July 16, 2012
Apollo 11 Remembered 43 Years Later
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Forty-three years ago today, man embarked on a mission that made Lewis and Clark's journey across America seem like child's play, as Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins set forth towards the Moon.
On July 16, 1969, at 9:32 EDT, Saturn V's engines fired up and the countdown beat down to zero as the three astronauts took hold of their position in the history books that could never be replaced.
The call to arms began on May 25, 1961 when President John F. Kennedy set up a national goal to be the first nation to put man on the Moon.
"I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth," Kennedy said as he spoke before the United States Congress in 1961.
Since then, not only was America the first, but it has remained the only nation.
The Apollo 11 mission was the cornerstone in which NASA's worldwide reputation was built, effectively ending the "Space Race" with the Soviet Union, and commanding the attention of the entire planet.
Back at the launch moment, the astronauts all knew what the implications of their mission was, so I'm sure many thoughts were playing inside their heads as they felt the vibration of the rocket underneath them.
It took only one minute for the Saturn V to reach Mach 1 speed, and only 12 minutes for that fiery rocket to send the astronauts into orbit.
The three men orbited Earth one-and-a-half times, using the Earth's gravity to help swing them into the proper trajectory towards the Moon.
It took four days for the Lunar Module to finally reach the Moon's surface, but that is a story that will be continued here on redOrbit on Friday.