Journey to the Moon
A famous Chinese proverb says that a “journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”. This had proven to be accurate and was even magnified when astronauts of the Apollo 11 mission landed on the moon on July 20, 1969. Neil Armstrong paraphrased this saying when he said the now-famous “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” For many people, that scene of the first humans landing on the moon was full of mixed emotions. President Kennedy’s challenge to land on the moon has been fulfilled before the decade closed. That moment also signaled the time when the US overtook Russia in the Space War. Credits, of course, were given to the men and women behind the scenes who made the risky flight possible.
But what events and circumstances lead to the eventual landing on the moon?
The Space Race
The journey to the moon is said to be the height of the space race between US and Russia. It started in 1955 and was considered officially in the running by 1957 when Sputnik I was launched.
In the previous years, NASA scientists studied the best fuel that rockets can use to propel the first astronauts to the moon. A mix of kerosene and hydrogen gas proved to be the most effective at the time. On that fateful morning of July 16, 1969, Michael Collins, Buzz Aldin, and Neil Armstrong took headed for the moon in a Saturn V rocket. This 363-foot rocket used all of its 7.5 million pounds of thrust power to send the trio into space. In no time, the crew was on Earth-orbit. After about two orbits around the Earth, the astronauts received the go signal to eject themselves toward the moon’s orbit.
On the fourth day from launch, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong headed over to the Eagle lunar landing module and began descending to the moon. Armstrong was known for being able to make decisions quickly, and this is what happened when he made improvisations when landing the lunar module in the Sea of Tranquility. When he uttered “Tranquility Base here, the Eagle has landed”, everyone cheered. The landing proved to be worthy of all the investments made by NASA and the US government.
Lunar Landing Unified the World
Everyone on Earth felt ecstatic about the first human to land on the moon. It should be noted that during the time, there was a Cold War with Russia and an active war with Vietnam. With the Apollo 11 mission being a success, everyone from all walks of life — soldiers, astronauts, doctors, lawyers, and even people in the remotest areas — who heard the words “the Eagle has landed” had happiness in their hearts. Those famous words were heard by over 530 million people with TV access at the time. It was indeed a great leap for mankind, not just for the three who made it to the moon.
Astronauts Recall Events with Fondness
When asked about their experience on the moon, Aldrin, Armstrong, and Michael Collins recalled the events with fondness. Aldrin remembered he was very particular about not locking the hatch doors. He stressed the importance of adhering to the little details in the checklist to avoid any untoward incidents. Frequent checks on the water, life-support, and electricity systems were also performed by the three astronauts.
Collins, meanwhile, found his duty of photographing and experimenting in the command module lonesome, while Aldrin and Armstrong did all the moonwalks. Later on, Collins would write in a book that the Eagle was the weirdest-looking machinery he has seen.
Neil Armstrong, meanwhile, described the moon surface as similar to desolation, but magnificent. Armstrong was given credit for his thoughtful sayings while on the moon, and when they went back to Earth, Armstrong predicted that their mission would herald a new age — which proved to be correct. Many more moon landings followed after Apollo 11.