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    Apollo 11
     
    Today marks the 40th anniversary of the first manned landing moon in July 1969. While 600 million people watched on TV, Neil Alden Armstrong stepped from the LM, and set foot in the dust of Mare Tranquillitatis. The Apollo moon landings were one of the greatest achievement in human history, and have been an inspiration to all mankind for the last 40 years.|Read More|


    Launch and lunar landing

    A Saturn V launched Apollo 11 from the Kennedy Space Center on July 16, 1969 at 13:32 UTC (9:32 a.m. local time). It entered orbit 12 minutes later. After one and a half orbits, the S-IVB third-stage engine pushed the spacecraft onto its trajectory toward the Moon with the Trans Lunar Injection burn. About 30 minutes later the command/service module pair separated from this last remaining Saturn V stage and docked with the lunar module still nestled in the Lunar Module Adaptor.

    On July 19 Apollo 11 passed behind the Moon and fired its engine to enter lunar orbit. In the thirty orbits that followed, the crew saw passing views of their landing site in the southern Sea of Tranquility. The landing site was selected because it was relatively flat and smooth and unlikely to present major landing or extra-vehicular activity (EVA) challenges. On July 20, 1969 the lunar module (LM) Eagle separated from the command module Columbia. Collins, alone aboard Columbia, inspected Eagle through the LM window to ensure the craft was not damaged.

    As the descent began, Armstrong and Aldrin found that they were passing landmarks on the surface 4 seconds early and reported they were "long". This meant they would land several miles west of their target point. When Armstrong again looked outside, he saw that the proposed landing site was in a boulder strewn area just north and east of a 400 meter diameter crater. Armstrong took semi-automatic control and with Aldrin calling out altitude and velocity data, landed at 20:17 UTC on July 20 with just 25 seconds of fuel left.

    Then Armstrong said the famous words, "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed." Armstrong's abrupt change of call sign from "Eagle" to "Tranquility Base" caused momentary confusion at Mission Control. Charles Duke, acting as CAPCOM during the landing phase, acknowledged their landing, expressing the relief of Mission Control after the unexpectedly drawn-out descent.


    Lunar surface operations

    At 02:56 UTC on July 21st 1969, Armstrong made his descent to the Moon's surface and spoke his famous line "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" exactly six and a half hours after landing. Despite some technical and weather difficulties, ghostly black and white images of the first lunar EVA were received and broadcast to at least 600 million people on Earth.

    Aldrin joined him on the surface and tested methods for moving around, including two-footed kangaroo hops. The PLSS backpack created a tendency to tip backwards, but neither astronaut had serious problems maintaining balance. Loping became the preferred method of movement. The astronauts reported that they needed to plan their movements six or seven steps ahead. The fine soil was quite slippery.

    After the astronauts planted a U.S. flag on the lunar surface, they spoke with President Richard Nixon through a telephone-radio transmission which Nixon called "the most historic phone call ever made from the White House." They deployed the EASEP, which included a passive seismograph and a laser ranging retroreflector. Then Armstrong loped about 120 m (400 ft) from the LM to snap photos at the rim of East Crater while Aldrin collected two core tubes. The astronauts then collected rock samples using scoops and tongs on extension handles. Many of the surface activities took longer than expected, so they had to stop documented sample collection halfway through.


    Lunar ascent and return

    Aldrin entered Eagle first, and after transferring to LM life support the explorers lightened the ascent stage for return to lunar orbit by tossing out their PLSS backpacks, lunar overshoes, a camera, and other equipment. They then repressurised the LM, and settled down to sleep.

    While moving in the cabin Aldrin accidentally broke the circuit breaker that armed the main engine for lift off. There was initial concern this would prevent firing the engine, which would have stranded them on the moon. Fortunately a felt-tip pen was sufficient to activate the switch. Had this not worked, the Lunar Module circuitry could have been reconfigured to allow firing the ascent engine.

    After about seven hours of rest, they were awakened by Houston to prepare for the return flight. Two and a half hours later, at 17:54 UTC, they lifted off in Eagle's ascent stage, carrying 21.5 kilograms of lunar samples and film with them, to rejoin CMP Michael Collins aboard Columbia in lunar orbit. After rendezvous with Columbia, Eagle's ascent stage was jettisoned into lunar orbit at July 21, 1969 at 23:41. Later NASA reports mentioned that Eagle's orbit had decayed resulting in it impacting in an "uncertain location" on the lunar surface.

    On July 23, the three astronauts made a television broadcast on the last night before splashdown. Collins commented, "The Saturn V rocket which put us in orbit is an incredibly complicated piece of machinery, every piece of which worked flawlessly. We have always had confidence that this equipment will work properly. All this is possible only through the blood, sweat, and tears of a number of a people. All you see is the three of us, but beneath the surface are thousands and thousands of others, and to all of those, I would like to say, Thank you very much..."

    On July 24, the astronauts splashed down in the Pacific Ocean 2,660 km east of Wake Island, or 380 km south of Johnston Atoll, and 24 km from the recovery ship, USS Hornet. After recovery by helicopter approximately one hour after splashdown, the astronauts were placed in an Airstream trailer that had been designed as a temporary quarantine facility for their transport back to the Lunar Receiving Laboratory. President Richard Nixon was aboard the recovery vessel to personally welcome the astronauts back to Earth.

    The astronauts were placed in quarantine after their landing on the moon due to fears that the moon might contain undiscovered pathogens, and that the astronauts may have been exposed to them during their moon walks (this was in accordance with the recently passed Extra-Terrestrial Exposure Law). However, after almost three weeks in confinement, the astronauts were given a clean bill of health. On August 13, 1969, the astronauts exited quarantine to the cheers of the American public. Parades were held in their honour in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles on the same day.

    Image Gallery

    Source: Wikipedia.org - Apollo 11

    Further reading:
    1)clavius.org - Moon landing conspiracy theorists debunked
    2)bbc.co.uk - Moonlandings Archive
    3)Popularmechanics.com - Apollo 11 The Untold Story
    4)moon.arounder.com - Virtual Moon Tours
    5)Nasa.gov - Apollo




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    Posted on Monday, July 20 @ 20:17:40 MDT by sonicbom
     
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