Houston, Texas (JFK+50) President John F. Kennedy's vision of landing a man on the moon was achieved forty-five years ago today, July 20, 1969, when astronauts Neil Armstrong* and Buzz Aldrin** touched down on the lunar surface.
JFK's goal, set in May 1961, was to "land a man on the moon and return him safely to the earth" before the end of the decade.
With astronaut Michael Collins*** at the controls of the mother ship Columbia in lunar orbit, Armstrong and Aldrin descended to the surface of the moon aboard Eagle.
At 3:17 p.m., Central Daylight Time, 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), Neil Armstrong opened the hatch and began his walk down the ladder. He turned on a TV camera and set his left foot on the moon's surface.
Five hundred million people were watching as he stepped down from the ladder of the lunar module and said...
"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."
Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) On May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy set the goal for landing a man on the moon before the end of the decade.
The President 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 accomplish...but...in a very real sense, it will not be one man going to the moon...it will be an entire nation."
"Fly me to the moon
Let me swing among the stars
Let me see what spring is like
On Jupiter and Mars"****
The moon is 2160 miles in diameter. Its distance from the Earth ranges from 221,830 miles to 357,000 miles.
The moon's surface temperature ranges from a minimum of -272 degrees F. to a maximum of 243 degrees F. The average temperature on the moon is 63 degrees below 0, F.
It takes the orb 27 days, 7 hours and 43 minutes to make one revolution.
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 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."
"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, www.newsfeed.time.com/
**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.
Buzz served in Korea and flew 66 combat missions. He joined the astronaut program in 1963.
***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.