History of the 1st Moon Landing: Apollo 11–51 Years Ago

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The Mission

Eight years previously, in May of 1961, President John F. Kennedy in his special State of the Union message had uttered these galvanizing words:

Space Race

At the time Kennedy issued the challenge, the US was in the midst of a Cold War with the Soviet Union. The Soviets had already beat the US into space:

  • Luna 2: 1959, first unmanned vehicle on the moon.
  • Vostok 1: 1961, piloted by Yuri Gagarin, first human in space and first Earth orbit.

Lift Off

The journey had begun several days earlier on July 16 at Launch Pad 39A, where the massive multi-staged Saturn V rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Everyone I knew watched it.

  • At 100 miles up, it was moving at 23,000 ft/sec.
  • When it finally left earth orbit, it did so at over 2,000 mph.
  • It was moving at 11,000 feet/sec for its final maneuver.
  • Apollo 11 arrived at the moon 4 minutes ahead of schedule.

First Men on the Moon

It was hours before they left the LM to descend the ladder to the moon. During that time, Buzz Aldrin did something not widely reported, and when it was published, it was done somewhat confusingly.

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Splash Down

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USS Hornet

Silicon Valley Tech Exec: Cloud, Data Storage, Automation. Author of fascinating articles about history, tech trends, andpop culture. Blog: http://billpetro.com

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