by Meindert de Vreeze
"One small step for Man..."
Man landed for
the first time on another heavenly body BST Sunday, July 20, 1969 at 21:17:42
Apollo 11 with Neil Armstrong, "Buzz"Aldrin in the Lunar Module and Mike Collins in the Columbia set out to the moon for the first landing. In the moon race, the Soviet Union at the same time had its own spacecraft heading to the moon, the Luna 15. It was not known if there were "Cosmonauts" on board....
Monday morning, July 21 an estimated 600 million audience on earth saw one of the most historic TV broadcasts ever. I remember seeing the broadcast as well, mid day at Caribbean island at the time being 8 years old. Live from Space!
Four days after launch with the Apollo Saturn V rocket from Cape Kennedy, Apollo 11 Columbia and Lunar Module (LM) undocked near the moon at 1847 BST, and.... the Soviet Luna 15 apparently at 1925 BST, being only 10 miles from the surface....
After a final clear from NASA mission control Houston, the LM descent engine was fired at Sunday 2011 BST in the de-orbit burn. LM followed a carefull path down, a similar one to the previous Apollo 10 try-out mission. At 2101 BST the measasage was : "Eagle to Columbia, You are GO for PDI. 5 minutes later the Eagle LM was 50,000 ft above the moon and 260 NM from the estimated touch down point. At 39,500 ft the landing altitude radar was switched on to update altitude data. Neil and Buzz in the LM were looking at three main instruments: the spacecraft flight director, fuel (for emergency escape) and indicator with range and altitude and descend rates. At 33,000 ft Eagle said: "Good radar returns, this is better than the simulator".
Suddenly... "Program Alarm. It's a error code 1202." The computer overflow alarm consists of an unexpected flow of data concerning radar pointing. The computer has been programmed to recognize this data as being of secondary importance and hopefully will ignore it.... They got a Go from Houston to continue... There were some other alarms....
Armstrong took over to manual control and .... seven hundred feet, 21 down, 33 degrees.... 540 ft... 15 down... 30 degress... looks good. Down a half.. six forward... "sixty seconds.... light on... down two and a half... four forward... four forward... we're picking up some dust. The Eagle skimmed over a small hill. At 21.18 BST Eagle (102:45:43 after mission start) landed:
"Contact lights. OK, engine stop. Tranquility base here. The Eagle has landed."
Houston replied: "Copy you down Eagle. We 've got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We're breathing again. Thanks a lot".
And so did man
land on the moon at July 20, 1969 at site 2 in the "Sea of Tranquility".
It landed 37 seconds later than predicted at a slightly tilted 4 degree
flat moon surface.
The LM was depressurized and Armstrong and Aldrin had their portable lifesystems on and at 03.53 BST Neil Armstrong said he was on the "porch" outside of the LM: the platform on top of the ladder. Armstrong came down the ladder slowly, on TV camera's for the World.
"I am at the foot of the ladder now. The LM footprints are only indented about 1 - 2 inch in very fine ground. "
At 03.56 BST, Armstrong stepped on the moon , some 109 hrs and 42 minutes after Apollo 11 launch from Cape Kennedy. He said:
"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind"
"the surface is fine and powerdy. It adheres like powered charcoal to the soles of my boots. there seems no difficulty in moving around as we suspected."
So, man was on the moon.
At 04.49 BST, President Nixon exchanged greetings with the men on the moon, speaking from Washington. (he forgot about Collins in the Columbia orbiting overhead).
It seems that
the US Government under President Nixon had prepared a confusing and masses
disorienting TV film in case things would go wrong, with a TV
studio played Moon landing < look here. Kubrick and other
Hollywood producers were said to be recruited to help the U.S. win the
high stakes race to the moon. Fearing that no live pictures could be transmitted
from the first moon landing, Nixon enlisted the creative efforts of Kubrick,
whose 2001: a Space Odyssey (1968) had provided much inspiration, to ensure
promotional opportunities wouldn't be missed. But was it only in case the
TV broadcast would fail....
Neil and Buzz walked on the moon, collecting samples and setting up some some scientific instruments and also a prepared American flag. They also set up a laser deflector and signals could be received from California.
The USSR Luna 15 was never heard off. At around 16.55 BST, it presumably crashed some 400 NM from the Apollo Site 2 on the moon. The USA was first on the moon, as promised by President Kennedy. When Neil was already walking for 2 hours on the moon, the Soviet news bulleting announced after their weather forecast that the Americans would walk on the moon "tomorrow" and after the news a show program was broadcasted...
So a couple
of hours later, the two astronauts went back into the LM. At 06.14 BST,
the LM hatch was closed and the men took a rest for 7 hours. At 18.45 BST
it was time to head back to meet the Columbia and head back to earth.
At July 24,
12.21 p.m. the Command module (the cone of the Columbia) and service modules
are separated and at 12.35 p.m. Command module re-enters the Earth's atmosphere.
The model seen
here of Airfix
of the Lunar Module in 1/72 scale , kit no.03013-5 from 1975.
with earth arising....
NASA transcript of the Apollo 11 mission
NASA Apollo 11 pages [40 years]
NASA Apollo 11 pages [ 50 years]
coverage magazine of July 24, 1969, by Michael Wilson.
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|Created this page July 20, 2009;
50 years later update July 20, 2019