Apollo 11 lift-off

October 27, 2018 • 2:30 pm

Here’s a high-speed film the Apollo 11 rocket, the Saturn 5, taking off on its way to the Moon on July 16, 1969.  We see 30 seconds of actual time, but it’s slowed down to last nearly 9 minutes by the filming, done at 500 frames per second. The lunar module landed on in the (British) evening four days later and then, six hours thereafter—roughly 3 a.m. UTC (formerly GMT)—Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped onto the Moon. If you were alive then, as I was, you were watching it live.

I’m still amazed that humans could do this, but this bit, the launch, is new to me. The narration is really good.

32 thoughts on “Apollo 11 lift-off

  1. yes – fascinating and amazing, and the narration IS excellent. Too bad that so few spectacular events are described well, without exclamation marks, letting the event speak for itself, with only factual remarks.

    1. There is a narration style, which I associate with National Geographic, where every sentence has to be enunciated in a portentous and hyped manner.

      It starts grating quite quickly.

  2. And for calculations, they used Slide Rulers. I brought my slide ruler into class the other day when giving the exam; told the students that if they had forgotten their calculator, I would loan them my slide ruler. How precious the stares of bewilderment.

    1. When I first took physics, we used plastic slide rulers that were about $3.00 from the school book store. I continue to be amazed at how accurate they could be. Several students in the class brought newly available Texas Instrument calculators which probably coast over a hundred dollars.

  3. I’d like to recommend 2 books. The first is “Rocket Men” by Robert Kurson. It’s about the Apollo 8 mission of Borman, Lovell and Anders. They were the first to reach the moon, orbit it, take detailed photos and return to earth. The other book is “First Man: The Life of Neil Armstrong” by James R Hansen. It’s 700 pages but worth the effort!! Then go and see the movie “First Man” based on this book. You will feel like you went with them on this unbelievable mission. I also felt inspired by the integrity of these men, something that has almost disappeared from the world today.

    1. Does anyone know why the original hardcover and paperback are more than 700 pages but the recently issued april 2018 edition i bought and read last week is only 400 pages. The font cannot be that different. Is this new edition abridged? It does not say so. I loved the book, but would like to read the whole original edition if it is different. Jim hansen did add a few things that happened since the original, but where did almost 400 pages go?

      1. @Bat I’ve done some guessing below – I found a copy of the 2005 hardcover on Amazon.com & this is what I found [you van open hardcovers on Amazon & see chapter page numbers etc]

        784 PAGES
        2005, Hardcover
        ISBN-13: 978-0743256315

        The 784 pages INCLUDES these 135 pages at the back:

        Acknowledgements: 6 pages
        Notes: 64 pages
        Bibliography: 20 pages
        Index: 45 pages

        HWD 9.5″ x 6.2″ x 1.6″


        464 PAGES

        I strongly doubt that your 464-page mass market paperback/film-tie in is abridged – only the audio version is abridged I think. Maybe it lacks the parts after chapter 35 & has no photographs?

        672 PAGES
        Perhaps this has all the extras

        1. Tnx for digging up some details michael. Good point that it depends on what a page is to the publisher. My paperback…l think your 464 mass market one…is 389 of actual text with about 25 non numbered opages of photos, 50 back-pages of reference/acknowledgements/index, and several pages of front info. It is just as an old second generation nasa langley research center guy and fan of jim hansen’s past historical nasa writings, i really enjoyed the book and hate to think i missed out on anything.

      2. I am just guessing here but I did skip over pages as I read the 700 page edition. Those pages were filled with specific, technical descriptions of the planes he flew and other engineering stuff. It was easy to skip those pages without missing anything in the context of the story.

        1. The technical details are some of my favorite stuff as an aero engineer. But i also read it to understand more of the culture of that generation and armstrong himself as an engineering educated and warfighter trained pilot and his research pilot approach to his job as an astronaut. It was instructive for me to read that based on his experience with the lm free flight simulation and understanding the strength of the landing gear and crush pods, he had no issues with just dropping to the lunar surface if he ran out of fuel at or below 50 ft altitude. In moons gravity, i think that he would touch down at 23 ft/sec or about 16mph vertical speed.

  4. What a wonderful video. I was born in the summer of love so was a little too young to remember Apollo 11. I was totally captivated by later missions.
    I was lucky enough to have visited Kennedy Space Centre last month and it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
    In the “Apollo/Saturn V Centre” there is a full sized Saturn V rocket broken down to component stages literally hanging from the ceiling. I felt like a child again, seeing it in all of its glory.
    The variety and diversity of topics presented here is why I personally have visited this site for probably about five years.

  5. What a fantastic video, and as Jerry says, and Alexandra agrees above, the narration is excellent.

    I was 5½ in Jul 1969, and this mission is among my first memories. I even remember my mother feeding my youngest sister, who was just 4 months old, as we watched the first steps on the moon.

    1. The nozzles that we are looking at are 18 ft tall. So the standard technician (6ft tall from the tips of his toes to the top of his hard hat) would be dwarfed as only a third the height of each nozzle. They were 12 ft in diameter at the widest. Along with space shuttle…just amazing engineering. Also kudos to the russians for a successful soyuz abort last week. Not a simple accomplishment.

  6. If you were alive then, as I was, you were watching it live.

    Nope. It was the event that convinced Mum and Dad that we should get a TV. But the costs of Dad learning to drive and getting a car (because moving Mum and three young kids around in the sidecar of the motor bike was getting really cramped) put getting the TV off until … It was after the year of the blackouts, but before the year of the general elections. So, 1973, I think.

  7. Captivating! Would love to know what it feels like from the passenger cabin. (Who in their right minds volunteers to take off on top of these behemoth engines?! [Rhetorical question].)

    1. Forgive me Diane, but “passenger cabin”** has me in bits…
      “Would you care for the fish or the vegetarian option madame? The sea bass is particularly fine today”

      ** The 10′ tall teepee housing the three bags of intelligent water is the CM [Command Module] 🙂

      1. LOL, you’re absolutely right. 😀 I knew I should have looked it up before posting, since my brain (which did know the correct term at one time) wasn’t being of any help. But of course, my lazy genes were in full swing.

      2. Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are working toward providing a sconce more “passenger cabin” in space flight, but I doubt they’ll have service up to Diane’s standards for a while yet.

  8. I was there for the Apollo 11 launch. My brother worked on the Saturn V at Marshall Spaceflight Center in Huntsville, AL. NASA allowed about 3,000 workers and families from Huntsville to view the launch from about 3 miles away. I believe that we were standing where the Apollo Museum is located today.

    My best memory of the event was the sound. I was standing on a camp chair to get a view over the crowd and to take pictures with my Polaroid camera. When the sound wave hit us, it knocked me off the chair!

    Quite an experience to witness. Especially standing amongst the engineers, technicians, welders, etc. that designed and built the Saturn V.

    1. Nothing like being there. TV just can’t be doing it justice, but that’s all most of us had. You wuz lucky.

  9. Sadly, after watching the NASA launches for years, from Mercury, through Apollo, I had to work my restaurant job that Sunday evening. I missed it live, dammit!!😫😤😬🤬!!
    So when do we stop wasting $$ on x# years long “wars” in Afghanistan and spend it on human needs here on planet Earth or exploring worlds beyond our own?

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