Colonel who'd flown Gemini 10; Lunar Module Pilot Edwin E. (Buzz) Aldrin, Jr., 39, was a USAF Colonel who'd flown Gemini 12.

The launch went off without a hitch. The first human journey to the surface of the Moon began at Pad A, Launch Complex 39, Kennedy Space Center, Florida with the liftoff of Apollo 11 on a Saturn V booster at 9:32 a.m. EDT (13:32 UT) on a clear sunny Wednesday, 16 July 1969.

The Apollo spacecraft reached Earth parking orbit after 11 minutes. After one and a half orbits the Saturn thrusters fired and the astronauts began their journey to the Moon. On July 20, 1969, after a four day trip, the Apollo astronauts arrived at the Moon and the spacecraft was inserted into lunar orbit.

After a rest period, Armstrong and Aldrin entered the Lunar Module preparing for descent to the lunar surface. The two spacecraft were undocked at about 100 hours, when the Command and Service Modules separated from the Lunar Module. "You cats take it easy on the lunar surface", Michaels Collins said as he released the LM.

Collins did a visual inspection of the lunar module and said, "I think you've got a fine looking machine there, Eagle, despite the fact that you're upside-down."

"Somebody's upside-down", Neil Armstrong joked back.

Lunar Module Pilot, Buzz Aldrin carefully navigated his way to the Lunar surface. He had to fly longer than planned, in order to avoid a field of boulders, and touched down with less than 40 seconds of fuel remaining at 4:18 p.m. EDT on July 20.

Mission commander, Neil Armstrong spoke those famous words, "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed." Charles Duke, the Capcom (capsule communicator) back in Houston, replied, "Roger, Tranquility. We copy you on the ground. You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We're breathing again."

It took 6 hours to prepare to exit the Lunar Module. At 10:56 p.m. EDT on July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first human to set foot on the Moon, marking the occasion with these words, "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind." Unfortunately, a minor break in communications caused the entire world to hear and remember the statement as "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." The Apollo lunar surface camera, mounted on one of the LM legs, broadcast this event to the world.

Aldrin joined Armstrong on the surface about nineteen minutes later, calling it "Magnificent desolation". As he left the LM, Aldrin said, "Now I want to back up and partially close the hatch - making sure not to lock it on my way out." "A particularly good thought." laughed Armstrong.

Asked later on why they bothered closing the hatch, Armstrong said it was to avoid having someone ask "Were you born in a barn?"

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