Sunday, July 15, 2018

To the Moon and Back

Nineteen sixty-nine was quite a year. 

  • Richard Nixon was sworn in as the 37th President of the United States. 
  • The Beatles gave their last public performance.
  • Joe Namath was MVP of the Super Bowl that year, between the New York Jets and Baltimore Colts. The Jets won.
  • Golda Meir became the first woman prime minister of Israel.
  • Mario Puzzo published The Godfather.
  • An American teenager died in St. Louis of a puzzling disease, later determined to be the first case of AIDS in the US.
  • The movie Midnight Cowboy debuted.
Yeah, there was a lot going on that year, but 1969 will forever be remembered as the year man first walked on the Moon.

Back in 1961, President John F. Kennedy had proposed to Congress that Americans should aim for "landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth" by the end of the 1960s. And thus began the Apollo program.

July 16th, 1969: a Saturn V rocket launched Apollo 11 from Kennedy Space Center into Earth orbit.

After one and a half orbits, the third-stage engine pushed the spacecraft into a new trajectory, bound for the Moon.

July 19th: Apollo 11 passed behind the Moon and went into lunar orbit. They circled the Moon about thirty times, checking out their landing site in the Southern Sea of Tranquility.

Armstrong, Collins, and Aldrin
July 20th: The Lunar Module Eagle separated from the Command Module Columbia. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, in the Eagle, began their descent, reporting that they were "long"--that is, overshooting their mark a bit. They would land west of their target. Meanwhile, Mike Collins navigated Columbia in lunar orbit.

Since the landing site was strewn with boulders, Armstrong took "semi-automatic" control and landed the Eagle safely. Back in Houston, Capsule Communicator Charlie Duke said, "We copy you down, Eagle."

The Earth from space

Later Aldrin radioed Planet Earth, inviting everyone witnessing these events "to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his or her own way." Then he had a private Communion service on the Moon.

After the astronauts made their preparations for a few hours, Armstrong activated the tv camera. He began his descent down the ladder, pausing to unveil the plaque he carried: "Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon, July, 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind." After years of plans and calculations, the distance to the Moon had dwindled from about 239,000 miles to just nine steps down the ladder.

A Plaque from Planet Earth

At last Armstrong took the final step off the ladder. 

"That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind."

Click here to see footage--
sorry about whatever ads may pop up.....

About twenty minutes later, Aldrin joined Armstrong on the surface of the moon and described the scene as "Magnificent desolation."

Aldrin salutes the American flag on the Moon.

Man had long dreamed of going to the Moon, and on July 20th, 1969, Mankind made their first footprints in lunar dust.

It's been almost 50 years since Apollo 11 went to the Moon. When you think about everything that could have gone wrong -- and other forays into space would teach us more about that -- the Apollo 11 Lunar Landing is truly miraculous. After we had looked back at our own world from the Moon, our view of the universe and our place in it would never be the same.

The official patch for the Apollo 11 Mission

Man had long dreamed of going to the moon -- this comic 
image is from the French film Le voyage dans la lune.

President Nixon welcomes the astronauts home.

Photo Credits:
    Joe Namath in the '69 Super Bowl - This work is in the public domain 
        because it was published in the United States between 1978 and 
        March 1, 1989 without a copyright notice, and its copyright was 
        not subsequently registered with the U.S. Copyright Office within 5 years;
    Moonrise in the desert - Author: John Fowler from Placitas, NM, USA,
        File Upload Bot (Magnus Manske) (talk | contribs) 
        Transferred from Flickr by User:russavia;
    Saturn launch - This file is in the public domain in the United States 
         because it was solely created by NASA;
    Armstrong, Collins, and Aldrich - This file is in the public domain 
         in the United States because it was solely created by NASA;
    Earth from Space -  This file is in the public domain in the United States 
         because it was solely created by NASA;
    Plaque -  This file is in the public domain in the United States 
         because it was solely created by NASA;
    Aldrin salutes the flag - This file is in the public domain in the United States 
         because it was solely created by NASA;
    Apollo 11 Patch - This file is in the public domain in the United States 
         because it was solely created by NASA;
    La voyage dans la lune - Author: Georges Méliès;
        Public Domain: The author died in 1938, so this work is in the 
        public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas 
        where the copyright term is the author's life plus 75 years or less;
    Nixon welcomes the astronauts home - This file is in the public domain 
        in the United States because it was solely created by NASA.


  1. One of those events I would have given anything to be around for! I'm a space nut at heart. Brilliant summary - nice to see some proper photo credits!

    1. It really was awesome, Melanie. But think of the coming events you will be around for. We have barely begun to explore.

  2. Lovely, lovely. Thanks so much for this wonderful post. God was so "in" this adventure.

    1. So true. It was a divine appointment on the moon!

  3. I was around for it. I remember sitting in our small runabout on Lake Grapevine and staring up at the moon, clearly visible in the middle of the afternoon, and thinking: WOW!! They're up there, walking around, right now!! p.s. I did not know that about the AIDS patient. Time to google!

    1. Yes, Lissa. It was phenomenal. I'm so glad I got to watch. 1969 really was an interesting year.

  4. I remember many of these events as I am quite mature! Great read back through time! Thanks for pulling it all together!

    1. Thanks, Cheryl. I appreciate you stopping by my blog.