Its fifty years today that Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins set off from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida on board the Saturn V rocket, the most powerful rocket ever launched. The mission was to land the first man on the Moon. The Russians had already beaten the Americans to the first satellite, animal and man in space. Putting a man on another world was the next logical step. The first new world would be the moon as it was the nearest.
The rocket took off at 13:32 U.T.C. on the 16th July 1969. The journey would take just over four days with the Eagle module landing at 20:17 on the 20th July. It would not be for another six hours before Neil Armstrong finally stepped out on the moon. He would be joined by Buzz Aldrin whilst Michael Collins stayed on board the Columbia command module. The Columbia command module stayed in orbit and when Neil and Buzz had finished, they would take off from the surface of the moon and join with Columbia to return.
I wasn't born at the time of the moon landing but have told it captivated the world with people staying up to catch a glimpse of the first man on the moon. Buzz and Neil Armstrong would stay on the moon for nearly a day before they left to return to Earth. Their names would forever be etched into history.
After they returned to Earth, Neil Armstrong didn't court stardom, he went back to education, University of Cincinnati to be precise. He rarely gave interviews. He felt that by being the face of the mission, it diminished the value and effort of all the other people who took part in the objective. He did stay involved with N.A.S.A. including taking part in the investigation into the Apollo 13 incident. Later on, he would serve as part of the commission into the Challenger space disaster.
He left N.A.S.A. in 1970, he took a post at the State Department as Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs. He would only be there for a year before he moved on to become the director at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. where he would remain until 1978 when he moved to the Smithsonian Institute for two years. After leaving, he joined LTV Aerospace as a director before leaving to start his own company five years later.
Michael Collins is still alive today and has been seen giving interviews. He never went back to the moon in any capacity but never resented it, he was just pleased to have gone and made history.
The Second Man on the moon, he left NASA and returned to the Air Force where he hoped to progress his career. His career was stalled because of his celebrity status and jealousy by others. He appeared in a few television programmes including having a guest appearance in "The Big Bang Theory". He was the least camera shy of the three of them.
There would be a number of follow up mission to the moon including the ill-fated Apollo 13 when something went wrong and they had to turn back. All the passengers of the Apollo 13 returned back to Earth but none would go back in space.
The mission to put a man on the moon had been political as well as for technological reasons. The American's had been the Russians to the moon. The Russians never landed on the moon in the ensuing years.
The next race is to Mars, the red planet but the technology and equipment that is needed is many times more than what took them to the moon. The journey to the moon was eight days. The journey to Mars would take over a years. For the journey, there would need to be enough fuel and food to get them there and back.
Desktop computers now are more powerful than all the computers that were used to get to the moon in those days.
Barbara Broccoli who owns the rights to the James Bond franchise is quoted as saying more people have stepped foot on the moon than have been James Bond. If you ever wanted to be James Bond or an astronaut, your chances are better at being an astronaut...
No woman or person of colour has ever stepped foot on the moon but will have the opportunity the next time we go. Women of colour played an important role in the calcuations to get the men to the room. Their involvement was immortalised in the film 'Hidden Figures'
President Donald Trump has said he would like to get a moon base as soon as pratically possible before he wakes up and finds the Russians or the Chinese have got there.
Although you might not being going, you can have your name lasered onto a chip and sent to Mars. One day when we get to Mars, we can find those chips and see your name.
The picture below is of Buzz Aldrin on the moon, taken by Neil Armstrong. The picture has been enchanced. The copyright of the picture belongs to N.A.S.A..
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