MEN LAND ON THE MOON 50 YEARS AGO TODAY: One Small Step…One Giant Leap!
By John Uri, NASA Johnson Space Center // July 20, 2019
LET THE CELEBRATION BEGIN!
MEN LAND ON THE MOON! Words such as these were emblazoned in dozens of languages on the front page of newspapers around the world, echoing the first part of President John F. Kennedy’s bold challenge to the nation, made more than eight years earlier – to land a man on the Moon.
That part was successfully accomplished on July 20, 1969. The second part of the challenge, the safe return to Earth, would have to wait four more days.
Apollo 11 astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin, and Michael Collins awoke to start their fifth day in space at the end of their ninth revolution around the Moon.
In Mission Control at the Manned Spacecraft Center, now the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Eugene F. Kranz’s White Team of controllers arrived on console, with astronaut Charles M. Duke serving as Capcom.
After a quick breakfast, Aldrin and Armstrong began re-activating the Lunar Module (LM) Eagle, including deploying its landing gear and donned their pressure suits. Near the end of the 12th orbit around the Moon, Duke radioed up to Apollo 11 that they were GO to undock.
The event took place behind the Moon during the start of their 13th revolution, the astronauts filming each other’s spacecraft as they began their independent flights (clip 1, clip 2). After they reappeared from behind the Moon, Armstrong radioed their status to MCC saying, “The Eagle has wings.”
Collins in the Command Module Columbia observed, “I think you’ve got a fine-looking flying machine there, Eagle, despite the fact you’re upside down,” prompting Armstrong to reply, “Somebody’s upside down.”
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