Tuesday, July 20, 2010

July 20th

July 20th, 1969-41 years ago today-Apollo 11 landed on the moon at 4:18 pm edt. One of those events that permanently remains in your memory if your of a certain age. My father worked for IBM at the time, and was doing contract work for NASA. The lunar mission motivated him to buy our families first TV (Dad had refused to have an "idiot box" in the house before this) and we all sat around watching the landing in black and white. Truly, it was an amazing event in human history.

At 10:56 p.m. EDT, American astronaut Neil Armstrong, 240,000 miles from Earth, speaks these words to more than a billion people listening at home: "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." Stepping off the lunar landing module Eagle, Armstrong became the first human to walk on the surface of the moon.

At 9:32 a.m. on July 16, with the world watching, Apollo 11 took off from Kennedy Space Center with astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin Jr., and Michael Collins aboard. Armstrong, a 38-year-old civilian research pilot, was the commander of the mission. After traveling 240,000 miles in 76 hours, Apollo 11 entered into a lunar orbit on July 19. The next day, at 1:46 p.m., the lunar module Eagle, manned by Armstrong and Aldrin, separated from the command module, where Collins remained. Two hours later, the Eagle began its descent to the lunar surface, and at 4:18 p.m. the craft touched down on the southwestern edge of the Sea of Tranquility. Armstrong immediately radioed to Mission Control in Houston, Texas, a famous message: "The Eagle has landed."

At 10:39 p.m., five hours ahead of the original schedule, Armstrong opened the hatch of the lunar module. As he made his way down the lunar module's ladder, a television camera attached to the craft recorded his progress and beamed the signal back to Earth, where hundreds of millions watched in great anticipation. At 10:56 p.m., Armstrong spoke his famous quote, which he later contended was slightly garbled by his microphone and meant to be "that's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind." He then planted his left foot on the gray, powdery surface, took a cautious step forward, and humanity had walked on the moon.

"Buzz" Aldrin joined him on the moon's surface at 11:11 p.m., and together they took photographs of the terrain, planted a U.S. flag, ran a few simple scientific tests, and spoke with President Richard M. Nixon via Houston. By 1:11 a.m. on July 21, both astronauts were back in the lunar module and the hatch was closed. The two men slept that night on the surface of the moon, and at 1:54 p.m. the Eagle began its ascent back to the command module. Among the items left on the surface of the moon was a plaque that read: "Here men from the planet Earth first set foot on the moon--July 1969 A.D--We came in peace for all mankind."


I wonder if younger people appreciate how incredible it was at the time.


splord said...

My 7 year old self was mad because the whole thing happened on my brother's birthday and not the week before on mine.

We were at my eldest sister's house, and I got to stay up late to watch it.

It was very incredible.

Lockwood said...

Thanks for noting the time... I very vaguely remember the first moonwalk, but what I mainly remember is barely being able to stay awake for it. This confirms what I remember: it was way past my bedtime.

And regarding your closing comment, I wonder if young people are pissed it has never happened in their lifetime, and may not in the foreseeable future. Taxes are evil, unless they're being used to kill brown people.

Suzanne said...

still is incredible -- thank you