Category The First Men on the Moon


Stephen Koenig Armstrong and Viola Louise Engel were married on 8 October 1929, and their son Neil Alden Armstrong was born on 5 August 1930 on his maternal


Подпись: Neil ArmstrongOn 10 January 1969 Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong and Mike Collins pose in front of a mockup of the LM at the Manned Spacecraft Center following their first press conference as the crew of Apollo 11.

grandmother’s farm, some 6 miles from the small town of Wapakoneta, Ohio. The Armstrong family hailed from the border country of Scotland, and the Engels from Germany. As an auditor, Stephen Armstrong was constantly travelling the state (it took about a year to audit the books for a county) setting up temporary home in a succession of small towns. June was born in 1932, and Dean 19 months later. Neil was a non-conformist, spending his time playing the piano and voraciously reading books. He developed an early passion for flying, and by 9 years of age he was building his own model aircraft. “They had become, I suppose, almost an obsession with me,’’ he later reflected. He read everything he could lay his hands on about aviation, filling notebooks with miscellany.

When Neil was 14, the family settled in Wapakoneta (although born nearby, he had not actually lived there). The money from out-of-school jobs, initially stocking shelves at 40 cents per hour in a hardware store, and later working at a pharmacy, helped to pay for flying lessons at $9 each. He gained his student pilot’s licence on his sixteenth birthday, but had not yet felt the need for a driver’s licence. It was apparent that he would need a technical education if he was to become a professional pilot, but the family did not have the resources to send him through college. Although he was not specifically interested in military aviation, the Navy offered scholarships for university in return for time in service afterwards. Neil applied, and in 1947 was accepted. On the advice of a high school teacher, he went to Purdue University in Indiana because it had a strong aeronautical engineering school. After he had been there 18 months, the Navy – as it was entitled to do – interrupted his studies and sent him to Pensacola in Florida for flight training. He opted for single-seat rather than multi-engine aircraft because he “didn’t want to be responsible for anyone else’’ by having a crew. The Korean War broke out on 25 June 1950 and he gained his ‘wings’ soon thereafter. In view of the situation, his return to college was deferred and he was sent to the West Coast for additional training. In mid-1951 he was sent to the USS Essex to fly F9F Panthers with Fighter Squadron 51, one of the early ‘all jet’ carrier squadrons. Although he had been trained for air combat, most of his missions were low-level strikes against bridges, trains and armour. On 3 September 1951 he flew so low that he struck a cable and damaged one wing, but was able to nurse his stricken aircraft back over friendly lines before ejecting. In all, he flew 78 combat missions.

In early 1952 he returned to the USA. Rather than attend a military academy in order to receive a commission, he resigned from the Navy and resumed his studies at Purdue, where he met fellow student Janet Elizabeth Shearon. He was then 22 and she was 18; her father was a physician in Welmette, Illinois, and Janet was the youngest of three sisters. On graduating in 1955 with a degree in aeronautical engineering, he was recruited as a research pilot at the High-Speed Flight Station operated by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics at Edwards Air Force Base in the high desert of the San Gabriel mountains of California. On his drive west, Neil detoured to Wisconsin, where Janet was working, to ask her to marry him; she agreed to think it over. They were married on 28 January 1956, and their first home was a small cabin with neither electricity nor running water, off base among the Joshua trees and rattlesnakes of the Juniper Hills. This was ‘‘the most fascinating time of my life,” Armstrong later reflected. “I had the opportunity to fly almost every kind of high-performance airplane, and at the same time to do research in aerodynamics.” The X-15 was a sleek black rocket-powered aircraft which, in a zooming climb following release from a B-52, was able to rise above the bulk of the atmosphere. Armstrong first flew the X-15 in I960, and in all he tested the aircraft seven times. His highest altitude was 207,000 feet, but this did not set a record. However, “above 200,000 feet, you have essentially the same view you’d have from a spacecraft when you are above the atmosphere. You can’t help thinking, by George, this is the real thing. Fantastic!’’ Armstrong helped in the development of the advanced flight control system for the vehicle. Like many at Edwards Air Force Base, he felt that the route into space would be by ever faster aircraft. When a NASA recruiter arrived at Edwards seeking Project Mercury ‘astronauts’ to ride in a ‘capsule’ that would parachute into the ocean, Armstrong was not interested. ‘‘We reckoned we were more involved in space flight research than the Mercury people, but after John Glenn orbited Earth three times in a little less than 5 hours on 22 February 1962, we began to look at things a bit differently.” In April 1962 NASA sought its second intake of astronauts. The first group had all been military test pilots. Although test pilot experience was still a requirement, civilians were now allowed to apply. Candidates had to have a college degree in an engineering subject, be no taller than 6 feet, and not exceed 35 years of age at the time of selection. Armstrong was blond, blue eyed, 165 pounds, 5 feet 11 inches tall, and had a few years to spare. He submitted his application. Of all the civilian applicants, he had by far the greatest experience. On 17 September he was announced as one of nine new astronauts. By the end of the year, the Armstrongs had relocated to El Lago, a housing development near the Manned Spacecraft Center at Clear Lake, which, being neither a lake nor clear, was an alluvial mud flat on Galveston bay about 30 miles from Houston.

Although about the same age as his group, Armstrong looked much younger. He did not match the popular image of an astronaut as a hard-drinking, adrenaline – primed partier. In fact, he was notable for not jogging or doing pushups (which the others did eagerly in pursuit of physical fitness) and his social life was spent with his family.

Each astronaut ‘tracked’ some aspect of the space program to ensure that the astronauts’ points of view were represented, and to report back in order to enable the astronaut office to be aware of everything that was going on. While a civilian research test pilot at Edwards, Armstrong had been involved in the development of new flight simulators, whereas military test pilots merely used them. It was logical, therefore, that he should be assigned to monitor the development of trainers and simulators.

Deke Slayton opted to fly the military pilots of the second group ahead of the civilians. After jointly backing up Gemini 5 Armstrong and Elliot See were given separate assignments, with Armstrong commanding Gemini 8 and See commanding Gemini 9. On 16 March 1966 Armstrong and Dave Scott were launched into orbit and, after a perfect rendezvous with an Agena target vehicle, they achieved the first docking between vehicles in space. Unfortunately, several minutes later, and now in

The Apollo 11 crew

On 9 April 1959 NASA announced the recruitment of its first group of astronauts: (left to right, seated) Leroy Gordon Cooper Jr, Virgil Ivan ‘Gus’ Grissom, Malcolm Scott Carpenter, Walter Marty Schirra Jr, John Herschel Glenn Jr, Alan Bartlett Shepard Jr and Donald Kent ‘Deke’ Slayton.

On 17 September 1962 the second group was announced: (left to right, standing) Edward Higgins White II, James Alton McDivitt, John Watts Young, Elliot McKay See Jr, Charles ‘Pete’ Conrad Jr, Frank Frederick Borman II, Neil Alden Armstrong, Thomas Patten Stafford and James Arthur Lovell Jr.

On 17 October 1963 NASA announced its third group of astronauts: (left to right, standing) Michael Collins, Ronnie Walter Cunningham, Donn Fulton Eisele, Theodore Cordy Freeman, Richard Francis Gordon Jr, Russell Louis ‘Rusty’ Schweickart, David Randolph Scott and Clifton Curtis Williams; (seated) Edwin Eugene ‘Buzz’ Aldrin Jr, William Alison Anders, Charles Arthur Bassett II, Alan LeVern Bean, Eugene Andrew Cernan and Roger Bruce Chaffee.

Buzz Aldrin 9

darkness, the docked combination became unstable. Thinking that the fault must be associated with the Agena they undocked, only to find themselves in an accelerating spin owing to the fact that one of their thrusters was continuously firing. By the time the rate of spin had reached one rotation per second, ‘tunnel vision’ had set in and a black-out was imminent, but Armstrong was able to regain control by shutting off the primary attitude control system and switching to the thrusters designed for use during atmospheric re-entry, which in turn necessitated an emergency return, which was carried out successfully.

At the time of Apollo 11, the Armstrong family comprised Neil and Jan, and sons Ricky, aged 12, and Mark, 6.


Because the astronauts who landed on the Moon would be required to act as field geologists, a series of lectures and laboratory exercises were given in 1964 by the US Geological Survey (USGS) in a ramshackle shed of Second World War vintage at Ellington Air Force Base, which served as the airport for the Manned Spacecraft Center. On being introduced to the vocabulary of geology and basic mineralogy, the astronauts were taught how to describe rocks and to characterise a geological setting in terms of the granularity and bearing strength of its surface. Some of the astronauts – mainly those of the first group who were still active,[10] but also some of the second group – argued that there was no requirement for such training because the rocks they returned would be studied by the scientists. But other members of the second group and most of the third group, aware that they were unlikely to be assigned the first landing, looked ahead to the later missions on which science was certain to be a significant factor and reasoned that by taking the subject seriously they would improve their chances of a flight assignment.

The first geology field trip was to the Grand Canyon, incised into the Arizona Plateau by the Colorado River to a depth of some 6,000 feet. Viewing the strata exposed in the canyon wall was undoubtedly awe inspiring, but most of it was sedimentary and (the nomenclature for the lunar features notwithstanding) there were no rivers on the Moon. Later trips included Meteor Crater in Arizona, which seemed more relevant because the Moon was pocked by craters. Since there was at that time no consensus as to whether lunar craters were formed by impacts or by volcanism, trips were also made to a wide variety of volcanic features across the American southwest. Jack Schmitt, who joined NASA in 1965 as one of the first group of scientist-astronauts, and had a doctorate in geology from Harvard, was assigned to assist in geological training. He encouraged Armstrong and Aldrin to find time to make field trips. At a volcanic field near Cinder Lake in Arizona, the Astrogeology Branch of the USGS blasted a simulated lunar landscape based on a picture of a potential landing site taken by a Lunar Orbiter. Geologists then made ‘traverses’ wearing training space suits to evaluate procedures, test the tools that the astronauts were to employ, and determine what could reasonably be done in the time

Using a mockup of the LM hatch, porch and upper ladder. Buzz Aldrin undergoes one-sixth gravity training in a KC-135 on 10 July 1969Г

available to the first moonwalk. A crude LM was constructed as a perch from which to make visual observations. On his Mercury mission, Wally Schirra had been given an off-the-shelf Hasselblad 500C camera manufactured by the Victor Hasselblad Company in Sweden. NASA later asked the company to supply it with a modified version. The mechanism had to be capable of 5,000 ‘working cycles’ in Earth’s atmosphere, in pure oxygen, and in a vacuum; accommodate a magazine with a capacity of 160 exposures of 70-millimetre ‘thin’ film; and incorporate an electric motor to advance the film.[11] This camera was introduced on Gemini, and carried over to Apollo. The geologists conducted tests using a Hasselblad 500EL Data Camera configured for use by a suited astronaut, notably with its view sight deleted. The results were studied to determine how much of what was known of the terrain could be inferred from just the visual observations and photographs. The trials, conducted early in 1968, were led by Arnold Brokaw, chief of the surface planetary exploration section of the Astrogeology Branch. The conclusions were fed to Houston by Eugene M. Shoemaker, the branch chief, who was seconded to NASA. Shortly prior to the mission, Brokaw visited Armstrong to emphasise the value of photographing rocks, irrespective of whether these were sampled: ‘‘ft is important to us how a rock got where it is, how and where it lay, how it relates to other things in the area; we can determine a lot about its mineralogy simply from photographs.” Aldrin was inspired by geology, because it ‘‘opened my eyes to the immensity of time’’. Collins was not, ‘‘f hate geology – maybe that’s why they won’t let me get out on the Moon.’’ Armstrong, displaying an impishness worthy of Pete Conrad, later admitted that he had been ‘‘very tempted to sneak a piece of limestone up’’ and place it into a rock box as a sample, to see what the scientists would make of it.

The training for lunar surface activities was undertaken in Building 9 of the Manned Spacecraft Center campus, where there was a mockup LM. The astronauts suited up and donned all the extravehicular paraphernalia and, while attended by technicians from the crew systems division and the suppliers of the miscellaneous apparatus, they tested egress and ingress procedures, surface sampling tools, and the deployment of the scientific packages. The scientific community wanted the maximum work from Armstrong and Aldrin while they were on the lunar surface. Each task was timed during training, and integrated into the overall time line. A significant milestone was attained on 18 June 1969 by a full ‘walk through’ which included deploying the EASEP instruments. However, while the technical fidelity was high, this training was done in full Earth gravity. To familiarise themselves with lunar gravity – which is one-sixth that of Earth – the astronauts flew in a KC-135 aircraft (the military version of the Boeing 707) with its cabin deck cleared and padded. This aircraft would fly a precise arc, zooming, cresting and falling in order to simulate the desired gravitational load. During the climb the suited astronaut was held in position by technicians, and when the desired gravity was reached he had to

Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin rehearse ‘documented’ (photographed) sampling using a scoop, a gnomon and individual sample bags.

Buzz Aldrin, having deployed the SWC.

Neil Armstrong starts to deploy the LRRR.

Buzz Aldrin documents the site with a panoramic sequence around the horizon.

The simulation over, Neil Armstrong prepares to ascend the ladder.

set up, conduct the test and then be restrained once more against the load of three gravities as the aircraft pulled out of its dive. The cabin was voluminous, but with technicians, film crew and Air Force supervisors lending assistance it soon became crowded. The aircraft would make several dozen arcs over a period of hours, flying a roller-coaster path through the sky. Inevitably someone would vomit.3 While this training was valuable, the fact that it simulated lunar gravity for no more than 30 seconds per time meant that it was possible only to test specific tasks, such as using a pair of tongs to lift a rock and pop it into a bag. To rehearse long sequences of tasks, systems using cables and pulleys were built – in some cases with the astronaut operating at an angle against a tilted surface. As Armstrong observed of these ‘Peter Pan’ rigs: ‘‘You had the feeling of being able to jump very high – a very light feeling. You also had the feeling that things were happening slowly, which indeed they were. It was a sort of floating sensation.’’ On the other hand, he was confident, ‘‘The lunar setting will become a very easy place to work, I think.’’


Collins terminated the orbital rate and adopted an inertial attitude to undertake the P52 platform alignment in preparation for the forthcoming LOI-2 manoeuvre. As a contingency against a total loss of communications, McCandless read up the data for two transearth injection manoeuvres: one in case the LOI-2 burn failed to occur, and the other in case it succeeded and contact was then lost. In both eventualities, the LM would be ditched prior to leaving orbit.

Meanwhile, it had been found that the anomalous decrease in the pressure in the nitrogen tank of Bank-B during the LOI-1 burn had occurred only while the system was active, which prompted the speculation that it was merely a thermal effect that made the orifice of the solenoid valve open wider on Bank-B than on Bank-A, thereby increasing the nitrogen flow rate (in other words, there was no external leak). The engine could be operated in single-bank mode; the dual-bank mode was to provide redundancy against one bank failing and shutting down the SPS. As the pressure of the nitrogen tank in Bank-B was now stable and was well above the ‘red line’ value of 400 psi (below which it would be incapable of holding the propellant feed valves open), it was decided to conserve this tank in order to retain redundancy against the total loss of Bank-A. McCandless relayed the decision to make the LOI-2 burn in single-bank mode using Bank-A, then as they approached the limb he gave the formal go-ahead to attempt the burn. The attitude of the spacecraft placed them ‘heads down’ in order to point the sextant towards space, and once they were on the far side Collins took a star sighting on Denebola to confirm their attitude.

When Apollo 8 and Apollo 10 had executed LOI-2, they had entered more or less circular orbits at 60 nautical miles. However, when the time came to perform the transearth injection manoeuvre, the gravitational perturbations of the mascons had transformed their paths into ellipses ranging between 54 and 66 nautical miles. Although this did not compromise Apollo 8’s objectives, if a landing had been tried on Apollo 10, the ground track would have been displaced several miles from that intended. In the case of Apollo 11, however, it was essential for Eagle to fly on course and, for the rendezvous, for Columbia to be waiting in as circular an orbit as possible. On the previous missions, the longitude of perilune induced by the perturbations had been about 100°E. The flight dynamics team had calculated that if the post-LOI-2 orbit were to have a given ellipticity and a perilune at 85°W, the mascons would tend to circularise the orbit. The option of having Columbia fire its engine to recircularise its orbit shortly prior to rendezvous was dismissed as a waste of propellant. Furthermore, it was arranged that as the Moon slowly rotated on its axis, the plane of the spacecraft’s orbit would drift such that when Eagle made its descent its ground track would intersect the landing site. At the time of the LOI-2 manoeuvre the combined mass of the vehicles was 71,622 pounds. The 17-second burn was to start at 080:11:36, and achieve a retrograde delta-V of 159.2 feet per second for a spacecraft velocity of 5,364 feet per second in order to revise the orbit to 53.7 by 65.7 nautical miles.

As they waited, they entered sunlight, and Collins noticed lots of little bright spots on the LM reflecting the light. ‘‘The poor old LM’s contaminated – it’s got urine particles all over it! By the way the light’s shining, they look yellow. You know, I guess everything else has boiled off and it’s left a little solid deposit.’’

‘‘Wait until the ‘forward contamination’ people hear about that!’’ said Aldrin. ‘‘There will be no more urine dumps on the way to the Moon; those fellows will have to store it all in a nice little bag.’’

Ignition was precisely on time. Collins was timing it using a stopwatch, and if the engine did not shut down on time they would intervene. Even a 2-second over run would slow them sufficiently to cause their trajectory to dip dangerously close to the surface during the near-side pass, but cutoff was as planned. Armstrong asked the computer for the new orbital parameters. “66.1 by 54.4 – you can’t beat that!”

“That’s about as close as you’re going to get,’’ Collins agreed.

With the spacecraft in a 2-hour orbit, Mission Control would receive telemetry for about 75 minutes. This was more than 50 per cent of the orbital period because, at an altitude of about 60 nautical miles, the vehicle was in line of sight for several minutes beyond the 90-degree angle as measured from the centre of the lunar disk.

As before, Armstrong initiated a 180-degree roll, as a preliminary to resuming a pitched-down attitude.

“While this thing’s rolling over, I’m going to take a pee,’’ Collins announced. On venting the urine to space, he pondered how long it would take before its orbit decayed and it struck the surface – more contamination of the lunar environment! As Armstrong began the pitch manoeuvre, Collins noted that they had missed out on a long-lens picture of Earthrise the first time around, and had been too busy the second time. “Gee, it’s too bad that we can’t stop right here and observe the Earth come up.’’

“We probably can do it, if we stop it right here,’’ Armstrong noted. “That is, if you want to spend the gas.’’

“That’s the only trouble,’’ Collins mused, “the doggone gas.’’

“Why don’t we stop it?’’ prompted Aldrin.

“Okay!’’ said Collins.

Armstrong decided to adopt an inertial attitude that would put Earthrise in one of the windows and also enable the high-gain antenna to lock on. In commanding the manoeuvre, he selected the wrong direction. “Oh, son of a gun!’’ he chuckled. “We are going backwards. Oh, well.’’

“Dummkopf!’’ said Aldrin.

“Neil, pitch down,” encouraged Collins.

“Prior planning prevents poor performance,’’ recited Aldrin.

“Is that right, Buzz?’’ asked Armstrong.

“Where’d you ever hear that one, Buzz?’’ Collins demanded.

“I can’t think,’’ said Aldrin.

A few minutes later, Collins exclaimed, “Here’s the Earth. Hey, I’ve got the view over here.’’

John McLeaish, who had taken over as the Public Affairs Officer, informed the waiting world that both Goldstone and Hawaii had acquired Apollo 11 on time, an indication that the burn had gone to plan. During the far-side passage, the shift had changed in Mission Control. Although Milton Windler’s Maroon Team had taken the White Team’s slot in the daily cycle to give Kranz’s controllers a 32-hour rest prior to tackling the powered descent, Charlie Duke had opted to work the coming shift. Armstrong reported that the LOI-2 burn had been nominal. It was all strictly business. For most of this near-side pass there was little communication with the spacecraft. “This pass is fairly quiet,’’ noted McLeaish almost apologetically. “No doubt the crew is occupied with preparations to enter the LM, which we expect to occur over the far side of the Moon.’’ Aldrin was to spend 2.5 hours transferring items into the LM, and methodically configuring the switches in preparation for the next day’s operations.

About 50 minutes into the pass, Duke prompted for a progress report. “We’re wondering if you’ve started into the LM yet?’’

“We have the CSM hatch out, the drogue and probe removed and stowed, and are just about ready to open the LM hatch now,’’ replied Armstrong. And then, a few minutes later, “Okay, Charlie. We’re in the LM.’’

McLeaish observed, “They appear to be a little ahead on their time line.’’

After making the post-manoeuvre P52 platform check, Collins also decided to get ahead by adopting the attitude for the P22 landmark tracking that he was to do on revolution 4 of Alfa 1, the small bright crater on the Foaming Sea, with the objective of measuring its elevation relative to the intended landing site.

During the far-side pass, Armstrong shaved using cream and a razor.

“I see Earth,’’ said Aldrin, as the spacecraft rounded the limb on revolution 4, “but it’s a lousy picture.’’

Goldstone and Hawaii both acquired Apollo 11, and Duke put in a call. Collins told him that he was set up for the P22 landmark tracking. “Ho-hum, ho-hum. I only got set up for this thing about an hour early,’’ he chastised himself, provoking laughter on board. As they flew overhead, Collins made five sightings of Alfa 1 at timed intervals. On completion, he quipped to Armstrong, “Well, that’s one P22 out of the way. Ho, ho, ho!’’ When the sightings were processed, it was calculated that the landmark was 500 feet above the landing site – knowledge that would assist Armstrong and Aldrin to monitor their approach to the point at which they were to initiate the powered descent.

While in the landmark tracking attitude, the spacecraft had been unable to point its high-gain antenna at Earth, and the downlink using one of the omnidirectional antennas was noisy. However, this had no impact because, as McLeaish observed, “So far on this pass we’ve had just one contact with Apollo 11, and that was Mike Collins at AOS.’’

Duke called, “You can proceed to sleep-attitude now.’’

“Let’s hold this attitude a bit,’’ Aldrin prompted Collins, “I want to look at the PDI approach. Man, this is really something. To see our approach into the landing site, you’ve got to watch it through the LM’s window.’’

“Houston,’’ Collins replied, “we’re holding inertial for a little while to study the approach to the landing zone.’’ On looking out for himself, he said to Armstrong, “There go Sidewinder and Diamondback – God, if you ever saw check points in your life, those are it.’’

“But we don’t get to see them,’’ Armstrong noted.

“You don’t?’’

“No, we’re yawed face-up.’’

Since their previous inspection, the terminator line had migrated westward sufficiently to reveal their landing site. “I think I can see it,’’ Aldrin called with delight. “Yes, I can! I’ve got the whole landing site.’’ He depressed his Push-to – Talk, “Houston, this is Eagle. I can see the entire landing area.’’ While this was the first use of the call sign, the communication was via his umbilical to Columbia’s system.

“Roger, Buzz,’’ replied Duke matter-of-factly.

With the Sun barely above the horizon at the landing site, the lengthy shadows were highlighting the topography sufficiently to make the mildest of surface relief appear very rough. “Boy, that sure is eerie looking,” Aldrin mused.

“Isn’t that something?” said Armstrong, viewing from the command module. This was a significant moment in the mission.

“f missed taking a picture of it!’’ exclaimed Aldrin. ft did not matter, he would be able to take one later.

“Shall we manoeuvre to the sleep attitude?’’ Collins asked.

“All right,’’ Armstrong agreed.

Although the LM’s power margin was narrow, the flight plan included a test of its VHF and S-Band radio systems. “Houston, Apollo 11 – Eagle – over,’’ called Aldrin directly.

“Roger, Eagle,’’ replied Duke.

“f’ll go ahead with the sequence camera checkout,’’ said Aldrin. “f’m still on low voltage taps, and f assume there’s no problem doing that.’’

“That’s affirmative,’’ Duke confirmed.

Twenty minutes later, having tested the Maurer 16-millimetre camera, Aldrin announced, “Eagle is powering down. Out.’’

Just after Apollo 11 passed ‘over the hill’ Aldrin rejoined his colleagues, and Collins suggested that they need not reinstall the probe and drogue overnight.

‘‘ft’s okay with me,’’ agreed Armstrong.

‘‘How’s that going to affect sleeping?’’ Aldrin wondered.

‘‘f’d rather sleep with the probe and drogue than have to dick about with them in the morning,’’ Collins insisted. As long as they could squeeze their legs around the hardware stowed under the couches, there ought to be room to sleep. With the decision made, he installed the command module hatch over the tunnel.

‘‘ft’s amazing how quickly you adapt,’’ said Collins. ‘‘ft doesn’t seem weird at all to me to look out there and see the Moon going by, you know?’’ This prompted general laughter.

While Apollo 11 was behind the Moon, Owen Garriott took over as CapCom from Duke for the remainder of the Maroon Team’s shift. On the near-side pass, Collins undertook miscellaneous chores, then prepared their suppers. Over the far side once again, Aldrin, who had stood ‘watch’ the previous night, offered to do so again, ‘‘Why don’t you guys sleep underneath tonight? f’ll sleep top-deck.’’

‘‘Unless you’d rather sleep up top, Buzz,’’ Collins said, ‘‘but you guys should get a good night’s sleep before going in that damn LM. Which would you prefer? fs that probe and drogue going to be in your way over there?’’

Aldrin took a look. ‘‘No, f don’t think so.’’

ft was decided to follow the flight plan, and have Armstrong and Aldrin sleep in the hammocks. ‘‘Well,’’ said Collins, ‘‘f think today went pretty well. ff tomorrow and the next day are like today, we’ll be safe.’’

‘‘We’re ready to go to bed,’’ announced Garriott when the spacecraft appeared around the trailing limb on revolution 6.

‘‘We’re about to join you,’’ Collins replied.

With that, communications ceased. However, prior to retiring, Armstrong and

Aldrin, seeking to ‘get ahead’, prepared the clothing and equipment they would need the next day. Collins had the satisfaction of seeing his crewmen fall asleep before he himself settled down in the left couch.

In Houston, Glynn Lunney’s Black Team took over for the ‘graveyard’ shift, and his flight dynamics team analysed the tracking by the Manned Space Flight Network in order to verify that the spacecraft’s orbit was evolving in the manner designed to counteract the mascon perturbations. On the evening of Saturday, 19 July, Gene Kranz attended a Mass ‘‘to pray for wise judgement and courage, and pray also for my team and the crew’’. The astronauts’ wives endeavoured to find solitude in which to contemplate what Armstrong and Aldrin were to attempt the next day.


On Tuesday, 12 August, Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins presented a 2-hour press conference in the packed Auditorium of the Manned Spacecraft Centre. In addition to answering questions from reporters, they provided spontaneous commentary as photographs were projected and the 16-millimetre movies were played.

At 5 am the next day the three families, together with a flock of Public Affairs people, boarded an aircraft of the Presidential Fleet at Ellington Air Force Base. The first stop was New York, landing at La Guardia, where they were greeted by Mayor John Lindsay and flown by helicopter to the city for a motorcade. The astronauts rode in one open limosine, their wives in a second, and their children in a third. Thousands of people lined the streets. Others waved from windows. Flags were ubiquitous, and ticker tape rained down from the skyscrapers. The cheering in the canyons between the buildings was incredible. At City Hall, Lindsay formally welcomed his guests, and then each astronaut delivered what was to be the first of many speeches to enthralled audiences around the world. After keys to the city had been presented, there was a short drive to the United Nations building and another round of speeches, followed by a helicopter flight back to the airport. When their aircraft landed in Chicago they were received by Mayor Richard Daley, were given an even more rapturous motorcade, accepted more keys and returned to the airport

Aldrin’s core temperature would remain elevated for several months, apparently unrelated to the mission.

to fly on to Los Angeles where, after being welcomed to the City of Angels by Mayor Sam Yorty, they took a helicopter to the Century Plaza Hotel, where they were to spend the night. Having freshened up, the astronauts and wives (minus their children) were taken to the Presidential Suite, where they were received by Richard Nixon, his wife Patricia and their daughters Julie and Tricia. After this private welcome, Nixon led them all into a ballroom for a State Banquet arranged in their honour. The tables appeared to stretch as far as the eye could see. There were thousands of guests and, of course, the US television networks. Catching the astronauts unaware, Vice President Spiro T. Agnew presented each man with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honour. Also present were Gene Kranz and his wife Marta, and Steve Bales of the White Team. Bales accepted a Medal of Freedom on behalf of all the flight controllers. After dinner, the astronauts’ families accompanied Nixon’s party to a private room for a round of picture taking. Finally, after a very long day, they were shown to their rooms for some well-deserved sleep.

Houston welcomed the Apollo 11 crew home on Saturday, 16 August, with a parade and a star-studded night of entertainment at the Astrodome that featured a performance by Frank Sinatra, who sang Fly Me To The Moon.

On Saturday, 6 September, it was time for ‘home town’ visits. For Armstrong, this was Wapakoneta, Ohio, and for Aldrin it was Montclair, New Jersey. Although Collins’s parents had purchased a house in Alexandria on the Potomac while he was a teenager, he did not consider this to be his home. Instead, he opted for New Orleans, Louisiana, the home of the congressman who had nominated him for West Point. On Monday, 15 September, they visited the US Post Office in Washington, DC, where they returned an envelope that bore a stamp drawn up to commemorate the mission, which they had ‘cancelled’ during the transearth coast. The next day, Tuesday, 16 September, they attended a joint session of Congress, where first Armstrong, Aldrin, and finally Collins read an address, each receiving a rousing ovation.

Planning for the Giant Step Apollo 11 Goodwill Tour began in early September and involved NASA, the White House and the State Department. Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins were advised by Frank Borman, the astronaut with the most experience of touring. An aircraft of the Presidential Fleet left Andrews Air Force Base near Washington on the morning of Monday, 29 September, flew to Ellington Air Force Base to pick up the astronauts, their wives, and their many support staff, and then set off on a hectic schedule, each stop of which involved an official welcome, a motorcade, a press conference, an official dinner or two, and the giving and receiving of gifts.

Italian coverage of the mission had celebrated the fact that Collins was born in Rome. When the tour reached Italy, Collins was summoned to his place of birth, where he unveiled a 3-foot marble plaque that bore an inscription which began: ‘‘In this house on 31 October 1930 was born Michael Collins, intrepid astronaut of the Apollo 11 mission’’, which was all very well, but then, unfortunately, continued with ‘‘first man on the moon’’. The special treat for his wife, a Catholic, was the audience with Pope Paul VI in the Vatican.

Chicago welcomes the Apollo 11 crew.

Table: Giant Step Apollo 11 Goodwill Tour

Date of visit


29-30 September 1969

Mexico City, Mexico

30 September-1 October

Bogota, Columbia

1 October

Brasilia, Brazil

1-2 October

Buenos Aires, Argentina

2-4 October

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

4-6 October

Las Palmas, Canary Islands

6-8 October

Madrid, Spain

8-9 October

Paris, France

9 October

Amsterdam, Holland

9-10 October

Brussels, Belgium

10-12 October

Oslo, Norway

12-14 October

Cologne, Bonn and Berlin, West Germany

14-15 October

London, United Kingdom

15-18 October

Rome, Italy

18-20 October

Belgrade, Yugoslavia

20-22 October

Ankara, Turkey

22-24 October

Kinshasha, Zaire

24-26 October

Tehran, Iran

26-27 October

Bombay, India

27-28 October

Dacca, East Pakistan

28-31 October

Bangkok, Thailand

31 October

Perth, Australia

31 October-2 November

Sydney, Australia

2-3 November

Agana, Guam

3-4 November

Seoul, South Korea

4-5 November

Tokyo, Japan

5 November

Elmendorf, Alaska

2-3 December 1969

Ottawa and Montreal, Canada

On 20 July 1970, to mark the first anniversary of the lunar landing, Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins flew to Jefferson City, Missouri, where Columbia was on show during its tour of the USA. By now the three men were growing apart, they were no longer a crew, just three amiable strangers who had made a brief, but momentous, journey together.14

Columbia is now a permanent exhibit at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.


Edwin Eugene Aldrin was born in Worchester, Massachusetts, in 1896, not long after his parents, brother, and two sisters had immigrated to the USA from Sweden. After World War One he became a friend of Orville Wright. Later, while serving in the Philippines, he married Marion Gaddys Moon, the daughter of an Army chaplain. On his return to the USA in 1928 Aldrin left the Army to become a stockbroker. Three months prior to the financial crash of August 1929 he sold his stocks, bought a large house in Montclair, New Jersey, and joined Standard Oil to expand the market for petroleum by promoting commercial aviation. In 1938 he left Standard Oil to become an aviation consultant, and in World War Two joined the Army as a colonel in the Air Force.

Edwin Eugene Aldrin Jr was born on 20 January 1930 – a new brother for 3- year-old Madeline and 1-year-old Fay Ann. As Fay Ann pronounced ‘brother’ as ‘buzzer’, he gained the nickname ‘Buzz’. He had his first ride in an aeroplane at 2 years of age, when his father flew to Florida, but was sick for most of the journey. At school his priority was sports, at which he was extremely competitive, with his father cheering him on – as long as he excelled, his father was content. On leaving high school in 1947 Buzz accepted his father’s case for attending a military school, but dismissed his father’s recommendation of the Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, opting instead for the Military Academy at West Point, New York. Instead of going to summer camp as he usually did, he attended a 6-week school in order to prepare for the entrance examinations, in which he scored sufficiently well to be accepted. The first-year curriculum gave more or less equal time to scholastics and athletics. One-third of the course work was in mathematics, at which he excelled, with the result that he was rated first in both scholastics and athletics. At his graduation in 1951, at the age of 21, he was rated third in his class of 435 students.

In his final year at West Point, Buzz and his father agreed that he should join the Air Force, but while his father favoured multi-engine school because it would inevitably lead to command of a crew, Buzz wished to be a fighter pilot. After 6 months of basic flight training, 3 months of fighter pilot training, and 3 months at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, learning to fly the F-86 fighter-interceptor, he was

posted to the 51st Fighter Wing, arriving in Seoul, South Korea, on 26 December 1951. Although the war was less intense by the time he was ready for his first operational mission in February 1952, on 14 May he shot down a MiG during a patrol over North Korea (his gun camera film of the pilot ejecting was featured in Life magazine a week later) and on 7 June shot down a second. By the ceasefire on 1 July 1952 he had clocked up a total of 66 missions. He returned to Montclair in December. Prior to his Korean deployment he had accompanied his parents to a cocktail party where one of his father’s acquaintances, Mrs Evelyn Archer, invited him to dinner to meet her daughter, Joan, who had just gained her degree from Columbia and was hoping to make a career as a television actress. Michael Archer, her father, was an oil executive. Although Buzz and Joan had not corresponded while he was in Korea, he phoned her on his return and asked her to accompany him to a New Year’s Eve party, which she did. They met twice more before he returned to Nellis as a gunnery instructor (he had gained two ‘combat kills’, after all), and they kept in touch. Some time later, Buzz invited Joan for a week’s sightseeing in Las Vegas, which, although nearby for him, represented a major trip for her. As her mother had been killed in an air crash while Buzz was in Korea, Joan asked her father to accompany her. On the penultimate day Buzz proposed marriage, to which Joan agreed with her father’s consent. When Buzz’s parents were informed, they were delighted. Buzz and Joan were married on 29 December 1954, and two days later they left for Maxwell Field, Alabama, where Buzz was to spend 4 months in squadron officer school. He was then assigned as aide to the Dean of the Air Force Academy in Colorado, and as a flight instructor six months later. In August 1956 he went to Bitburg in West Germany to fly the F – 100 with the 36th Fighter Wing. In June 1959 they returned to the USA to enable Buzz to gain a postgraduate degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to advance his military career. One option was a masters degree as a preliminary to attending Experimental Test Pilot School. If he took a doctorate, he would, on graduating, have exceeded the age limit for Experimental Test Pilot School. He opted therefore for a doctorate in astronautics – a new subject that was clearly going to become important to the Air Force. In May 1961, when John F. Kennedy initiated the ‘Moon race’, Aldrin was 30 years old and well into his doctorate. In December 1962, with a thesis entitled Line of Sight Guidance Techniques for Manned Orbital Rendezvous in draft, he was sent to the Air Force’s Space Systems Division in Los Angeles. When NASA invited applications for its third intake of astronauts in June 1963, he noted that the requirement for test pilot experience had been relaxed; now 1,000 hours of jet time was sufficient. He applied, and on 17 October was announced as one of 14 new astronauts. The family set up home in Nassau Bay, one of many new housing developments near the Manned Spacecraft Center.

In view of his background, Aldrin’s assigned specialism was mission planning, working with the Trajectories and Orbits group led by Howard W. ‘Bill’ Tindall, which studied every contingency involving the computer that would process either radar tracking or sextant sightings to compute a sequence of manoeuvres designed to make a rendezvous in space – the primary objective of the Gemini program was to demonstrate rendezvous techniques for Apollo. He tutored Wally Schirra and Tom Stafford for Gemini 6, which was to attempt the first rendezvous. As Aldrin noted, “It was essential for the pilot to understand what the computer was doing, and to make sure it made no errors that went unnoticed – i. e. the pilot must know how to guide the computer to the correct conclusion.” When Aldrin was assigned as backup pilot for Gemini 10, the frustration was that the system of ‘rotation’ introduced by Slayton – although not rigidly followed, by which, after serving in a backup capacity, a crew would skip two missions and fly the next – would in this case lead nowhere since the program was to finish with Gemini 12. Nevertheless, Aldrin was delighted to get a crew assignment because, having served in a backup capacity for Gemini he would rank ahead of the total ‘rookies’ when it came to selecting the early Apollo crews. Fate intervened, however. On 28 February 1966 Elliot See and his partner for Gemini 9, Charles Bassett, died in an air crash. In reshuffling the crews, Slayton advanced Lovell and Aldrin from backing up Gemini 10 to backing up Gemini 9, which put them in line to fly Gemini 12. When the radar on that mission failed, Aldrin completed the rendezvous by computing the manoeuvres manually, and later, during a record three spacewalks, he demonstrated a mastery of the art of working in weightlessness that paved the way for such activities to be included on Apollo missions. Although Aldrin had not been as involved in the development of the LM as some of his peers, his expertise made him well suited to accompany Armstrong on the first lunar landing attempt.

At the time of Apollo 11, the Aldrin family comprised Buzz and Joan, sons Michael, aged 13, and Andrew, 11, and daughter Janice, 11.


When John F. Kennedy challenged his nation to land a man on the Moon before the decade was out, Hubert M. ‘Jake’ Drake at Edwards Air Force Base, who in the 1950s participated in the initial planning for the X-15 rocket plane, concluded that to provide realistic training for flying a lunar module it would be necessary to build a free-flying craft that accurately reproduced the stability and control issues involved in ‘flying’ in a vacuum and a reduced gravitational field. Drake set up a study group to design such a machine and enrolled Neil Armstrong as one of the team’s members. After reviewing 1950s research into vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft, it was decided to mount a jet engine in a gimbal to provide vertical thrust. Its throttle would operate in two modes: in ‘terrestrial mode’ the jet would run conventionally in order to lift off vertically and climb to the altitude needed to simulate the lunar landing, and then be throttled back into ‘lunar mode’ in order to offset five-sixths of the craft’s weight. The rate of descent would be controlled by a pair of throttleable thrusters affixed to the airframe. The attitude control system was based on that developed for the X-15 at the top of its ballistic arc, where aerodynamic control surfaces are useless. It was decided to use 16 thrusters, arranged in pairs, to control roll, pitch and yaw. The project attracted interest precisely because aerodynamics played no part in the craft’s operation. To translate, it would have to tilt, and use the angled component of the thrust from the ‘descent engines’ to impart lateral motion, then tilt back to cancel this motion. By a remarkable coincidence, Bell Aerosystems in Buffalo, New York – which had built the X-1 rocket plane in which Charles E. Yeager had ‘broken the sound barrier’ on 14 October 1947, and was the only US

It was for this reason that the KC-135 aircraft used for such training was nicknamed the Vomit Comet.

aircraft manufacturer with experience of using jet engines for VTOL – independently submitted to NASA a proposal to develop a vehicle to be used to investigate the issues of making a landing on the Moon. When NASA sent Bell out to Edwards, Drake realised that the company was better placed to develop the vehicle and, as a result, on 18 January 1963 NASA issued Bell with a contract to supply two Lunar Landing Research Vehicle (LLRV) aircraft.

On 15 April 1964 the two LLRVs were shipped to Edwards Air Force Base in crates, because Drake’s team wished to do the assembly and install the instruments themselves. Each vehicle stood 10 feet tall on four legs spanning some 13 feet, and weighed 3,700 pounds. The General Electric CF-700-2V turbofan jet delivered a maximum of 4,200 pounds of thrust. The descent engines for ‘lunar mode’ were non­combustion rocket thrusters using pure hydrogen peroxide propellant, each of which could be throttled between 100 and 500 pounds of thrust in order to control the rate of descent and horizontal translations.[12] The pilot sat on a platform that projected forward between the front legs. In view of the fact that if a vehicle were to get into trouble it would be close to the ground, probably be falling, and certainly be within seconds of crashing, it was fitted with a lightweight ejection seat developed by Weber Aircraft that was not only capable of lifting its user clear of an aircraft on the ground but also from an aircraft that was at low level and falling at 30 feet per second. On 30 October 1964 NASA test pilot Joseph S. Walker, a former X-15 pilot, made three vertical ‘hops’ in LLRV-1, remaining within 10 feet of the ground for a total duration of 60 seconds to exercise the hydrogen peroxide attitude control thrusters, the steam from which nearly obscured the view of the spectators. Armstrong was no longer at Edwards, but having been assigned the task of overseeing the development of trainers and simulators he closely monitored the test program.

In 1963 NASA began to train astronauts to fly helicopters in the hope that this would enable them to gain a feel for the issues of making a landing on the Moon. However, while a helicopter could duplicate the trajectory of the final phase of a lunar landing, the basic aerodynamic requirements of helicopter flight meant that the controls could not simulate those of a spacecraft. In contrast, the ми-aerodynamic LLRV did accurately simulate control over the rate of descent, attitude, and lateral movement. On 26 January 1965, Warren J. North, who was in charge of training, ordered that astronauts must have 200 hours of helicopter training prior to trying to fly the LLRV. In October that year NASA drew up the preliminary specifications for a Lunar Landing Training Vehicle (LLTV). Based on the LLRV, this new vehicle was to have an upgraded jet and larger tanks of peroxide for longer endurance in ‘lunar mode’, a cabin with a similar field of view to that envisaged for the LM, a 3- axis hand controller (instead of the stick and pedals of the LLRV), instruments laid out as in the LM, and as much as possible of the LM’s built-in flight control logic in order to enhance its fidelity as a trainer. In August 1966 Armstrong and Joseph S. Algranti, chief of aircraft operations at the Manned Spacecraft Center, worked with Bell to implement these upgrades. To augment helicopter training, a cratered surface based on the highest resolution pictures from the Ranger probes was mocked up, and on climbing to 500 feet the astronauts would cut the throttle and land at various angles and rates of descent and in a variety of lighting conditions to familiarise themselves with visually gauging their height and sink rate over the alien landscape. Meanwhile, it had been decided that once Edwards completed its LLRV tests these vehicles should be sent to Ellington. When LLRV-1 arrived on 12 December 1966, Armstrong was present to watch Algranti perform the formal acceptance trial. LLRV-2 followed in mid-January 1967. In a rationalisation, the two LLRVs were redesignated LLTV A1 and A2, and the three new vehicles were to be B1, B2 and B3. Before being permitted to fly, an astronaut was required to undertake a 3-week helicopter refresher, 1 week of familiarisation with the Lunar Landing Research Facility at Langley,[13] spend 15 hours in a ground simulator and then be cleared by Algranti.

Armstrong made his first flight in LLTV A1 on 27 March 1967, but did not fly again until starting an intensive program of lunar landing rehearsals in early 1968. A typical flight involved using the jet at maximum thrust to lift off vertically and climb to 500 feet altitude, throttling back to balance five-sixths of the weight, and then, as when using the helicopter, flying a profile that would match the trajectory of a LM at that altitude, except that now the rate of descent and lateral manoeuvres were actively controlled employing the ‘descent engines’. As Armstrong reflected of his experience:[14]

‘‘The thing that surprises people on their initial flights in ‘lunar mode’ is the tendency of the vehicle to float far beyond where you think it is going to go. It takes practice to anticipate the distance required to slow down – you must start to brake much earlier, if you are to stop where you want to stop. Similarly, if you are in a hover, and change your mind, it takes a lot of effort to get moving again. The vehicle is sluggish in its translating ability, so it takes a long time, and big angles, to gain a little speed and translate 50 feet. We hope to have one – and-a-half to two minutes of fuel essentially in hover when we’re landing on the

Moon, but you can use that up really fast if you change your mind frequently about where you want to go.”

On 6 May 1968 LLTV A1 went out of control during a descent and he had to eject.

“I lifted the vehicle off the ground and climbed to an altitude of 500 feet in preparation for making the landing profile. I had been airborne for about 5 minutes, and was down to about 200 feet when the trouble began. The first indication was a decreasing ability to control the vehicle. It began to tilt sharply. There was less and less response. The trouble developed rather rapidly, but wasn’t an abrupt stop. It was a decay in attitude control. Without attitude control there is no way to remain upright. The vehicle does have two separate systems for doing this, but in this case both systems failed at their common point – the high-pressure helium to pressurise the propellant to the rockets. I was losing both systems simultaneously, and that’s where I had to give up and get off. I guess I ejected at 100 feet, plus or minus – we don’t have a way of measuring it accurately, even from photographs. How far the ejection throws you depends on your attitude at the time you leave, and also on your upward or downward velocity at the time. If you start from an upright attitude at a hover, it will take you up about 300 feet. The parachute ejector is automatic, although there is a manual override. I had always thought I might be able to match the automatic system, but when I was reaching for the D-ring the automatic system had already fired.’’


Early on the morning of Sunday, 20 July, Ron Evans made the wake-up call.

‘‘Good morning,’’ replied Collins half a minute later. ‘‘You guys sure do start early.’’

‘‘It looks like you were really sawing them away.’’ Evans said, having noted the telemetry indicating that all three astronauts had been sleeping soundly.

‘‘You’re right,’’ Collins agreed. ‘‘How are all the CSM systems looking?’’

‘‘It looks like the command module’s in good shape. The Black Team’s been watching it real closely for you.’’

‘‘We appreciate that, because I sure haven’t.’’

Moments later, the spacecraft passed ‘over the hill’. While on the far side, the crew tidied up and prepared the breakfast. On their reappearance on revolution 10, Evans, making the most of his opportunity to converse, announced, ‘‘The Black Bugle just arrived with some morning news briefs, if you’re ready.’’

‘‘Go ahead,’’ Armstrong replied.

‘‘Today church services around the globe will be mentioning Apollo 11 in their prayers. President Nixon’s worship service at the White House is also dedicated to the mission, and fellow astronaut Frank Borman is still in there pitching – he will read the passage from Genesis that was read out on Apollo 8 last Christmas. The Cabinet and members of Congress, with emphasis on the Senate and House space committees, have been invited, together with a number of other guests. Buzz, your son, Andy, got a tour of the Manned Spacecraft Center yesterday which included the Lunar Receiving Laboratory; he was accompanied by your uncle, Bob Moon.’’ ‘‘Thank you,’’ said Aldrin.

‘‘Among the headlines about Apollo this morning,’’ Evans continued, ‘‘there is one asking that you watch for a lovely girl with a big rabbit. An ancient legend says a beautiful Chinese girl called Chang-o has been living there for 4,000 years. It seems she was banished to the Moon because she stole the pill of immortality from her husband. You might also look for her companion, a large Chinese rabbit, who is easy to spot since he is always standing on his hind feet in the shade of a cinnamon tree; the name of the rabbit is not reported.’’

The astronauts promised that they would ‘‘keep a close eye out for the bunny girl’’.

Evans went on, “You residents of the spacecraft Columbia may be interested in knowing that today is Independence Day in the country of Colombia. Gloria Diaz of the Philippines was crowned Miss Universe last night, beating sixty other girls for the global beauty title. Miss Diaz is 18, has black hair and eyes, and measures thirty – four-and-a-half, twenty-three, thirty-four-and-a-half. The first runner up was Miss Australia, then Miss Israel and Miss Japan. When you are on your way back, Tuesday night, the American and National League All Stars will be playing ball in Washington. Mel Stottlemyre of the Yankees is expected to be the American League’s first pitcher. No one’s predicting who’ll be first pitcher for the National League yet; they have nine on the roster.’’ And then he rounded off with a funny: “Although research has certainly paid off in the space program, research doesn’t always pay off, it appears. Woodstream Corporation, the parent company of the Animal Trap Company of America that has made more than a billion wooden spring mousetraps, reported that it built a better mousetrap but the world didn’t beat a path to its door. As a matter of fact, it had to go back to the old-fashioned kind. They said, ‘We should have spent more time researching housewives, and less time researching mice’. And with that the Black Bugle is completed for this morning.’’

‘‘Thank you, very much,’’ acknowledged Armstrong.

A few minutes later, the spacecraft passed around the far side again.

Meanwhile, at home

On his arrival in Mission Control, Kranz was astonished to find Dick Koos absent; Koos had rolled his new Triumph TR3 driving in, but was uninjured and arrived in time for the powered descent. On reviewing Lunney’s console log, Kranz was pleased to discover that he had not inherited any problems – the spacecraft was in excellent condition. Chris Kraft arrived, patted Kranz on the shoulder and wished him ‘‘good luck’’, then took his seat on Management Row. When Kranz was made a flight director early in the Gemini program, his wife Marta had begun the tradition of making him a waistcoat specifically for each mission. For Apollo 11 she had made one of white brocade inlaid with very fine silver thread. At 095:41 Kranz took over the flight director’s console, and Lunney went to brief the press. During the far-side pass, the other members of the White Team settled in for what was to be a momentous shift – the landing was about 7 hours off. Man could land on the Moon for the first time only once. As the shift began, this task had not yet been attempted. Soon it would be. Once achieved, the moment of its attainment would become part of the historical record. On looking around into the viewing gallery, Kranz noticed Bill Tindall, and waved him down to sit alongside him at his console. Kranz would later write of Tindall, ‘‘he was the guy who put all the pieces together, and all we did was execute them.’’[22]

At 9.30 am Joan Aldrin, her children and Robert and Audrey Moon, attended

Webster Presbyterian Church, where her husband served as an elder. The church was packed, with folding chairs in place to accommodate the extra worshippers. As in Mission Control, the mood was tense. The Reverend Dean Woodruff began his sermon: “Today we witness the epitome of the creative ability of Man. And we, here in this place, are not only witnesses but also unique participants.” Everyone knew that by the day’s end Armstrong and Aldrin might well be dead. Pat Collins, her children and sister Ellie Golden, went to morning Mass at St Paul’s Roman Catholic Church. Jan Armstrong remained at home and impatiently watched the clock. At noon some of the churchwomen delivered a cold luncheon to the Aldrin home, together with a cake that had been frosted with the Stars and Stripes and the words ‘We came in peace for all mankind’. Woodruff arrived later, and remained for the powered descent.

The Moon revealed


The Air Force C-141 Starlifter carrying NASA Administrator Thomas O. Paine and the first rock box landed at Ellington Air Force Base on Friday, 25 July 1969. Awaiting it were Samuel C. Phillips, the Apollo Program Director, Robert R. Gilruth, Director of the Manned Spacecraft Center, and George M. Low, Manager of the Apollo Spacecraft Program Office in Houston. Gilruth and Low posed for photographs holding the box, before taking it to the Lunar Receiving Laboratory on the campus of the Manned Spacecraft Center. The second box arrived later that day. The next day, a member of the 50-strong Preliminary Examination Team used a vacuum chamber with a window and rubberised ‘arms’ to raise the lid of the first box, and found the interior so coated with black dust as to make it impractical to say anything definitive about the contents! When the boxes were emptied, there was found to be 48 pounds of lunar material in the form of 20 individual rocks and a pile of fragments and grains. One by one, the rocks were cleaned for inspection. At a press conference on 28 July, Persa R. Bell, Director of the Lunar Receiving Laboratory, opined that the rocks had been ‘‘beautifully selected’’. Elbert King, the curator, announced that the first rock to be examined under a microscope appeared to be a granular igneous rock. Gene Shoemaker of the US Geological Survey suggested that it represented a lava flow. But this was only a first impression. Once the material had been catalogued, small samples were issued to 150 principal investigators who had spent years developing the means to subject such material to almost every possible kind of analysis. The investigations proceeded at such a pace that on 15 September NASA was able to announce the preliminary findings and, to follow up, on 4 January 1970 the agency hosted the first of what was to become an annual Lunar Science Conference.1

To Harold C. Urey, who favoured the ‘cold’ Moon theory in which the interior was uniformly composed of ‘pristine’ material, the dark plains were the result of

These gatherings are now entitled the Lunar and Planetary Sciences Conferences.

George M. Low (left) and Robert R. Gilruth offload the first rock box from an aircraft at Ellington Air Force Base.

impact melting on a vast scale. While the astronauts were out on the surface, Urey had been concerned when Armstrong reported a vesicular rock, encouraged when Armstrong changed his mind, and dismissed Armstrong’s later report of a rock he was sure was vesicular. Most of all, Urey was encouraged that they did not report finding the ‘frothy vacuum lava’ predicted by his leading rival, Gerard P. Kuiper, who favoured the ‘hot’ Moon theory in which the interior was differentiated and the dark plains were the result of upwellings of lava through fractures in the floors of major impact basins. The rocks proved to be a form of basalt rich in magnesium and iron (and therefore described as being ‘mafic’) which isotopic dating revealed to have crystallised some 3.84 to 3.57 billion years ago. In terms of texture, it was strikingly similar to terrestrial basalt. It was not impact melt. This meant that the Moon had undergone a process of thermal differentiation in which lightweight aluminous minerals had migrated up to the surface and the heavier minerals had sunk into the interior. The fact that some of this denser material had later been erupted indicated

that the interior had remained ‘hot’ for a significant period. However, when compared to terrestrial basalt, the lunar variety was enriched in titanium. The titanium-bearing mineral, which was new to mineralogists, was named ‘armalcolite’, in honour of the astronauts.[51] The lack of oxidised iron meant that the lava was created in a reducing environment (i. e. one devoid of oxygen). The most striking fact was the total absence of hydrous minerals. The lunar basalt was also deficient in volatile metals such as sodium. The low-alkali (i. e. sodium-depleted) lava would have had an extremely low viscosity, which is why it flowed so readily, and why it left so few ‘positive-relief’ features. The Sea of Tranquility was evidently accumulated by episodic volcanism over a period of several hundred million years. The presence of two types of basalt implied either that there were separate reservoirs of magma or that the single source had undergone chemical evolution over time.

As Armstrong later reflected of the lunar surface, ‘‘My impression was that we were taking a ‘snapshot’ of a steady-state process in which rocks are being worn down on the surface of the Moon with time, and other rocks are being thrown out on top as a result of new events somewhere near or far away. In other words, no matter when you had visited this spot before – 1,000 years ago or 100 years ago, or if you come back to it 1,000,000 years from now – you’d see some different things each time but the scene would generally be the same.’’ This was insightful. On the airless Moon there was little chemical erosion. Large impacts simply excavated bedrock, and this was progressively worn down by smaller impacts to produce the regolith, the majority of which was pulverised basalt. There was little meteoritic material. Many of the discrete samples proved to be regolith compacted by shock. When subjected to physical stress these ‘regolith breccias’ tended to fall apart. The ‘glassy material’ found in a small fresh-looking crater was regolith that had been heated and fused by a high-energy impact. This impact-driven weathering process was given the name ‘gardening’.

There was a small residue of the regolith that was very different in character. On the basis of his analysis of chemical data provided by Surveyor 7, which had landed near the crater Tycho in the southern highlands in 1968, Shoemaker had predicted that 4 per cent of the regolith at the Apollo 11 site would comprise minuscule fragments of light-coloured rock – and this proved to be the case. This light rock was plagioclase feldspar. Terrestrial plagioclase is rich in sodium, but the Moon is depleted in sodium and the lunar variant had calcium, making it calcic-plagioclase. Some of the fragments were sufficiently pure to justify being called anorthosite, this being the name for a rock comprising at least 90 per cent plagioclase, but most were diluted with mafic minerals and therefore were more properly called anorthositic gabbro; like the material Surveyor 7 had analysed. Shoemaker’s rationale for there being highland material in the regolith of the Sea of Tranquility was based on the manner in which the most recently formed highland craters splashed out ‘rays’ of material. Regarding the highlands, it could now be inferred that the primitive crust was composed of anorthositic rock. At the Lunar Science Conference, J. A. Wood noted that if the ‘exotic’ fragments in the Apollo 11 regolith were indeed highland rock, then their density of 2.9 grams per cubic centimetre (in comparison to the 3.4 average for the Moon) meant that the heat generated by giant impacts during the accretion of the Moon from planetesimals had created a ‘magma ocean’ which later solidified to form the crust. This was a significant insight into early lunar history.

What a difference one brief field trip had made; its ‘ground truth’ had scythed through the long-held theories without consideration for the professional standing of their proponents. Previously minor players found themselves in the limelight by virtue of having been proved right. For example, in a paper published a few weeks prior to Apollo 11, Anthony Turkevich reported a study of data from Surveyor 5, which landed in the Sea of Tranquility in 1967, near where Apollo 11 was to try to land, and he predicted the astronauts would return with titanium-enriched basalt.


General James L. Collins was a career officer who served in the Philippines, in the 1916 Mexican campaign, and in France in World War One. He married Virginia Stewart, whose family had British roots; his own family came from Ireland. Michael Collins was born on 31 October 1930 while his father was Army attache to Rome, joining siblings James L. Collins Jr, who was 13 years older, and sisters Agnes and Virginia, 10 and 6 years older respectively. The family returned to the USA in 1932. As a child, Michael read a lot, was athletic, and had fun, but in contrast to most of his contemporaries did not develop any great passion for airplanes. His father had graduated from West Point Military Academy, as had his brother, but Michael was inclined towards medicine. His mother suggested a career in the State Department. Although his father put no pressure on him to attend West Point, Louisiana congressman Edward Hebert, a family friend, urged him to follow in the family tradition, which, on leaving high school in 1948, Michael decided to do – more for the free education than for any desire to join the military. After graduating in 1952 he joined the Air Force, gained his ‘wings’ in the summer of 1953, and was sent to Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, for advanced fighter training, followed by training for ground attack using nuclear bombs. In December 1954 he was posted to an F-86 fighter squadron at a NATO base in France. In 1956 he met 21-year-old Patricia

Finnegan, a civilian worker in the Air Force who had arrived the previous year and was the eldest of the eight children of Joseph and Julia Finnegan of Boston, Massachusetts. Michael and Patricia were soon engaged, but did not marry until 28 April 1957. On returning to the USA a few months later, Collins was assigned as an instructor, and as he considered a test pilot to be more an engineer than a seat-of – the-pants fighter pilot, in August I960 he enrolled at the Experimental Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base. When NASA sought a second intake of astronauts in April 1962 he applied, but was rejected. When the agency made another call in June 1963 he applied again, and on 17 October was announced as one of 14 new astronauts. The family moved to Nassau Bay, buying a house not far from that of the Aldrins.

As his specialism Collins was assigned to track the development of space suits and miscellaneous equipment for extravehicular activity. On 18 July 1966, John Young and Collins were launched for the Gemini 10 mission, during which, over a three-day period, they rendezvoused with an Agena target vehicle which was then used to rendezvous with the Agena left by Gemini 8. Collins made two spacewalks, one standing in the hatch and the other involving floating across to the old Agena in order to retrieve an experiment which, if Gemini 8 had not been cut short, Dave Scott would have retrieved.

On being assigned to Apollo 11, Collins was asked whether he was frustrated by having to remain in lunar orbit while his colleagues attempted the landing. “I’d either be a liar or a fool if I said that I think I have the best of the three seats on the mission. On the other hand, all three seats are necessary. I would very much like to see the lunar surface – who wouldn’t!? – but I am an integral part of the operation, and am happy to be going in any capacity. I am going 99.9 per cent of the way, and I don’t feel frustrated at all.’’

At the time of Apollo 11, the Collins family comprised Mike and Pat, son Michael, aged 6, and daughters Kathleen, 10, and Ann, 7.


The crew of Apollo 11 did not become close friends, as some crews did during training, but this was not a prerequisite for mission success – it was required only that each man should know his job, trust his colleagues to do likewise, and work together as part of a team. Collins later described the trio as “amiable strangers’’. In a sense, they were no more than military men assigned to a mission. Of Armstrong, Collins observed, “Among the dozen test pilots who flew the X-15 rocket ship, Neil was considered one of the weaker stick-and-rudder men, but the very best when it came to understanding the machine’s design and how it operated.’’ He was “notable for making decisions slowly, but making them well’’. Collins considered him “far and away the most experienced test pilot among the astronauts’’, and the best choice to command the first attempt to land on the Moon.

The abandoned vehicle fell straight down

“The ejection system threw me somewhat east of the crash, but the wind was from the east and at the time my chute opened I was a bit concerned that I might be drifting down into the fire, but the wind was strong and I actually missed the flames by several hundred feet. After I landed, I got up and walked away. The only damage to me was that I bit my tongue.’’

As Armstrong had abandoned a stricken Panther jet over Korea, this was his second ejection. Most astronauts would have sought out colleagues and related an enthusiastic account of the event, but Armstrong returned to his office to catch up on paperwork. At the time, observers speculated that there had been an explosion, but they had been misled by the steam issuing from the thrusters as Armstrong was attempting to recover. LLTV A2, which was not yet in operation, was grounded pending an investigation led by Algranti, which concluded that a design flaw had enabled the helium pressurisation of the peroxide system to decay, rendering the thrusters ineffective.

The first В model LLTV was delivered to Ellington in December 1967, but did not become available until mid-1968. A Flight Readiness Review on 26 November declared LLTV В1 ready for astronaut training. On 8 December 1968, on its tenth flight, the vehicle developed an uncontrollable lateral control oscillation, obliging Algranti to eject at an altitude of 200 feet. Kraft and Robert R. Gilruth, Director of the Manned Spacecraft Center, suggested that the LLTV was too dangerous, but the

astronauts, particularly Armstrong, who had most experience with it, insisted it was essential. On 13 June 1969 LLTV B2 was declared ready for astronaut training. As commander of the mission that was to attempt a lunar landing, Armstrong had first call, and he flew it on 14, 15 and 16 June. Since the vehicle carried propellant only for about 6 minutes of flight and it took several minutes to climb and establish the required profile, a descent test lasted at most 4 minutes and often was concluded with only seconds to spare. Although dangerous, the LLTV was the only effective training for flying the LM in a manual mode.[15]


On 17 June the Apollo 11 crew had their T-30-day medicals and transferred to the Manned Spacecraft Operations Building, located on the industrial facility 5 miles south of the Vehicle Assembly Building. The third-floor crew quarters, which had a ventilation system designed to maintain a germ-free environment, comprised a living room, dining room, kitchen, briefing room, bathroom, exercise room, equipment room, and a number of small windowless bedrooms. Lewis Hartzell had been hired to cook for the Gemini crews and remained, not for the money, but for the honour of cooking for the astronauts. As a former Marine and a cook on tugboats, Hartzell only did plain cooking, which raised no objections from the astronauts.

A flight readiness review later on 17 June authorised loading the hypergolic propellants into the LM and CSM tanks. This represented a major decision point, because if a mid-July launch should prove impracticable, it would not be safe to retain such corrosive chemicals in the tanks for an additional month – not only would the tanks have to be drained, but certain components would require to be removed and returned to the vendor for refurbishment. Worse, there would be no guarantee that the vehicles could be reassembled in time for the August launch window. The loading operation began on 18 June and, despite delays caused by weather conditions at the Cape, was completed on 23 June.[16]

On 26 June Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins had medical examinations that were not only to confirm their physical state, but also to catalogue the organisms in their systems to provide a ‘baseline’ for spotting any infections that they might contract during the final stages of preparation. After a countdown demonstration test that concluded with a simulated launch at 9.32 am local time on Wednesday, 3 July, they flew to Houston for the Fourth of July weekend. Life magazine published an issue

with the cover ‘Off To The Moon’, with stories about their home lives. NASA would have loved to have scheduled the lunar landing for 4 July, but operational constraints did not permit this.

Gene Kranz’s flight control team took 4 July off, but returned to work the next day for their ‘graduation’ simulations. As Armstrong and Aldrin were unavailable, Pete Conrad and Al Bean took their places as a welcome training opportunity for Apollo 12. The flight controllers successfully overcame six tough scenarios during the morning. The afternoon sessions were to be ‘flown’ by the Apollo 12 backup crew of Dave Scott and Jim Irwin, the rationale being that a less-experienced crew would increase the pressure on the flight controllers. Three minutes into the first run, Koos prompted the LM’s computer to issue an alarm. A caution and warning light illuminated, and the computer flashed the numerical identifier for that particular problem. Computer alarms could result from a hardware fault, a software issue, out- of-tolerance data, or a procedural error either by the crew or the ground. Steve Bales, the guidance officer, was monitoring the LM’s computer to ensure that it received the correct data from Earth and that its guidance, navigation and control tasks were being properly executed. In this case the alarm was a 12-01. Bales had previously seen it during functional tests of the computer on the ground, but never in a simulation, and certainly not in flight. While the LM crew awaited advice, he checked his manual: the 12-01 alarm was ‘executive overflow’, which meant that the computer was overloaded. The computer’s executive was to repeatedly cycle through a list of tasks in a given interval of time, and evidently the time available was no longer sufficient to finish the tasks before it was obliged to begin the next cycle. Bales called Jack Garman, a support room colleague and software expert, and they agreed that the alarm was serious, especially since it was recurrent. With no mission rules to inform his decision-making, Bales called Kranz, told him that there was something amiss with the computer, although he could not say what, and recommended an abort. This call came out of the blue as Kranz had not been party to the discussion between Bales and Garman, but as a flight director must trust the judgement of his controllers – especially on abort calls – he confirmed it. Charlie Duke, serving as CapCom, relayed the abort to the crew, who performed the manoeuvre and made as if to rendezvous with their mother ship (which was not actually in the simulation). At the debriefing, Koos pointed out that the 12-01 had not necessitated an abort; in the absence of a positive indication that the computer was failing they should have continued. Shocked that he had made a bad call, Bales got together with the people from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who had written the software, in order to investigate the alarm. Later that evening, he called Kranz and conceded there had been no need to abort. The next day, 6 July, Koos triggered a range of computer alarms to enable Bales’ team to record data on the ability of the computer to continue to function. On 11 July Bales added a new mission rule listing the alarms that would require an immediate abort; in all other cases the powered descent was to continue pending a positive indication of a critical failure.

In 1966 Slayton had told George E. Mueller, Director of the Office of Manned Space Flight, that an Apollo crew would require 140 hours of training in the CSM simulator, with a lunar landing crew spending an additional 180 hours in the LM. In

fact, as they completed their training, Collins had spent 400 hours in the CSM; Armstrong had spent 164 hours in the CSM, 383 hours in the LM, and a total of 34 hours in the Lunar Landing Research Facility at Langley and flying the LLTV; and Aldrin had spent 182 hours in the CSM and 411 hours in the LM, but had not used the other facilities. Training for lunar surface activities accounted for no more than 14 per cent of their time.