Apollo 11

filed under | aviation | space


The Apollo 11 mission landed the first humans on the Moon. Launched on July 16, 1969, the third lunar mission of NASA's Apollo Program was crewed by Commander Neil Alden Armstrong, Command Module Pilot Michael Collins, and Lunar Module Pilot Edwin Eugene 'Buzz' Aldrin, Jr. On July 20, Armstrong and Aldrin became the first humans to land on the Moon, while Collins orbited in the Command Module. The mission fulfilled President John F. Kennedy's goal of reaching the moon by the end of the 1960s, which he had expressed during a speech given before a joint session of Congress on May 25, 1961: "I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth." After the astronauts planted a U.S. flag on the lunar surface, they spoke with President Richard Nixon through a telephone-radio transmission which Nixon called "the most historic phone call ever made from the White House." Nixon originally had a long speech prepared to read during the phone call, but Frank Borman, who was at the White House as a NASA liaison during Apollo 11, convinced Nixon to keep his words brief, out of respect of the lunar landing being Kennedy's legacy. Initially the command module landed upside down but was righted in several minutes by flotation bags triggered by the astronauts. A diver from the Navy helicopter hovering above attached an anchor to the command module to prevent it from drifting. Additional divers attached additional flotation collars to stabilize the module and position rafts for astronaut extraction. Though the possibility of bringing back pathogen from the lunar surface was considered remote, it was not considered impossible and NASA took great precautions at the recovery site. Astronauts were provided Biological Isolation Garment (BIG suit) by divers which were worn until they reached isolation facilities onboard the Hornet. Additionally astronauts were rubbed down with a sodium-hypochlorite solution and the command module wiped with betadine to remove any lunar dust that might be present. The raft containing decontamination materials was then intentionally sunk. A second Sea King helicopter hoisted the astronauts aboard one by one where a NASA flight surgeon gave each a brief physical check during the half mile trip back to the Hornet. After touchdown on the Hornet, all crew exited the helicopter, leaving the flight surgeon and 3 crew. The helicopter was then lowered into hangar bay #2 where the astronauts walked the 30 feet to the Mobile Quarantine Facility (MQF) where they would begin their 21 days of quarantine, a practice that would continue for the next 3 Apollo missions before the moon was proven to be barren of life and quarantine process dropped for Apollo XV through XVII. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]

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