1969: Men on the Moon

August 26, 2012 • 4:11 am

This is what we all saw 43 years ago when Neil Armstrong, who died yesterday, first set foot on the Moon. After the famous climb down the ladder, Armstrong cavorts with crewmate Buzz Aldrin.

It still amazes me that that tiny lunar module was able to take off and rendezvous with the command module for the trip back to Earth.  I remember being really nervous that something would go wrong and the lunar module would be stranded on the Moon.

Since 1972, only four years after this, no human has set foot on another celestial body.

Starts With a Bang! has some nice pictures of the landing and subsequent frolics. Oh, and there’s this statement, just issued by Armstrong’s family:

“For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.”

h/t: Michael

20 thoughts on “1969: Men on the Moon

  1. I stayed up through the whole thing. Man, was I tired. A tremendous bonding moment with my Dad, who made sure we got to watch it.

    And it looks about right. Smeary black and white on a small screen. At least I know what they are talking about now. “Center of mass.” What?

      1. Yes, I saw the flag story. But thanks for sharing. Everybody thought it fell over 43 years ago.

        All I remember about JFK is that we all got out of school early that day(2nd grade), somebody threw up in the hallway, and my little brother punched the TV (Zenith)and cracked the glass on Saturday morning, because cartoons weren’t on. That and watching the killing of Oswald live. I still remember that I thought that man was going to kill him.

  2. I just watched the clip with my eight year old daughter and as it ended she exclaimed, “I want to go to the moon! It is so cool there!”

      1. It had always been a dream of mine as well but I was both too young and too old. She may actually have a pretty good chance of getting there.

  3. The right man to set his foot on the moon first for whole mankind. His capabilities, courages, dedication and humbleness amounts for that.

  4. Regarding the lunar module Jerry, I learned another fact about it recently that was even scarier. As with the Saturn V, the ascent engine used hypergolic fuels – fuels that explode on contact with each other. The effect of this was so corrosive it had to be cleaned and rebuilt after each test. So, when they were sitting on the Moon’s surface waiting to rejoin Mike Collins, the ascent engine had never been fired before!

    To sum up, you’ve got the flimsiest spacecraft you could imagine (which could not fly in an atmosphere, only in a vacuum), a measly 32k of computing power, and their whole lives depending on an untried engine working perfectly first time.

    And they did their jobs with no fuss or fanfare. Unbelievable.

    1. Hypergolic fuels are truly dangerous. As a kid I remember my father explaining how if there were a spill and you smelled the fuel, it was too late, you were dead. In addition to that, once a large enough surface area has been achieved the fuel will ignite without need of further prompting, hence the term “hypergolic.”

      Minor correction, the Saturn V’s engines used kerosene and LOX, not hypergolic fuels. Hypergolic fuels were deemed too dangerous for use generally, and were only used in situations where nothing else could be made to work. In the case of the LEM it was of course weight that was the determining factor. They couldn’t come up with anything light enough without using hypergolic fuel.

    2. “…the flimsiest spacecraft you could imagine…”

      As I recall, the skin of the LEM was basically heavy-duty aluminum foil. A careless elbow would have gone right through it.

      1. The same goes for aircraft skins. An elbow wouldn’t do it though; the alloys used are pretty tough and it does take some effort to rip through.

  5. Cool video. I can imagine that when the aliens finally make it to Earth, they will send back video of themselves fooling around in similar fashion!

    1. Somehow your comment makes me recall a phrase I heard somewhere: “You should kill us all on sight.”
      I wonder where that comes from?

  6. I was staying down with my grandparents in Devon and I clearly remember getting up especially early (as a treat!) to watch the landing on a grainy black and white telly that they had.

    It was only much later when I reflected upon the events that I considered what my grandfather had lived through: he was born in 1891, served throughout WW1 and died in 1971. In that time the Wright Brothers took off from Kitty Hawk, the Spitfire fighting in WW2 finally watching the moon landing …..

    In one lifetime.

  7. I remember my grandfather-in-law at the time said that it wasn’t real – it had to have been done in Hollywood. He was a farmer in the middle of Kansas who had only been out of the county he lived in once – when he served in Europe in WWI. He could not fathom that something like this was even possible.

  8. I wonder if the Upside-Down version exists as a recording? The 2 receivers covering the landing were the Australian Parkes Radio Telescope and the DS43 telescope at the NASA/JPL Tidbinbilla Deep Space Communications Complex near the Australian capital Canberra. The Australians read the manuals as items were delivered and they correctly configured the video decoder unit; the video unit at the NASA facility was not correctly configured (there was 1 switch that should have been flipped to the other position) and that resulted in the images from that unit being upside-down. You’ve got to remember to flip things the other way when you’re in the southern hemisphere …

  9. “For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.”

    I’m sitting here looking out the window at the moon in the clear night sky, having just raised a toast of Reisling to this “steely-eyed missileman.”

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