HOW IT ALL BEGAN
September 12, 1962. President John F. Kennedy presents the challenge to the American people in a historic speech. He wants the U.S. to take the lead in the 'space race' and send men to the moon: "We choose to go to the moon …. and do the other things not because they are easy, but because they are hard."
Yet Kennedy did not live to see the first landing on the moon. He was assassinated on November 22, 1963.
APOLLO 11The World Flies To The Moon
Join us and experience the incredible Apollo 11 mission once again. Or maybe for the first time!
WE HAVE A LIFTOFF
Thousands of journalists from 54 countries have come to witness the event, and around one million spectators are also waiting near the launch site so they can be right there to watch this amazing spectacle. Another 600 million people are following events on TV. It is the first event to have viewers right around the globe and today it still counts as one of the biggest TV events ever.
FASTER, MORE POWERFUL, THE SATURN V
The shock wave generated by the launch shatters windows within a ten-kilometer radius. The ground shakes so hard that the seismic vibrations are registered 2,000 km away. The noise exceeds 200 decibels, which makes the launch one of the loudest man-made noises in history.
THE COOLEST CREW IN THE WORLD
Edwin Eugene "Buzz" Aldrin (39), pilot of the lunar module, the Eagle. He has a doctorate in aeronautics. Unlike Armstrong, he is very communicative. He enjoys mingling with the crowd and has a reputation as a go-getter. Tragically, his mother took her own life shortly before the moon landing. Her maiden name was Marion Moon.
Michael Collins (38), pilot of the command module Columbia. He is very agreeable and relaxed. Because he has to hold out on board the mother ship while his colleagues land on the moon, he is known as the forgotten astronaut of the first mission to the moon. Fortunately he is selfless and unpretentious, and contented with his role.
THE COMMAND MODULE
The flight controls are on the left side, where mission commander Neil Armstrong is seated. The center seat is occupied by Michael Collins, pilot of the command module Columbia, and on the right sits Buzz Aldrin, pilot of the lunar module Eagle.
FASTER THAN A BULLET
Then the second stage ignites. It has enough fuel for approx. six minutes and takes the rocket to an altitude of 200 km and accelerates it to about 24,000 km/h.
Now the launch escape tower in the nose of the Saturn V is no longer required and is jettisoned. If an emergency had occurred during the launch, the astronauts would have needed it to escape from danger.
TRAVELING AT 40,000 KM/H
This tremendous speed is necessary to escape the pull of the Earth's gravitational field. The three astronauts leave their orbit around the Earth and set off for the moon.
EAGLE IS MANEUVERED OUT OF ITS "GARAGE"
The command module maneuvers towards the Eagle nose first, and docks in order to draw it free from its compartment in the lunar module adapter.
A SPACE BALLET
Buzz Aldrin: "This of course was a critical maneuver in the flight plan. If the separation and docking did not work, we would return to Earth. There was also the possibility of an in-space collision and the subsequent decompression of our cabin, so we were still in our spacesuits..."
LIVE FROM THE CAPSULE
They eat, sleep, and listen to music on a cassette recorder. And they are live on TV, for example demonstrating how to eat in zero gravity. They are in a good mood and enjoying the attention in the run-up to the great event.
NASA has calculated the chance of survival on this mission to be 93%. While on the lunar mission, the astronauts continue to receive their normal annual salary of around 20,000 dollars, which would be equivalent to around 150,000 euros today. There is no lunar bonus or danger pay.
A "CZAR" IS BORN
Edwin Eugene Aldrin adopted his nickname "Buzz" as his legal name. It came from his younger sister, who couldn't pronounce the word "brother" properly, and said "buzzer" instead. That developed into the name Buzz.
However, at NASA Aldrin gets called "Dr. Rendezvous" because he talks obsessively about rendezvous – although in his case this refers to rendezvous in space, such as docking maneuvers. This was also the topic he chose for his PhD thesis.
PULLED IN BY THE MOON
On the far side of the moon the astronauts fire the main propulsion engine to slow the Columbia down. For the first time they exclaim that the sky is "full of stars."
"TAKE IT EASY..."
Michael Collins gives his pals a piece of friendly advice: "You cats take it easy on the lunar surface."
"THE EAGLE HAS WINGS!"
They make another braking burn to slow the lunar module down and reach a lower orbit. Now the moon is within reach.
THE LONELIEST MAN IN THE UNIVERSE
At this time he is called "probably the loniest man in the universe," because every time the command module flies behind the moon he loses contact with all other human beings. Later he will recount that he did not feel lonely and actually rather enjoyed these periods of solitude!
ALARM ON THE WAY DOWN
ALARM ON THE WAY DOWN
But right now that is the least of their problems. Before touching down on the moon, they ignite the descent engine. The closer they come to the surface of the moon, the more hazardous it looks: boulders, craters, rocks ... they can't see a suitable place to land. Suddenly an alarm lights up on the navigation computer. It signals the errors 1201 and 1202.
Mission Control instructs the astronauts to ignore the error messages. Aldrin's attention is completely taken up with the alarms and talking to Mission Control. The alarm was later found to have been due to an overload of the on-board computer.
GO OR NO GO?
Under massive pressure, he has to identify a suitable landing site somewhere in this landscape of sharp rocks. There must be no damage to the Eagle's fragile, spindly legs.
Two minutes before landing he makes a decision following an old pilot's maxim: "When in doubt, land long." This means overshooting the intended landing site and staying airborne as long as possible. The instruments indicate that the fuel is down to its last 2%, enough for about 50 seconds.
"THE EAGLE HAS LANDED"
"LUNAR CONTACT" lights up in the cockpit. The landing site is Tranquility Base in the Sea of Tranquility – on the side of the moon facing the Earth. There was only enough fuel left for about another 20 seconds.
THE MOST EXPENSIVE CLOTHES IN THE WORLD
But even now, they cannot hurry out onto the lunar surface. Just putting their spacesuits on takes several hours. The suits are surely the most expensive clothes in the world. They consist of 21 different layers of rubber, neoprene and synthetic fibers – and all of it meticulously sewn together by hand.
This obviously comes at a price: each suit costs 100,000 U.S. dollars, which would be roughly 603,000 euros today.
THE "CZAR" STEPS OUT
The lunar surface has a very fine and powdery appearance. Is it safe to set foot on the moon? He tests the surface a couple of times using the toe of his boot. And then he takes his epic "small step."
A FOOTPRINT THAT WILL LAST FOREVER
Armstrong weighs 180 kilograms with his spacesuit and backpack. But because the gravity on the moon is only one sixth of that on the Earth, his effective weight is only about 30 kilograms.
Later he will report that, "… after landing we felt very comfortable in the lunar gravity. It was, in fact, in our view preferable both to weightlessness and to the Earth's gravity."
Armstrong and Aldrin spend the next two hours inspecting the lunar module, setting up scientific equipment and taking samples from the moon's surface.
They "unveil" a commemorative stainless-steel plaque fixed to a strut behind the descent ladder. It bears an inscription emphasizing the peaceful nature of the Apollo mission: "We Came In Peace For All Mankind".
CONGRATULATIONS FROM THE WHITE HOUSE
For Nixon it is the most historic call ever made from the Oval Office. He stresses how proud everyone is of the astronauts and that they have made the heavens "part of man's world."
However, the president forgets to mention Michael Collins, who is waiting for his two colleagues in the Columbia.
MESSAGES TO THE UNIVERSE
FIRST LUNAR INSPECTION
One of the measuring instruments on board is a laser retroreflector made of high-tech quartz glass, invented by the Heraeus Group in Hanau, West Germany. The device remains on the moon to this day and enables very precise measurements of the distance between the Earth and the moon. It is 384,000 kilometers on average.
Apart from that, they have stuffy noses – like hay fever, they say. Fortunately they have medication developed especially for the lunar mission – from the German state of Hesse. The on-board medical kit has included a nasal spray from the firm Merck ever since the Apollo 7 crew all came down with heavy colds.
A LUNAR HIGH
They have collected 21 kg of moonrocks and soil, and taken around 100 photos. They do not feel exhausted – instead they are on a high.
But there are lots of jobs waiting for them in the Eagle. The samples have to be stowed away and there is a host of other important things to do before the astronauts can take their rest as planned.
Their first meal after walking on the moon consists of ham sandwiches and slices of dried fruit.
"LIKE A FIVE-YEAR-OLD BOY IN A CANDY STORE"
Aldrin then curls up on the floor, while Armstrong lies down on the ascent engine cover in the rear of the cabin. But the lunar module's equipment is making too much noise. To add to this, the shades on the windows don't stop light from streaming into the module. And the damp coldness in their spacesuits doesn't make things any easier for them.
Aldrin manages two hours of fitful sleep but Armstrong gets none at all. Later, back on the Earth, Armstrong reports, "The primary difficulty was just far too little time to do the variety of things we would have liked. We had the problem of the five-year-old boy in a candy store." After a quick breakfast, the pair set about preparing for take-off and their rendezvous with Michael Collins in the Columbia.
THE WORLD IS WAITING
They dock behind the moon, cut off from Mission Control. Armstrong and Aldrin climb through to the command module. The Eagle is cast adrift and left to crash on the surface of the moon. Some hardware from the Apollo mission remains on the moon to this day.
COLLINS DIDN'T SEE ANYTHING
The three astronauts set off for home. They have a lot to talk about.
Neil Armstrong's favorite music
Lunar Rhapsody - Les Baxter 'Music out of the Moon'
HOUSTON, WE'RE GOING TO SLEEP
The closer they get to Earth, the faster the capsule flies. The Earth's gravitational field is pulling the Columbia in with increasing speed.
TOO HOT TO TALK
Re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere causes a blackout – the capsule cannot communicate. The heat generated by atmospheric friction results in an envelope of hot, ionized air surrounding the capsule, preventing all radio contact.
THE WORLD HAS A SPLASHDOWN
SUPERHEROES IN QUARANTINE
But President Nixon does not miss the opportunity to welcome the astronauts aboard the USS Hornet right after their landing. They are initially confined to a Mobile Quarantine Facility, before being transferred to NASA's Lunar Receiving Lab.
MEN FROM THE MOON GO ON WORLD TOUR
Their tragedy is that they will never again be allowed to take part in an Apollo mission, because such great heroes should not be exposed to any more risks.
FROM ASTRONAUTS TO AMIGOS
THE MOON IS WAITING
The Apollo program had many critics. They said it was too expensive and did not generate enough scientific benefit. By the time the program ended, it had cost 24 billion dollars – the equivalent of over 100 billion dollars today – and employed a total of up to 400,000 people.
Graphics and Design:
Justus von der Handt
Justus von der Handt
Dr.-Ing. Christian Gritzner
German Aerospace Center (DLR)
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