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THE FIRST MAN ON THE

MOON A LOOK BACK ON THE HISTORIC FLIGHT 50 YEARS AGO

A Special Publication of:


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50 YEARS AGO

APOLLO 10 CLEARS THE WAY FOR THE FIRST MOON LANDING “Houston, we are returning to Earth!” With those words, Apollo 10 Commander Thomas P. Stafford announced that the Trans Earth Injection (TEI), a 165-second burn of the Service Propulsion System (SPS) engine had been successfully completed while the spacecraft was behind the Moon and out of communications with Earth. Stafford and his crewmates Lunar Module Pilot Eugene A. Cernan and Command Module Pilot John W. Young had completed 31 orbits around the Moon during 61 hours and 37 minutes. Stafford and Cernan had tested the Lunar Module Snoopy and flown it to within 47,000 feet of the lunar surface while Young remained aboard the Command Module Charlie Brown. Within minutes after TEI, the astronauts began a live color TV broadcast, providing lively commentary while showing viewers on Earth excellent scenes of the rapidly receding Moon. They also took some remarkable photographs. The apparent size of the Moon visibly decreasing during the course of the broadcast prompted Capcom Joe H. Engle to say, “You guys are really hauling the mail out there.” By the time the 53-minute broadcast ended, Apollo 10 was 3,900 miles from the Moon, but also slowing down as lunar gravity continued to exert its force on the spacecraft. Less than an hour later, the excited crew resumed their TV commentary, again showing the now slightly smaller Moon. After the seven-minute broadcast, the tired crew placed their spacecraft in the Passive Thermal Control (PTC) or barbecue mode to even out temperature extremes and settled down for their first sleep during the coast to Earth. Early the next day, Capcom Jack R. Lousma informed the crew that the TEI burn was so precise that the first planned midcourse correction during the coast to Earth was not needed. The crew conducted their next TV transmission, showing both the Earth and the Moon, with the Moon appearing about twice as big as the Earth, still some 210,000 miles away. Since the spacecraft was still in PTC mode, the Earth and Moon passed progressively through the spacecraft’s windows as it slowly rotated on its vertical axis. About an hour after the 11-minute broadcast, Apollo 10 entered the Earth’s gravitational sphere of influence and began accelerating. During their next TV broadcast about five hours later, the crew not only showed the Moon and Earth, now appearing to be about the same size, but

tered a radio blackout period a few seconds later, caused by the buildup of ionized gases as a result of rapid deceleration. The blackout period lasted about three minutes, during which the crew experienced up to 6.7 gs of deceleration forces. At about 24,000 feet altitude, two drogue parachutes deployed to provide initial deceleration, followed at 10,000 feet by the three main parachutes that provided a splashdown velocity of about 22 miles per hour.

Eugene Cernan during TV transmission from Apollo 10

ford and Cernan were also featured during the 29-minute broadcast. The crew then turned in for the night. The next morning, Lousma informed the astronauts that the previous day the Apollo 11 crew had completed their water egress training in the Gulf of Mexico, including donning the Biological Isolation Garments (BIG) they would wear following splashdown to prevent any possible lunar microorganisms from escaping into Earth’s environment. The BIGs were a part of an overall quarantine program NASA established for all astronauts returning from Moon landings to prevent any possible biological contamination of the Earth. The rest of the day in space was relatively quiet, taken up with housekeeping and navigation duties. The only activity of note was that Stafford, Cernan, and Young became the first astronauts to shave in space, using brushless shaving cream. After Apollo 10 passed the halfway point in its return trip to Earth, the crew broadcast a TV transmission lasting about 10 minutes, showed the shrinking Moon and the growing Earth, and included many comments from the crew extoling the virtues of a space shave. Soon after, the crew settled down for their final sleep period in space.

Receding Moon, taken from Apollo 10 shortly after TEI.

The first significant activity for their last day in space was the final color TV broadcast from a distance of about 43,000 miles from Earth. The 12-minute transmission included views of the now much larger Earth as well as comments from Young, Cernan, and Stafford summarizing their perspectives on their mission, finally closing by showing photographs of the Peanuts© characters Charlie Brown and Snoopy, after whom the crew named their spacecraft. Soon after the TV broadcast, the crew conducted a small midcourse correction maneuver, the only one required during the trans-Earth coast thanks to the very precise TEI burn. The nearly seven-second firing of the SPS engine refined the spacecraft’s trajectory for reentry and also reduced the g-forces the crew felt during the rapid deceleration. At the time of the correction burn, Apollo 10 was still some 30,000 miles above the Earth, and traveling at about 8,000 miles per hour, but the distance was rapidly decreasing as the spacecraft’s velocity increased. Less than three hours later, the crew separated the Command Module (CM) from the Service Module and turned its blunt heat shield into the direction of travel. By the time it made first contact with the Earth’s atmosphere 16 minutes later at an altitude of 400,000 feet, the point called Entry Interface, Apollo 10 was traveling at 24,791 miles per hour, the fastest reentry for any crewed space mission. To this the day, Stafford, Cernan, and Young hold the record as the fastest humans.

turned the camera into the interior of the spacecraft. Young was clearly seen wearing a patch over his left eye to aid with dark adaptation for navigation sightings. Staf-

Apollo 10 reentered the Earth’s atmosphere on the night side over the southwest Pacific Ocean and continued northeast toward its splashdown target. The spacecraft en-

At precisely 11:53 AM CDT on May 26, 1969, Apollo 10 splashed down in the Pacific Ocean 460 miles east of American Samoa. The splashdown occurred shortly before sunrise, just 1.5 miles from the targeted point and 3.3 miles from the prime recovery ship the Landing Platform Helicopter USS Princeton. Stafford, Cernan, and Young had completed a flight lasting 192 hours and 3 minutes. Within 39 minutes, recovery forces delivered the trio to the deck of the Princeton, where they were greeted by the ship’s skipper, Captain Charles M. Cruse, and dozens of cheering sailors. After a brief stay aboard the Princeton, Stafford, Cernan, and Young were helicoptered to Tafuna International Airport, Pago Pago, American Samoa, where they were greeted by Governor Owen S. Aspinall, his wife Taotafa, and 5,000 Samoan well-wishers during a brief ceremony. From there, they took a C-141 transport aircraft back to Ellington Air Force Base in Houston, where they were reunited with their families and welcomed by a cheering crowd. The CM Charlie Brown was offloaded from the Princeton in Hawaii on May 31, flown

Apollo 10 floating beneath its three main parachutes, just moments before splashdown in the Pacific Ocean east of American Samoa.

to Long Beach, California, on June 4, and then trucked to the North American Rockwell plant in Downey to undergo postflight inspection. Charlie Brown is currently on display at the London Science Museum. Apollo 10 did indeed sort out the unknowns, as Stafford had promised prior to the mission. Stafford, Cernan, and Young completed the dress rehearsal for the lunar landing mission, proving the operations necessary for navigating two spacecraft independently in lunar orbit. Their color television broadcasts throughout the flight brought the experience into everyone’s living rooms. The mission encountered very few anomalies, and those were easily and quickly corrected for the next mission, Apollo 11, the first mission to land humans on the Moon. Apollo 10 ensured that the goal that President John F. Kennedy’s set for the nation in 1961 to land a man on the Moon and return him safely to the Earth was within our grasp. n


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50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE MOON LANDING

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NASA NAMES APOLLO 11 CREW On Jan. 9, 1969, NASA formally announced the crew for the Apollo 11 mission, scheduled for July of that year. Planned as the fifth crewed Apollo mission, if all went well on the two flights preceding it, Apollo 11 would attempt the first human lunar landing, fulfilling President John F. Kennedy’s goal of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth. The next day, NASA introduced the Apollo 11 crew during a press conference at the Manned Spacecraft Center, now the Johnson Space Center in Houston. The prime crew consisted of Commander Neil A. Armstrong, Command Module Pilot (CMP) Michael Collins, and Lunar Module Pilot (LMP) Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin.

All three were experienced astronauts, each having flown one Gemini mission. Armstrong and Aldrin had served on the backup crew for Apollo 8 the previous December and Collins was initially a member of that crew until a bone spur in his spine requiring surgery sidelined him. Fully recovered from the operation, NASA added him to the Apollo 11 crew. The Apollo 11 backup crew of Commander James A. Lovell, CMP William A. Anders, and LMP Fred W. Haise, would be ready to fly the mission in case something happened to the prime crew. Lovell and Anders had just completed the Apollo 8 lunar orbit mission and Haise was a backup crewmember on that flight. When Anders announced that he would retire from NASA in August 1969 to join the National Space Council (TBC),

Thomas K. “Ken” Mattingly began training in parallel with Anders in case the mission slipped past that date. Hardware for the Apollo 11 mission began arriving at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in January 1969. The Lunar Module (LM) ascent and descent stages arrived on Jan. 8 and 12, respectively, from their manufacturer, the Grumman Aircraft Corporation in Bethpage, New York. The Douglas Aircraft Corporation in Long Beach, California, shipped the Saturn V rocket’s S-IVB third stage to KSC on Jan. 19. North American Rockwell in Downey, California, shipped the Command Module (CM) and Service Module (SM) to KSC on Jan. 23, where workers mated the two craft six days later in preparation for preflight testing in the altitude chamber. n

Top: Astronauts (left to right) Aldrin, Armstrong, and Collins pose for reporters on Jan. 10, 1969, after their announcement as the prime crew for the Apollo 11 Moon landing mission. Bottom Left: Apollo 11 LM ascent stage arrives at KSC. Bottom Right: Saturn V S-IVB third stage arrives at KSC.

A P O L L O 11 C R E W

NEIL ARMSTRONG

BUZZ ALDRIN

MICHAEL COLLINS

Neil Armstrong was born in Wapakoneta, Ohio, on August 5, 1930. After serving in the Korean War and then finishing college, he joined the organization that would become NASA. He joined the astronaut program in 1962 and was command pilot for his first mission, Gemini VIII, in 1966. He was spacecraft commander for Apollo 11, and became the first man to walk on the moon.

Buzz Aldrin was born on January 20, 1930, in Montclair, New Jersey. His father, a colonel in the U.S. Air Force, encouraged his interest in flight. Aldrin became a fighter pilot and flew in the Korean War. In 1963 he was selected by NASA for the next Gemini mission. In 1969, Aldrin, along with Neil Armstrong, made history when they walked on the moon as part of the Apollo 11 mission.

Michael Collins was born in Rome, Italy on October 31, 1930. Inspired by John Glenn, he was chosen by NASA to be part of the third group of astronauts. His first spaceflight was the Gemini 10 mission, where he performed a spacewalk. His second was Apollo 11—the first lunar landing in history. Collins received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He currently works as an aerospace consultant.

ASTRONAUT

ASTRONAUT

ASTRONAUT


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APOLLO 11 PREPARATIONS In February 1969, NASA was becoming cautiously optimistic that the first human lunar landing could be achieved by that summer, to meet President John F. Kennedy’s goal of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth before the end of the decade. The flights of Apollo 7 and 8 in late 1968 successfully demonstrated the Command and Service Modules (CSM) in Earth and lunar orbit, respectively. The upcoming flight of Apollo 9 would test the Lunar Module (LM) in Earth orbit, followed by its test around the Moon during Apollo 10 two months later. If those two flights were successful, then the first landing could be attempted by Apollo 11 as early as July 1969. In February, preparations continued for the historic mission. Workers assembled the Saturn V rocket, support astronauts simulated the deployment of the lunar surface science experiments, the Apollo 11 astronauts took a geology training field trip, and scientists and technicians began a simulation of the Lunar Receiv-

awaiting its flight, and the rocket for Apollo 10 was in another high bay in the VAB, awaiting its rollout to Launch Pad 39B in mid-March. Elsewhere at KSC, the Apollo 11 CSM and LM were undergoing testing in the Manned Spacecraft Operations Building. The primary goal of the first Moon landing mission was to demonstrate that the Apollo spacecraft systems could safely land two astronauts on the surface and return them safely to Earth. During the first lunar surface Extravehicular Activity (EVA), the crew were to spend about two and a half hours outside the LM. In addition to collecting rock and soil samples for return to Earth, the astronauts would also set up science experiments. In November 1968, NASA announced that during the first landing, Apollo astronauts would deploy three scientific experiments comprising the Early Apollo Surface Experiment Package (EASEP) – a passive seismometer, a laser ranging

ology training. The geology field exercise in west Texas was near Sierra Blanca and the ruins of Fort Quitman, about 90 miles southeast of El Paso. Accompanied by a team from MSC’s Geology Branch, the Apollo 11 astronauts practiced sampling the variety of rocks present at the site to obtain a representative collection, skills they would need to choose the best sample candidates during their brief excursion on the lunar surface. The LRL was a critical ground component of the Apollo program. The 83,000-square-foot facility, residing in MSC’s Building 37, was specially designed and built to isolate the astronauts, their spacecraft, and rock samples returning from the Moon to prevent back-contamination of the Earth by any possible lunar micro-organisms, and to maintain the lunar samples in as pristine a condition as possible. Following a readiness review of the facility on Feb. 3, the LRL staff began preparations for a 30-day

Astronauts Schmitt (left and middle) and Lind (right) during a simulation of the deployment of the EASEP. Aldrin, in the white shirt behind the dish antenna, observed the simulation with great interest.

ing Laboratory (LRL). The pace of training for the prime crewmembers Commander Neil A. Armstrong, Lunar Module Pilot Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin, and Command Module Pilot Michael Collins, as well as their backups James A. Lovell, Fred W. Haise, and Williams A. Anders, was steadily increasing and becoming more focused on the lunar landing mission.

retro-reflector, and a solar wind composition experiment. On Jan. 21, 1969, astronauts Harrison “Jack” Schmitt, the only geologist in the astronaut corps, and Don Lind conducted a simulation of the EASEP deployment in Building 9 of the Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC), now the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Aldrin was present and observed the simulation, obviously with great interest.

In preparation for the launch of Apollo 11, workers in the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at Kennedy Space Center began stacking the stages of the Saturn V rocket that would take the spacecraft off the planet and send it on its way to the Moon. Workers first mounted the S-IC first stage on its Mobile Launch Platform on Feb. 21, then stacked the S-II second stage on Mar. 4 and the S-IVB third stage the next day. While this work was underway, the Saturn V for Apollo 9 was already on Launch Pad 39A

Generic instruction in geology, including classroom work and field trips, became part of overall astronaut training beginning in 1964. But once a crew was designated that had a very good chance of actually walking on the lunar surface and collecting rock and soil samples, NASA realized that specialized instruction in geology was necessary. On Feb. 24, 1969, the two prime moonwalkers Armstrong and Aldrin, along with their backups Lovell and Haise, participated in their only trip specifically dedicated to ge-

simulation starting Mar. 3. This was the most complex test of the facility to verify that all its components would be ready to support crewmembers and their samples returning from the Moon. Central to the simulation were exercises in the chemistry and geology areas, where the LRL’s vacuum system was located, critical to preventing back contamination. Engineers passed simulated lunar materials through the vacuum chamber during the exercise, before dispersing them to other parts of the LRL for examination. Other parts of the simulation involved the biological part of the LRL, where scientists conducted back contamination experiments. Although the simulation was overall successful, several deficiencies were uncovered, in particular with the glovebox system that was prone to leaks which could result in back contamination. Those issues would be corrected before NASA certified the facility. n

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APOLLO 11 ROLLS OUT TO THE LAUNCH PAD They each provided explanations about their specific roles in the mission and answered numerous questions from the assembled reporters. During the week of May 5, Apollo 11 prime and backup crewmembers trained for the first lunar surface Extravehicular Activity (EVA), or spacewalk. The training sessions with the astronauts wearing pressure suits and under near-vacuum conditions took place inside Chamber B of MSC’s Space Environment Simulation Facility (SESL). These training sessions followed previous ones in Chamber B that were conducted at sea level. During the training, astronauts practiced operations they would conduct on the Moon, including extracting experiment packages from the LM and setting them up on the surface. The Saturn V rocket carrying Apollo 11 shortly after leaving the VAB on its way to Launch Pad 39A.

On May 20, 1969, while Apollo 10 was on its way to the Moon, the Saturn V that carried Apollo 11 on its historic journey took the first steps toward its ultimate destination. Apollo 11 astronauts Commander Neil A. Armstrong, Lunar Module Pilot (LMP) Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin, and Command Module Pilot (CMP) Michael Collins were on hand to watch their rocket make its slow trek from the

Lt. Hatleberg rehearsed these procedures in the Gulf of Mexico near Galveston, Texas, using a boilerplate Apollo Command Module (CM) and supported by the Motorized Vessel (MV) Retriever. Another component of the postflight quarantine program was the Mobile Quarantine Facility (MQF) that housed the returning astronauts along with a flight surgeon and an engineer from their arrival aboard the prime recovery ship to their return to the LRL. The MQF designated for Apollo 11, the third in a series of four units delivered to NASA from the manufacturer Airstream Company of Jackson Center, Ohio, arrived at MSC on May 12. Airstream built the MQFs under contract to Melpar, Inc., of Falls Church, Virginia. NASA engineers had put the first MQF through extensive testing including onboard the USS Guadalcanal, the prime recovery ship for Apollo 9. Lessons learned from those tests were incorporated into the later units. The MQF, a highly modified 35-foot Airstream trailer, contained a lounge, a galley with microwave oven, sleeping quarters and a bathroom, was powered internally by

Left: Apollo 11 Commander Armstrong inside Chamber B during lunar surface EVA training. Right: Apollo 11 LMP Aldrin inside Chamber B during lunar surface EVA training.

Left: Apollo 11 astronauts (left to right) Armstrong, Collins, and Aldrin pose in front of their Saturn V rocket at Launch Pad 39A. Right: The Apollo 11 Saturn V on Launch Pad 39A.

Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) to Launch Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center. They were busy preparing for the mission by practicing for the first moonwalk and training for splashdown and recovery, including wearing Biological Isolation Garments to protect Earth from possible lunar microbes. The Mobile Quarantine Facility that housed them from splashdown until arrival at the Lunar Receiving Lab was delivered to the Manned Spacecraft Center, now the Johnson Space Center in Houston. The Lunar Module (LM) completed tests to certify it for the loads it would encounter during the Moon landing. On May 14, Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins held a press conference at MSC to discuss their upcoming mission.

To safeguard against the remote possibility that astronauts returning from the Moon might harbor potentially harmful microorganisms, NASA put in a place a stringent postflight quarantine program for the crewmembers, their spacecraft, and the lunar samples they brought back. The Lunar Receiving Laboratory (LRL) at MSC was the facility where the postflight quarantine took place, but additional measures were required for the time period between splashdown and the crew’s arrival at the LRL. The first of these measures involved the crewmembers donning Biological Isolation Garments (BIG) prior to exiting the spacecraft after splashdown. Since the crew didn’t carry the BIGs with them to the Moon and back, one of the recovery personnel, also clad in a BIG, opened the hatch to the capsule after splashdown and handed the suits to the astronauts inside, who donned them before exiting onto life rafts. Lieutenant Clancy Hatleberg of the US Navy’s Underwater Demolition Team-11 (UDT-11) served as the biological decontamination swimmer for Apollo 11. In addition to providing the crewmembers with the BIGs he also sprayed the capsule, the astronauts, and himself with a disinfectant before they were brought aboard the prime recovery ship. On May 24, the Apollo 11 astronauts and

Left: The MQF for Apollo 11 shortly after its arrival at MSC is lifted from a flatbed truck. Right: Workers push the MQF into Building 228 at MSC.

a diesel generator and batteries, and could interface with ship and aircraft power systems. It could support six people for up to 10 days. The MQF would be offloaded from the prime recovery ship, flown aboard a transport aircraft back to Houston, and finally trucked to the LRL. To certify the LM and its systems for the loads it would encounter during a lunar landing, on May 7 engineers at MSC completed the fifth and final drop test with the flight-like LM-2 in the Vibration and Acoustics Test Facility (VATF). The first four tests conducted in March and April established the functioning of all LM systems after the impacts of a lunar landing. This final test qualified the LM’s pyrotechnics. The series of tests completed the certification of the LM for the first lunar landing. n

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Armstrong carried with him a piece of wood from an airplane that belonged to the Wright brothers. The first recorded flight was achieved by the Wright Brothers in 1903, 66 years before the first manned lunar mission. Thus, Neil Armstrong saw it fit to take with him pieces of wood from the pioneering Wright plane as well as a piece of fabric from the plane to symbolize the great progress made in aviation. Armstrong held these in his “personal preference kit” (PPK). The Wright Brothers, like Neil, were from the state of Ohio. The artefacts now sit in the Smithsonian museum in Washington, D.C. 

If Apollo 11 had failed, President Nixon had a speech ready. Although the Apollo 11 now has a cemented place in world history, at the time of its launch its success was not so certain. The mission had such a large risk of failing, in fact, that President Richard Nixon had a speech at the ready in case of catastrophe. As nobody had ever once landed on the Moon, it was not known whether or not it was even possible to takeoff from the Moon in order to return back to Earth. Thankfully, there was never occasion for the use of the speech, although copies of the text have since surfaced.

Armstrong and Aldrin spent almost a full day on the Moon’s surface. The period spent outside the probe while on the Moon is known as “extravehicular activity”, or EVA, a term that covers any astronaut activity performed beyond the Earth’s atmosphere. Due to the many experiments the astronauts conducted on the Moon as well as placement of the many instruments involved, the total EVA lasted 21 hours and 36 minutes. However, only a few hours of time was spent on the lunar surface itself, as the astronauts took breaks in the probe as well.

The astronauts left pictures of human beings and the recordings of many languages on the Moon’s surface. The astronauts left several items on the surface of the Moon, including pictures of human beings as well as audio recordings of several different languages to represent the global significance of the mission. Medallions bearing names of the three astronauts who perished in Apollo 1 on the launch pad and the two cosmonauts who perished in a similar accident were all left on the surface of the Moon as well.

The astronauts landed with only 25 seconds of fuel to spare. In vein with the intricate planning of the Apollo 11 mission, a site on the Moon was picked as the landing site that was thought to be a clear choice. However, while the Apollo probe was descending, the two astronauts realized the site was filled with boulders and knew it would be hazardous to attempt their descent. Therefore, Armstrong began to manually navigate the probe which involved skimming over the risky site, a decision which meant more fuel would be consumed while skimming over the location. The probe had a fuel limit set where upon reaching it, automatic abort of the landing would begin.

The exact phrase uttered by Armstrong has been disputed. “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” is a phrase familiar to many, but did you know that its accuracy has been disputed by Armstrong himself? The exact quote, Armstrong claimed, is actually “that’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” Although many claimed to not hear this subtle variation, linguists have confirmed that Armstong does in fact utter “a”, leading to the quote to most officially be presented with the article in brackets. 

Many people believe that the probe carried only two astronauts, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, with Armstrong being more famous of the two. While it is true that the module that landed on the Moon carried the two astronauts, they were three in total when they left the Kennedy Space Center, Florida on July 16th, 1969. When the Apollo spacecraft approached the Moon, one module was left orbiting around the Moon and was piloted by the third astronaut named Michael Collins. Although Collins did not experience the glory of stepping on the Moon’s surface firsthand, the mission would not have been possible without him.


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THE MAKING OF THE APOLLO 11 MISSION PATCH Following the tradition set by the crew of Gemini V, the Apollo 11 crew was given the task of designing its mission patch. Apollo 11 was, and still is, one of the most publicly recognized missions NASA has ever had. The eyes of the world were on Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, making the Apollo 11 patch not only be a symbol for the mission, but also a representation of the intentions of America, the hopes of NASA, and the astronauts themselves. With this daunting task in front of them, the astronauts set forth to create a design. After some discussion the crew decided to keep their names off the patch. Michael Collins explains: “We wanted to keep our three names off it because we wanted the design to be representative of everyone who had worked toward a lunar landing, and there were thousands who could take a proprietary interest in it, yet who would never see their names woven into the fabric of a patch. Further, we wanted the design to be symbolic rather than explicit.” In addition to keeping the crew names off the patch, the decision to use the Arabic numerals “11” instead of “XI” or even “eleven” was extremely purposeful. Neil Armstrong particularly disliked spelling out the word “eleven” (as it was in Collin’s first design), because it wouldn’t be easily understandable to foreigners, so the crew decided on “11”. Fellow astronaut Jim Lovell suggested the eagle, the national bird of the United States, as the focus of the patch. Running with that proposal, Michael Collins found a picture of an eagle in a National Geographic book about birds: "Water, Prey, and Game Birds of North America," and traced it using a piece of tissue paper. He then sketched in a field of craters beneath the eagle’s claws and the earth behind its wings. This preliminary design did not satisfy the crew. Armstrong and Collins believed that it did not represent all they wanted it to convey. The olive branch was suggested by Tom Wilson, a computer expert and the Apollo 11 simulator instructor, as a symbol of the peaceful expedition. The crew was delighted with that no-

tion and Collins quickly modified the sketch to have the eagle carrying the olive branch in its beak.

A-B Emblems became the sole contractor for all NASA patches in 1971.

After making a few detail-oriented decisions, the patch was ready to be submitted. Highly realistic, the crater-pocked moon was colored grey, the eagle brown and white, the Earth blue, and the sky black (just as it would be from the lunar surface). The Earth, suspended like a small blue marble in a black sky, is actually incorrectly drawn. The patch shows the Earth to be shadowed on the left side, while the Earth, if viewed from the lunar surface, would be dark on the bottom. This mistake was never corrected.

It was a common practice for the commander of each mission to fly a T-38 into the Asheville airport to help the designers achieve the vision of the crew. Once the graphic was approved, a drawing would be created of the design. The drawing would then be blown up, using scale rulers and enlarging cameras, to exactly six times the size of the patch. The enlargement would be marked with a pencil to show every embroidery stitch required for the final product. The sketch would then be fed into the punching machine, which would produce a roll of paper with punches for every stitch. As the final step before embroidery, the Swiss Embroidery Loom would be threaded and the punching roll is fed into it along with the cloth. After the machine (with the help of a human hand) was finished embroidering, the emblems were cut and given a triple-thread pearl stitch border in order to insure that it is ravel proof.

However, the initial patch design was rejected. Bob Gilruth, the director of the then-named Manned Spacecraft Center, saw the eagle landing with its talons extended as too hostile and warlike. So, the olive branch was transferred from the eagle’s mouth to his talons, a less menacing position. Although happy with the design, Michael Collins maintained that the eagle looked “uncomfortable” in the new version and that he “hoped he dropped the olive branch before landing”.

THE FINAL DESIGN

The embroidered Apollo 11 patch was manufactured by A-B Emblems, a patch embroidery company started by E. Henry Conrad. A partner of NASA for previous missions,

The embroidered patches are sewn onto flight suits, recovery suits, jackets, and any other official NASA gear for the mission. The spacesuits themselves did not have embroidered patches. Instead, the patch would be silkscreened directly onto the fabric along with the NASA logo and the American flag. n

APOLLO 11 PATCH PRESENTED TO MARS 1 CREW This framed Apollo 11 mission patch was presented to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center during the July 21, 2014, when the center’s Operations and Checkout Building was renamed the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building. The patch was flown aboard Apollo 11 in 1969. In 1987, all three crewmembers -- Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins -- signed the patch and presented it to former NASA Administrator James C. Fletcher for safekeeping until it could be presented to the first crew to land on Mars. “Those of you who are familiar with NASA know that mission patches are common mementos and keepsakes that accompany just about every mission,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said at the renaming ceremony. “But what is unique about this patch is its inscription that reads ‘To be presented to the Mars 1 crew.’ “Twenty-seven years ago, the men who accomplished what many believed was impossible, were already imagining NASA’s next giant leap -a human mission to Mars…and they had no doubt we would succeed. Neither do we,” said Bolden.


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APOLLO 11 FLIGHT A Walkthrough in 16 Steps STEP 1 16 July, 1969, 13:32 Launch by a Saturn V rocket. This is followed by two revolutions in Earth orbit

STEP 2 2h 44-50m Third stage of the rocket reignits to send the spacecraft to the Moon

STEP 3 3h 5m CSM separates from the third stage and the LM is uncovered

STEP 4 3h 24m - 4h 17m The CSM extracts the LM and they continue to the Moon (the rocket stage will miss it)

STEP 5 3d 4h After 3 days travel the SM engine slows the spacecraft to enter Moon orbit

STEP 6 3d 23h In Moon orbit, Armstrong and Aldrin move to the LM

STEP 7 4d 4h The CSM and LM separate, the CSM with Collins onboard remains in Moon orbit

STEP 8 20 July, 20:17 Landing using the descent stage engine (4d 6h)

STEP 9 21 July, 02:56 First step on the Moon by Armstrong (4d 13h)

STEP 10 5d 4h 21½ hours after the landing the ascent stage lifts off

STEP 11 5d 8h The ascent stage goes into Moon orbit and docks with the CSM

STEP 12 5d 10h After the crew is united in the CM the ascent stage is moved away

STEP 13 5d 15h The SM engine is fired to escape Moon orbit and go to the Earth

STEP 14 8d 2h 49m Before reentry the CM separates from the SM and turns 180° to face the heat shield forward

STEP 15 8d 3h 00-18m Air friction heats the shield and slows the CM until it can be landed by parachutes on 24 July, 16:50

STEP 16 8d 4h Astronauts are picked up and brought to an aircraft carrier


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50TH ANNIVERSARY OF OF THE MOON LANDING 50TH ANNIVERSARY THE MOON LANDING

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MARGARET HAMILTON: APOLLO ON THE WAY SOFTWARE ENGINEER, AWARDED TO THE MOON: PRESIDENTIAL MEDAL OF FREEDOM LUNAR SCIENCE ANNOUNCED The primary goal of the first Moon landing mission was to demonstrate that the Apollo spacecraft systems could safely land two astronauts on the surface and return them safely to Earth. During the first lunar surface Extravehicular Activity (EVA), the crew were to spend about two hours outside the Lunar Module (LM). In addition to collecting rock and soil samples for return to Earth, the astronauts would also conduct science. On November 19, 1968, NASA announced that when Apollo astronauts first land on the Moon, possibly as early as during the Apollo 11 mission in the summer of 1969, they would deploy three scientific experiments – a passive seismometer, a laser ranging retro-reflector, and a solar wind composition experiment. The passive seismometer experiment was a self-contained 100-pound seismic station to detect any Moonquakes. The experiment was solar-powered and had its own communications capability so that it transmitted its results back to Earth after the astronauts departed the lunar surface. If the Moon is seismically active, the instrument could provide information about its internal structure and possibly yield clues about its formation. The Principal Investigator for this experiment was Gary Latham of Columbia University’s Lamont Geological Observatory in Palisades, New York.

Left: A mockup of the laser ranging retro-reflector. Right: Astronauts training to deploy the laser ranging retro-reflector before their mission.

The laser ranging retro-reflector was a passive experiment weighing about 70 pounds. It consisted of an array of precision optical reflectors to serve as a target for Earth-based lasers. By precisely measuring the time it takes a laser beam to travel from Earth and bounce back from the retro-reflector, scientists calculated the Earth-Moon distance to an accuracy of eight centimeters. Measurements taken over time and from different stations on Earth helped determine fluctuations in Earth’s rotation and also recorded continental drift. The Principal Investigators for the seismic experiment were Carroll Alley of the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland, and Donald Eckhardt of the Air Force Cambridge Research Laboratory in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The solar wind composition experiment consisted of a sheet of aluminum to trap particles of the solar wind, in particular the noble gases helium, neon, argon, krypton, and xenon. The astronauts unfurled the aluminum foil collector near the beginning of their EVA and then rolled it up and returned it to Earth for laboratory analysis. The Swiss government sponsored the one-pound experiment. The Principal Investigator was Johannes Geiss of the University of Bern in Switzerland. During their flight from Earth, the experiments were stowed in the Scientific Equipment Bay of the LM’s Descent Stage. The crew manually retrieved the packages once on the lunar surface and deployed the experiments within 60 feet of the LM. Beginning with the second Moon landing, astronauts deployed more sophisticated experiments as part of the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP) and conducted more extensive geological surveys around their landing sites. n

Fifty years ago, humans first set foot on the Moon during the Apollo 11 mission. That success would not have been possible if not for the team of 400,000 people who worked to ensure the success of the mission and the safety of astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. One of those 400,000 people was Margaret Hamilton. On November 22, 2016, President Barack Obama awarded Hamilton the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her contribution that led to Apollo 11’s successful landing. The very first contract NASA issued for the Apollo program (in August 1961) was with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to develop the guidance and navigation system for the Apollo spacecraft. Hamilton, a computer programmer, would wind up leading the Software Engineering Division of the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory (now Draper Labs). Computer science, as we now know it, was just coming into existence at the time. Hamilton led the team that developed the building blocks of software engineering – a term that she coined herself. Her systems approach to the Apollo software development and insistence on rigorous testing was critical to the success of Apollo. As she noted, “There was no second chance. We all knew that.” Her approach proved itself on July 20, 1969, when minutes before Armstrong and Aldrin landed on the Moon, the software overrode a command to switch the flight computer’s priority system to a radar system. The override was announced by a “1202 alarm” which let everyone know that the guidance computer was

shedding less important tasks (like rendezvous radar) to focus on steering the descent engine and providing landing information to the crew. Armstrong and Aldrin landed on the Moon, rather than aborting the approach due to computer problems. In fact, the Apollo guidance software was so robust that no software bugs were found on any crewed Apollo missions, and it was adapted for use in Skylab, the Space Shuttle, and the first digital fly-by-wire systems in aircraft. Hamilton was honored by NASA in 2003, when she was presented a special award recognizing the value of her innovations in the Apollo software development. The award included the largest financial award that NASA had ever presented to any individual up to that point. Today, Margaret Hamilton is being honored again – this time at the White House. President Obama has selected her as a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The highest civilian award of the United States, it is awarded to those who have made an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors. n


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50 YEARS AGO

JULY 20, 1969: ONE GIANT LEAP FOR MANKIND July 1969. It's a little over eight years since the flights of Gagarin and Shepard, followed quickly by President Kennedy's challenge to put a man on the moon before the decade is out.

Collins later writes that Eagle is “the weirdest looking contraption I have ever seen in the sky,” but it will prove its worth.

Aldrin joins him shortly, and offers a simple but powerful description of the lunar surface: “magnificent desolation.” They explore the surface for two and a half hours, collecting samples and taking photographs.

When it comes time to set Eagle down in the Sea of Tranquility, Armstrong improvises, manually piloting the ship past an area littered with boulders. During the final seconds of descent, Eagle’s computer is sounding alarms. It turns out to be a simple case of the computer trying to do too many things at once, but as Aldrin will later point out, “unfortunately it came up when we did not want to be trying to solve these particular problems.”

21

They leave behind an American flag, a patch honoring the fallen Apollo 1 crew, and a plaque on one of Eagle’s legs. It reads, “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the moon. July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.” 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE MOON LANDING

NEWSPAPER

When the lunar module lands at 4:18 p.m EDT, only 30 seconds of fuel remain. Armstrong radios “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.” Mission control erupts in celebration as the tension breaks, and a controller tells the crew “You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue, we’re breathing again.” Armstrong will later confirm that landing was his biggest concern, saying “the unknowns were rampant,” and “there were just a thousand things to worry about.” Crater 308 stands out in sharp relief in this photo from lunar orbit.

Smoke and flames signal the opening of a historic journey as the Saturn V clears the launch pad.

It is only seven months since NASA’s made a bold decision to send Apollo 8 all the way to the moon on the first manned flight of the massive Saturn V rocket.

At 10:56 p.m. EDT Armstrong is ready to plant the first human foot on another world. With more than half a billion people watching on television, he climbs down the ladder and proclaims: “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” (› Play Audio)

July 1969. It's a little over eight years since the flights of Gagarin and Shepard, followed quickly by President Kennedy's challenge to put a man on the moon before the decade is out.

Collins later writes that Eagle is “the weirdest looking contraption I have ever seen in the sky,” but it will prove its worth.

Aldrin joins him shortly, and offers a simple but powerful description of the lunar surface: “magnificent desolation.” They explore the surface for two and a half hours, collecting samples and taking photographs.

The crew splashes down off Hawaii on July 24. Kennedy’s challenge has been met. Men from Earth have walked on the moon and returned safely home. When it comes time to set Eagle down in the Sea of Tranquility, Armstrong improvises, manually piloting the ship past an area littered with boulders. During the final seconds of descent, Eagle’s computer is sounding alarms.

It turns out to be a simple case of the computer trying to do too many things at once, but as Aldrin will later point out, “unfortunately it came up when we did not want to be trying to solve these particular problems.”

Now, on the morning of July 16, Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins sit atop another Saturn V at Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. The three-stage 363-foot rocket will use its 7.5 million pounds of thrust to propel them into space and into history.

They leave behind an American flag, a patch honoring the fallen Apollo 1 crew, and a plaque on one of Eagle’s legs. It reads, “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the moon. July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.”

When the lunar module lands at 4:18 p.m EDT, only 30 seconds of fuel remain. Armstrong radios “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.” Mission control erupts in celebration as the tension breaks, and a controller tells the crew “You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue, we’re breathing again.”

In an interview years later, Armstrong praises the “hundreds of thousands” of people behind the project. “Every guy that’s setting up the tests, cranking the torque wrench, and so on, is saying, man or woman, ‘If anything goes wrong here, it’s not going to be my fault.’” Armstrong will later confirm that landing was his biggest concern, saying “the unknowns were rampant,” and “there were just a thousand things to worry about.”

Crater 308 stands out in sharp relief in this photo from lunar orbit.

Smoke and flames signal the opening of a historic journey as the Saturn V clears the launch pad.

It is only seven months since NASA’s made a bold decision to send Apollo 8 all the way to the moon on the first manned flight of the massive Saturn V rocket.

At 10:56 p.m. EDT Armstrong is ready to plant the first human foot on another world. With more than half a billion people watching on television, he climbs down the ladder and proclaims: “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” (› Play Audio)

Now, on the morning of July 16, Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins sit atop another Saturn V at Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. The three-stage 363-foot rocket will use its 7.5 million pounds of thrust to propel them into space and into history.

Armstrong and Aldrin blast off and dock with Collins in Columbia. Collins later says that “for the first time,” he “really felt that we were going to carry this thing off.” The crew splashes down off Hawaii on July 24. Kennedy’s challenge has been met. Men from Earth have walked on the moon and returned safely home. In an interview years later, Armstrong praises the “hundreds of thousands” of people behind the project. “Every guy that’s setting up the tests, cranking the torque wrench, and so on, is saying, man or woman, ‘If anything goes wrong here, it’s not going to be my fault.’”

In a postflight press conference, Armstrong calls the flight “a beginning of a new age,” while Collins talks about future journeys to Mars.

At 9:32 a.m. EDT, the engines fire and Apollo 11 clears the tower. About 12 minutes later, the crew is in Earth orbit. After one and a half orbits, Apollo 11 gets a “go” for what mission controllers call “Translunar Injection” - in other words, it’s time to head for the moon. Three days later the crew is in lunar orbit. A day after that, Armstrong and Aldrin climb into the lunar module Eagle and begin the descent, while Collins orbits in the command module Columbia.

Armstrong and Aldrin blast off and dock with Collins in Y E A R Sthat A G O “for the first time,” he Columbia. Collins later5 0says JULY 20, 1969: ONE GIANT LEAP this FORthing MANKIND “really felt that we were going to carry off.”

In a postflight press conference, Armstrong calls the flight “a beginning of a new age,” while Collins talks about future journeys to Mars.

At 9:32 a.m. EDT, the engines fire and Apollo 11 clears the tower. About 12 minutes later, the crew is in Earth orbit.

After one and a half orbits, Apollo 11 gets a “go” for what mission controllers call “Translunar Injection” - in other words, it’s time to head for the moon. Three days later the crew is in lunar orbit. A day after that, Armstrong and Aldrin climb into the lunar module Eagle and begin the descent, while Collins orbits in the command module Columbia.

Over the next three and a half years, 10 astronauts will follow in their footsteps. Gene Cernan, commander of the last Apollo mission leaves the lunar surface with these words: “We leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return, with peace, and hope for all mankind.” n

Over the next three and a half years, 10 astronauts will follow in their footsteps. Gene Cernan, commander of the last Apollo mission leaves the lunar surface with these words: “We leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return, with peace, and hope for all mankind.” n Buzz Aldrin climbs down the Eagle’s ladder to the surface.

Buzz Aldrin climbs down the Eagle’s ladder to the surface.

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50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE MOON LANDING

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50 YEARS AGO

TWO CRITICAL APOLLO TESTS IN HOUSTON In the late spring of 1968, NASA conducted two critical tests at the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston to certify components of the Apollo spacecraft for human space flight. These thermo-vacuum tests, conducted in the Space Environment Simulation Laboratory (SESL), verified the space-worthiness of the Command Module (CM) and the Lunar Module (LM). Successful completion of both tests were constraints to the first manned flight of each vehicle – Apollo 7 in the case of the CM and (at the time) Apollo 8 for the LM. Completed in 1965, the SESL houses two chambers for thermo-vacuum testing of large spacecraft. Chamber A is a 120-foot high, 65-foot diameter stainless steel vessel and can simulate pressures and temperatures equivalent to 130 miles above the Earth. Chamber B is smaller and was the site of successful thermo-vacuum tests of the LM, using Lunar Module Test Article (LTA) 8, in May 1968. Although the chambers tested spacecraft before the Apollo fire in January 1967, the LTA-8 and 2TV-1 tests were the first conducted under safety criteria revised as a result of the accident. The primary purpose of the 2TV-1 thermo-vacuum testing was to ensure that the CM maintained the proper environment for crew and equipment in the vacuum and temperature extremes of space, as would be experienced during an Earth orbital flight. North American Rockwell Corporation in Downey, California, built the CM for the 2TV-1 tests to simulate Apollo 7’s configuration, and delivered it to MSC in April 1968. During the tests, the chamber exposed the CM to temperatures as high as 150o F using an array of brilliant carbon-arc lamps to simulate solar heating and as low as -150o F by running super cold liquid through the inner wall of the chamber. The spacecraft rested on a rotating platform to simulate how the spacecraft would rotate in a so-called “barbecue” mode on its way to the Moon to even out heating on its surface.

According to 2TV-1 test manager Robert Wren, successful completion of the thermo-vacuum test required about 700-800 full time personnel. For the 2TV-1 test NASA selected astronauts Joseph P. Kerwin as Commander, Vance D. Brand as CM Pilot and Joseph H. Engle as LM Pilot. The crew, wearing Apollo A6L space suits, entered the CM on June 16, 1968, and closed the spacecraft’s hatch. Based on lessons learned from the Apollo fire and in accordance with NASA’s decision in March 1968, the cabin’s atmosphere at the beginning of the test was a mixture of 60 percent oxygen and 40 percent nitrogen at a pressure of 16 pounds per square inch. Engineers then pumped Chamber A down to vacuum and replaced the cabin’s atmosphere with pure oxygen at five pounds per square inch, the same procedure followed in an actual spaceflight.

During the next eight days, the crew performed many of the functions as if on an actual spaceflight, including eating and sleeping. They operated guidance and navigation equipment, activated and checked out spacecraft systems and simulated engine firings. Meanwhile, chamber operators put the spacecraft through several phases of the thermo-vacuum test, beginning with a 15-hour hot soak with the arc lamps aimed at the CM, followed by a 15-hour cold soak with the lamps off. Then they aimed the lamps at the side of the Service Module for 45 hours, followed by 71 hours of alternate and contingency operations, ending with a 12-hour entry phase. The spacecraft performed very well throughout the test, with only a few minor anomalies reported. The crew egressed from the spacecraft on June 24, having spent 177 hours in the CM. Recommendations from the test resulted in 12 hardware design and 13 crew procedure changes for the Apollo 7 mission. Commander Kerwin summarized the test: “We had all the fireproof materials…in the vehicle. So we felt like we were breaking some ground and doing some necessary testing to enable the…flight of Apollo 7.” Engle added somewhat humorously: “We didn’t think of it as being quite such a monumental thing. We were kind of bored in there, actually. I think I pulled on my hunting and camping skills to living in a confined area. Being confined in a tent while it’s raining for several days, with a couple of guys, that was good training for 2TV-1.”

2TV-1 crew of Kerwin, Brand and Engle shortly after emerging from the Chamber A.

Astronauts Kerwin and Brand (left) and Engle (right) inside the CM during the 2TV-1 test.

According to MSC Structure and Mechanics Division Chief Joseph N. Kotanchik, successful completion of the 2TV-1 thermo-vacuum test was a “significant milestone in the Apollo program,” with “no constraints on proceeding with [Apollo 7].” The test brought the Moon landing goal closer to reality. n


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LANDING SITES SELECTED

LBJ’S SURPRISE VISIT TO THE MANNED SPACECRAFT CENTER

On February 8, 1968, after two years of study NASA’s Apollo Site Selection Board announced five potential landing sites for the first human lunar landing. Each of the five 3 by 5-mile landing areas, chosen from an original list of 30 candidate sites, satisfied certain criteria in which astronaut safety was paramount. All five sites were within the Apollo Zone of Interest, an area on the visible side of the Moon between 45 degrees East and West longitude and between 5 degrees North and South of the lunar equator. The sites were centered around the following coordinates:

Johnson shakes hands with a suit technician wearing a lunar Extravehicular Mobility Unit while visiting the Lunar Receiving Laboratory.

On March 1, 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson made a surprise visit to the Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC), his second as Chief Executive. NASA Administrator James Webb accompanied the President and MSC Director Robert Gilruth was their host. One purpose of his visit was to announce plans for a Lunar Science Institute to be established adjacent to the Center in the “Silver Dollar” Jim West mansion. The Institute, to be built under a grant from NASA to the National Academy of Sciences, was expected to provide closer cooperation among university, industry and government scientists to study material returned from the Moon. During his MSC visit, the President toured the recently completed Lunar Receiving Laboratory (LRL), the crew centrifuge at the Flight Acceleration Facility, and the Flight Crew Training Facility. In the LRL, the facility built to quarantine astronauts returning from lunar landing missions as well as the lunar samples, Johnson viewed the Vacuum Laboratory where Moon rocks underwent their first examination. While touring the LRL, he also saw a demonstration of the latest version of the Apollo Extravehicular Mobility Unit. The President watched astronauts James McDivitt, David Scott and Russell Schweickart, then assigned to the second manned Apollo mission, go through a 9-g launch abort profile in the crew centrifuge. Astronaut Neil Armstrong demonstrated a simulated docking of the Apollo Command Module with the Lunar Module for the President at the Crew Training Facility.

• • • • •

Site One: 34o East, 2o40” North, in the Sea of Tranquility (Mare Tranquilitatis); Site Two: 23o37” East, 0o45” North, in the Sea of Tranquility (Mare Tranquilitatis); Site Three: 1o20” West, 0o25” North, in the Central Bay (Sinus Medii); Site Four: 36o25” West, 3o30” South, in the Ocean of Storms (Oceanus Procellarum); Site Five: 41o40” West, 1o40” North, in the Ocean of Storms (Oceanus Procellarum).

To select the five areas, the Board used high-resolution orbital photography returned by five Lunar Orbiters and surface data and photographs provided by Surveyors that landed in the general area of some of the sites. The Board considered the following criteria to determine the suitability of the candidate sites:

• • • • • • •

Smoothness of the area: the sites should have relatively few craters; Approach paths: there should be no large hills, tall cliffs or deep craters which could cause incorrect altitude signals to the landing radar; Propellant: the sites were selected to allow for the expenditure of the least amount of propellant; Recycling during countdown: the sites were selected to allow for the recycling time of the Saturn 5 if the countdown were to be delayed; Free-return: the sites must be within reach of the Apollo spacecraft in the free-return trajectory, that is a path that would allow a coast around the Moon and safe return to Earth without any engine firings should a problem arise on the way to the Moon; Lighting: for optimum visibility during the landing approach, the Sun angle should be between 7 and 20 degrees behind the LM; for any given site, this results in a one-day launch window per month; Slope: the general slope of the landing area must be less than 2 degrees.

For the first lunar landing, this list would be first shortened to three before one of those would be designated as the prime landing site. The lunar landing site selection was an important step to achieving the goal of landing on the Moon before the end of the decade. n

Speaking to thousands of NASA and contractor employees after his tour, Johnson stated one reason for his visit to MSC was “to tell you, on behalf of all your countrymen…, how deeply we appreciate the great work you are carrying forward.” Recalling his political accomplishments, he added that “the one legislative accomplishment that I suppose I am proudest of is the bill that I wrote and introduced that made possible NASA, that brought into existence this great facility and others in the program throughout this Nation.” n

Two members of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission participate in a simulation of deploying and using lunar tools on the surface of the moon during a training exercise in bldg 9 on April 22, 1969. Astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin Jr. (on left), lunar module pilot, uses scoop and tongs to pick up sample. Astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, Apollo 11 commander, holds bag to receive sample. In the background is a Lunar Module mockup. Both men are wearing Extravehicular Mobility Units (EMU).

The Apollo 11 Command and Service Modules (CSM) (tiny dot near quarter sized crater, center), with astronaut Michael Collins, command module pilot, aboard. The view overlooking the western Sea of Tranquility was photographed from the Lunar Module (LM). Astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, commander, and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot, manned the LM and made their historic lunar landing on July 20, 1969. Coordinates of the center of the terrain in the photograph are 18.5 degrees longitude and .5 degrees north latitude.


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50th Anniversary: The First Man on the Moon  

A comprehensive look back on the historic U.S. flight and landing on the Moon 50 years ago on July, 20, 1969.

50th Anniversary: The First Man on the Moon  

A comprehensive look back on the historic U.S. flight and landing on the Moon 50 years ago on July, 20, 1969.

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