Saturday, July 20, 2013


July 20, 2013


Houston, Texas (JFK+50) On May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy said...

"Now it is time for this nation to take a clearly leading role in space achievement.  We possess all the resources and talents necessary.

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.

No single space project will be more impressive...and none will be so difficult or expensive to a very real sense, it will not be one man going to the will be an entire nation."

             President John F. Kennedy
            House Chamber, US Capitol
                    Washington, D.C.
                         May 25, 1961

The first part of JFK's commitment was achieved 44 years ago today, July 20, 1969, when Apollo 11's Eagle landed  on the surface of the Moon with two American astronauts on board, Neil Armstrong* and Buzz Aldrin**.

The third Apollo astronaut, Michael Collins***, was at the controls of the mother ship, Columbia, which remained in lunar orbit.

After a touch and go descent, at 3:17 p.m. (CDT) Armstrong reported:

"Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed." 

This response came from Charles Duke, Capsule Communicator based here in Houston...

"Roger, Tranquility.  We copy you on the ground.  You've got a bunch of guys about to turn blue.  We're breathing again."

Later, at 9:39 p.m (CDT), Armstrong opened the hatch and began his walk down the ladder. He turned on a black and white TV camera and set his left foot on the Moon's surface.

500 million people were watching as Neil Armstrong stepped down from the ladder of the lunar module and said...

"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

      Neil Armstrong Steps onto the Moon
            NASA Photo from TV Image
                          July 20, 1969


The Moon is 2160 miles or 3476 kilometers in diameter.  Its distance from the Earth ranges from 221,830 miles or 252,898 kilometers to 357,000 miles or 407,000 kilometers.

The Moon's surface temperature ranges from a minimum of -272 degrees F. (-169 degrees C) to a maximum of 243 degrees F. (117 degrees C).  The average temperature on the Moon is 63 degrees below 0, F. (-53 degrees C).

It takes the Moon 27 days, 7 hours and 43 minutes to make one revolution.

                  Nearside of the Moon 
   From Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter 
                     NASA Photo (2011)


In 1865, more than a century before Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins, Jules Verne, a French novelist, wrote about three men who fly to the Moon from Florida in a rocket.

 In "From the Earth to the Moon", the men are shot into space by a gigantic gun (are you ready for this?) named the Columbiad.  The trio fly around the Moon before returning to Earth.

On their way back home, the Apollo 11 crew made a televised broadcast from space on July 23, 1969.  In that telecast, Neil Armstrong said...

"A hundred years ago, Jules Verne wrote a book about a voyage to the Moon.  His spaceship...took off from Florida and landed in the Pacific Ocean after completing a trip to the Moon."

            "From the Earth to the Moon"
   Illustration by Henri de Montaut (1868)


"One Small Step:  Celebrating the First Men on the Moon," by Jerry Stone, Templar Publishing, Great Britain, 2009.

"The Eagle Has Landed: Happy Anniversary, Apollo 11," by Nate Rawlings, July 20, 2011,

"Fly me to the moon
 Let me swing among the stars
 Let me see what spring is like
 On Jupiter and Mars."

"Fly Me to the Moon" was written by Paul Francis Webster and Sonny Burke.
The song was 1st recorded in 1954 by Kaye Ballard but the best known version, arranged by Quincy Jones, was recorded by Frank Sinatra in 1964.  Buzz Aldrin played it as he walked on the moon.

*Neil Armstrong (1930-2012) was born in Wapakoneta, Ohio.  He served in the US Navy in the Korean War. NA was a graduate of Purdue University and later after becoming a test pilot joined the astronaut corps in 1962. His 1st space flight was on Gemini 8 in 1966. He was Apollo 11 commander and the 1st person to walk on the moon. 

                        Neil Armstrong
                           NASA Photo

Neil Armstrong died on August 25, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio from complications of heart bypass surgery.  He was 82 years old.

                 Neil Armstrong Statue
                     Purdue University
               West Lafayette, Indiana
         Photo by Huw Williams (2008)

**Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin was born in Montclair, NJ on Jan 20, 1930. He is a graduate of West Point where he majored in mechanical engineering. BA served in Korea and flew 66 combat missions.  He joined the astronaut program in 1963.

               Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, Jr.
                           NASA Photo

***Michael Collins was born in Rome, Italy, the son of a US military officer, on October 31, 1930.  He attended West Point and joined the US Air Force.
MC was accepted to the astronaut program in 1963 and his 1st space flight came on Gemini 10.

                            Michael Collins
                                NASA Photo

On August 7, 2009, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Mike Collins were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.

           Aldrin, Collins and Armstrong
         with President Barack Obama
                   The White House
                      July 20, 2009
                Photo by Bill Ingalls

                  Aldrin Steps Off LM
                        July 20, 1969
            Photo by Neil Armstrong
                        NASA Photo

                          Aldrin Salutes Flag
                               July 20, 1969
                    Photo by Neil Armstrong
                                NASA Photo

                           Apollo 11 Patch
             Designed by Michael Collins