This is the crew of Apollo 11 – Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin. Fifty years ago tonight they were somewhere close to Cape Canaveral in Florida, waiting for launch time. I wonder if they were able to go to sleep. I would have been awake all night.
Back in 1969 I was 10. I had no problem sleeping even though Wapakoneta, Ohio was a-twitter with the world watching us. My parents lived a block away from Neil’s parents. It was a huge deal!
This is the run up to the launch date. On May 20 , 1969 the Saturn V rocket started its trip to the moon using that 3.5 -mile crawler-way. The rocket weighed 6000 tons. That’s about the weight of 6000 cars.
The crawler pulled the rocket along at a speed of a mile an hour. That’s pretty fast if you imagine it pulling that stack of 6,000 cars. A Saturn V rocket was HEAVY!
Look below! That’s NASA Mission Control in Houston back in 1969. That’s what NASA engineers looked like, but not their kids, or me. We looked more like the Brady Bunch. That picture’s copyrighted so I’ll share the link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Brady_Bunch.
I also found the perfect song for 1969. It was the Age of Aquarius! Warning – music videos didn’t launch until 1981, but the song is still great. Enjoy!
The picture to the right was taken 48 years later. I was visiting NASA, and I took pictures of the things I remembered, things I thought you might be interested in. I hadn’t used any of them, till now. I hadn’t started writing NEIL ARMSTRONG’S WIND TUNNEL DREAM, but I had a blog to write.
Below is the link that started this post. ABC News was doing a feature about the 50th anniversary, and part of it featured the restoration of mission control. The only thing missing are those NASA engineers and their crew cuts. Enjoy!
This pair of pictures gives you an idea of the size of the Saturn Rocket and two pieces of the Apollo Space Module. Take a look at that first big black ring near the top of the Saturn Rocket. Everything above it is the Apollo Module that went into space.
Below it are three sets of rockets, three sets of fuel tanks. The bottom two fell into the ocean after their fuel was used up. This link might help you picture these pieces. https://www.dkfindout.com/us/space/moon-landings/saturn-v-rocket/
The top rocket and its fuel tank took Neil, Buzz, and Michael into space. Resource link: https://www.seeker.com/what-happened-to-all-the-saturn-v-rocket-stages-1768231080.html
Look below that black ring again. There are four pieces stacked on top of it. All four pieces went into space. The one on top is the Command Module. The picture beside it was taken in Houston. That module looks like it’s been to space and back. Here’s a link to help you imagine the pieces of the Apollo Capsule: https://www.dkfindout.com/us/space/moon-landings/apollo-spacecraft/
This is another photo from Houston. Do you see the Command Module at the top? That’s where the astronauts spent their time until they returned home again.
The Service Module is below it. It powered the life support systems for the crew. It made electricity to power Apollo. It also held the main rocket engine. It moved Apollo in and out of either the earth’s orbit or the moon’s. Thrusters made smaller adjustments.
Here are two trivia questions for you: Which astronaut got to be the 2nd man to walk on the moon? Which one stayed aboard the command module? Was it Neil, Buzz, or Michael? The answer – Buzz walked on the moon, and Michael kept the Command Modul in orbit so they could all go home.
Here’s question three: Did Michael ever make it to the moon? The answer – No, he didn’t. He retired from NASA a year later in 1970.
This is a model of the Lunar Module. It sat underneath the Service Module (from the picture above) in that huge Saturn V Rocket. The Lunar Module had two pieces. The ascent stage is the silver part on top, and the descent stage is the red part on the bottom.
Neil and Buzz used the red part first to power down to the moon. When they landed, they crawled out, did a little exploring, and then they left the descent module behind. It’s still there, 50 years later, sitting in that same spot on the moon.
The ascent module, the silver part, flew them back up to the Command Module orbiting the moon. It was the only piece of that huge Saturn V rocket that returned to Earth again.
Would you believe that the astronauts took pictures of each other after they separated in space? The first picture is of the Command Module orbiting the moon. It was named Columbia, and Michael Collins was all alone inside.
The picture beside it is the Lunar Module, and it’s heading for the moon. It was named the Eagle, and Neil and Buzz were inside. These are the pictures they took of each other back on July 20th, 1969.
When I write, I can only have one voice in my head, mine. A little noise is fine. But too much, or worse yet, WORDS, and I must change rooms or pull out headphones. Then I can write on!