July 20, 2012
Remembering Apollo: Lunar Landing 43 Years Later
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
For thousands of years, man would sit up at night and look deeply at the stars for both thought provoking science, and just pure entertainment.
It wasn't until the 1600s that telescopes were invented, and even then they were staring at objects that were unattainable. The moon was the closest object in man's sight, yet it still seemed untouchable.
However, all that would change in 1969, when Apollo 11 set off to place man onto a new path, and explore unearthly boundaries.
Monday marked the 43rd anniversary that Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins shot off from our blue sphere, and made their way towards history.
As the next days developed, what was once so far away became closer and closer, and the Earth, their home, moved farther and farther. As the moon became larger in their sights, it was probably still something that seemed untouchable. One of those things that even in the midst of it happening is not able to be fully grasped until fully tangible.
Forty-three years ago from today, the moon indeed became tangible, as the three astronauts landed on the moon for the first time in human history.
In just 55-years since Henry Ford invented the Model T, man created a machine that was capable of launching someone from Earth, and send them to the moon.
Those who grew up after 1969 probably have dreamed about being able to walk on the moon, and envisioned what it would be like, but for astronauts on the Apollo program, it wasn't a childish imagination, but an evolving reality.
On July 20, 1969, the lunar module Eagle separated from the command module Columbia, leaving Collins on board, and a descent began that would change the way man saw the moon in the night sky. It no longer seemed like another piece of the night sky puzzle, but an attainable object.
The descent was not without its problems, with alarms going off, but Armstrong was able to take down Eagle with semi-automatic control, as Aldrin was calling out altitude and velocity data, with just about 25 seconds of fuel left once landed.
It was through talented piloting, and with instincts that only a trained astronaut could have, that the famous words were spoken: "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed."
Charles Duke, acting as CAPCOM during the landing phase, responded after a few silent seconds: "Roger, Twan -- Tranquility, we copy you on the ground. You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We're breathing again. Thanks a lot."
The rest of the story will be remembered on redOrbit tomorrow, the anniversary of the day that everything the Apollo missions are known for took place.