Monday, July 20, 2009

Apollo 11 Moon Landing


Date: July 16-24, 1969
Crew: Commander Neil Armstrong (38)
Command Module Pilot Michael Collins (38)
Lunar Module Pilot Edwin Aldrin (39)

Command Module Call Sign: Columbia
Lunar Module Call Sign: Eagle
Moon Landing Site: Mare Tranquillitatis

Neil Armstrong's Hometown Newspaper
Armstrong's Hometown Newspaper

I won't rehash the moon landing (much)... it's all over the internet and television today! And while I appreciate that it sparks conversations about NASA's future endeavours, I think the day should honor the accomplishments of astronauts who trained for years to risk their lives in the name of science and exploration!

Some lesser known facts about the first lunar landing mission...

While Neil Armstrong is credited with the telling Mission Control the Eagle landed, this was not the first transmission from the moon. Buzz Aldrin spoke the first words from the lunar surface as he called out navigation data to Armstrong from descent to touchdown. The technical jargon from Aldrin was: "Contact light. Okay, engine stop. ACA, out of detent. Mode control, both auto. Descent engine command override off. Engine arm, off. 413 is in."

Perhaps not terribly historic-sounding... but the very first words a human spoke on another world!

The Laser Ranging Retro-Reflector consisted of mirrors that reflect Earth-based laser beams to measure the exact distance between the Moon and Earth, which is increasing at 1.5 inches each year. Today, it is the only Apollo experiment still returning data.

Lunar Surface Experiments
At 10:56pm EDT, July 20, 1969, Armstrong made his way down the LM ladder to the Moon's surface and spoke his famous line "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind" exactly six and a half hours after landing. Aldrin joined him, describing the view as "magnificent desolation."

Later, Aldrin re-entered the Eagle first. The astronauts hefted film and two boxes containing about 48 pounds of moon rock samples through the LM hatch using a flat cable pulley device called the Lunar Equipment Conveyor.

While moving in the cabin, Aldrin accidentally broke the circuit breaker that armed the main engine for lift off from the moon. There was concern this would prevent firing the engine, which would strand them, since the LM circuitry could not be reconfigured. Fortunately, sticking a felt-tip pen inside the switch was enough to activate the ascent engine, and they rejoined Michael Collins in the orbiting Command Module.