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The Moon Landing … Fifty Years On ! Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong make history.

July 19, 2019

Tomorrow, it is 50 years since the first Moon landing and I thought coming from a house that seems to have more books on Space than most, I’d mark the passing of this monumental occasion. Here’s just a few of the adult ones.

And then there’s the children’s ones too !

On July 20, 1969, American astronauts Neil Armstrong (1930-2012) and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin (1930-) became the first humans ever to land on the moon.

About six-and-a-half hours later, Armstrong became the first person to walk on the moon. As he set took his first step, Armstrong famously said, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” The Apollo 11 mission occurred eight years after President John F. Kennedy (1917-63) announced a national goal of landing a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s. Apollo 17, the final manned moon mission, took place in 1972.

Timeline of the 1969 Moon Landing

At 9:32 a.m. EDT on July 16, with the world watching, Apollo 11 took off from Kennedy Space Center with astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins aboard. Armstrong, a 38-year-old civilian research pilot, was the commander of the mission.

After traveling 240,000 miles in 76 hours, Apollo 11 entered into a lunar orbit on July 19. The next day, at 1:46 p.m., the lunar module Eagle, manned by Armstrong and Aldrin, separated from the command module, where Collins remained. Two hours later, the Eagle began its descent to the lunar surface, and at 4:17 p.m. the craft touched down on the southwestern edge of the Sea of Tranquility. Armstrong immediately radioed to Mission Control in Houston, Texas, a now-famous message: “The Eagle has landed.”

At 10:56 p.m., as Armstrong stepped off the ladder and planted his foot on the moon’s powdery surface, he spoke his famous quote, which he later contended was slightly garbled by his microphone and meant to be “that’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Aldrin joined him on the moon’s surface 19 minutes later, and together they took photographs of the terrain, planted a U.S. flag, ran a few simple scientific tests and spoke with President Richard Nixon (1913-94) via Houston.

By 1:11 a.m. on July 21, both astronauts were back in the lunar module and the hatch was closed. The two men slept that night on the surface of the moon, and at 1:54 p.m. the Eagle began its ascent back to the command module. Among the items left on the surface of the moon was a plaque that read: “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot on the moon—July 1969 A.D.—We came in peace for all mankind.”

Armstrong and Aldrin blast off and dock with Collins in Columbia. Collins later says that “for the first time,” he “really felt that we were going to carry this thing off.”

The crew splashes down off Hawaii on July 24. Kennedy’s challenge has been met. Men from Earth have walked on the moon and returned safely home.

A lot of my favourite Illustrators have shown their own view of Space.

Space Alphabet

5 More Moon Landings and One Aborted Mission

There would be five more successful lunar landing missions, and one unplanned lunar swing-by, Apollo 13 (whose lunar landing was aborted due to technical difficulties). The last men to walk on the moon, astronauts Eugene Cernan (1934-) and Harrison Schmitt (1935-) of the Apollo 17 mission, left the lunar surface on December 14, 1972.

The Apollo program was a costly and labor intensive endeavor, involving an estimated 400,000 engineers, technicians and scientists, and costing $24 billion (close to $100 billion in today’s dollars). The expense was justified by Kennedy’s 1961 mandate to beat the Soviets to the moon, and after the feat was accomplished ongoing missions lost their viability.

Obviously all this talk about the Moon and Space inspired many many books to be written on and around the subject, especially for children.

Sadly Neil Armstrong passed away in 2012, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin both turn 89 this year !

Well done gents for making such an incredible historic journey. I wonder if you would ever feel quite the same after stepping out onto the Moon and coming back to Earth ! What do you think readers ?

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