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Man On The Moon! - Science/Technology - Nairaland

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Man On The Moon! by amiskurie(m): 7:05pm On Jul 20, 2012
MAN ON THE MOON - Apollo 11 Anniversary
July 20, 1969

An estimated 1 billion people on the planet Earth are watching or listening to transmissions from the Apollo spacecraft in lunar orbit All three U.S. television networks are on live. At 1:30pm U.S. Armed Forces Network radio is on live. In lunar orbit, Mike Collins has taken the controls of the Command Ship Columbia and gently undocks from the lunar lander, the Eagle.

In train stations and bus stations, ball parks and airports the sounds coming from the moonships and the crackling static are heard around the country. Briefly, for a fleeting moment in time, the entire American nation has come together as one to follow an event- this time, not a national tragedy but a voyage of exploration: humans on their way down to the surface of an alien world.

1:40pm EDT -
“The Eagle has wings!” Cries Buzz Aldrin and Apollo moves away from the Eagle. Slowly Columbia and Eagle pull away from each other but remain in the same orbit.

Eagle Has wings.
3:12pm EDT -
Now with both craft on the back side of the Moon, the Eagle’s engine fires up and begins to break the craft down into a lower orbit. The engine fires at 10 percent thrust for 15 seconds, then is gradually increased up to some 40 percent of its 9,970 lbs of capability.

The crew is flying with their feet first, face up. The craft speeds across the barren landscape below just 60 miles up with a low point of eight miles. At that low point they are to fire up for the final descent burn, riding a rocket’s tail of hot gas towards the lunar landscape.

3:47pm EDT -
Columbia’s Mike Collins calls the ground and reports that the Eagle is “on its way down” towards the surface. At 260 miles uprange from the touchdown point, the LM’s rocket engine fires again for its final burn -or PDI (Powered Descent Initiate). Now Eagle is dropping from 50,000 feet above the Moon to a low point of 10,000 feet. The engine is powered down to 6,000 pounds of thrust. But now, at 39,000 foot altitude, things begin to go wrong.

On the instrument panel, the Caution-And-Warning System alerts the crew that they are close to radar lockup. If this happens, their radar system will be unable to guide them towards the landing site. The crew quickly resets the switches for the system, and it returns to normal.

At 9,620 feet, the craft’s computer begins to send a series of alarms to the crew. These “1202” alarms warn that the computer was becoming overloaded with data inputs that were taking too long to process. Armstrong cleared the computer’s memory and asked Houston control for a judgment call. Mission Control calls the crew: go!

Just above 2,000 feet Armstrong takes manual control of Eagle briefly to check out the flight controls. The spacecraft is snappy and responsive. Below 1,500 feet, the astronauts are now scanning the landing site below. What they see concerns them. The autopilot is bringing Eagle down into a boulder-strewn field. At 500 feet altitude, concerned that the landing site was not suitable, Armstrong reached over and took control of the spacecraft away from the autopilot and the computer: he was flying the Eagle.

Using the ascent stage thrusters, Armstrong brings the Eagle laterally across the surface looking for a landing site. At 100 feet he stops the rate of descent, the begins it again slowly.

At 30 feet, peering through a cloud of dust stirred up on the surface of the Sea of Tranquility, Aldrin calls out that Eagle has less than a minute of fuel left in its tanks. Should they abort? Peering through the clouds, Armstrong sees a smooth area through a break in the dust. He has moved more than 1,100 feet across from the original landing point as chosen by the computer. Armstrong was still looking out the window when Aldrin calls: “Contact Light!” A small light has illuminated on their instrument panel, indicating that a probe in one of the LM’s footpads has touched the alien lunar soil.
With the engine still running, the LM drops down onto the surface. Armstrong shuts off the descent engine. All is quiet .In Mission Control Capsule Communicator Charles Duke calls to the crew “we copy you down Eagle?” At first there is only static. Then Armstrong calls across the generations: “Houston, Tranquility Base here-the Eagle has landed!”.

On the east coast of the United States it was 4:18pm EDT. In Yankee Stadium in New York city 16,000 people rose to sing the National Anthem as they stopped a baseball game in progress. At Grand Central Station, the thousands of Sunday travelers cheered so loud Aldrin’s last words before touchdown were not heard. In Trafalgar Square, London announcers screamed “the Americans have done it!”. In Japan, television viewers were told "a new age has now begun". In Mission Control Houston, flight controllers come to their feet cheering, breaking a tradition of silence.

It had been nearly exactly 8 years, 2 months since John Fitzgerald Kennedy had walked up the center aisle of the U.S. House of Representatives and made the lunar landing a national goal. In his CBS News control booth, newsman Walter Cronkite cannot speak. He turns to astronaut Walter Schirra and then says: "Man on the Moon!"It is Sunday, July 20, 1969.

The mission has been accomplished...

6:00 p.m.
With everything in order, Armstrong radios a recommendation that they plan to start the EVA (Extra Vehicular Activity), earlier than originally scheduled, at about 9:OO p.m. EDT. Mission Control replies: "We will support you anytime."

10:39 p.m.
Later than proposed at 6:00 p.m., but more than five hours ahead of the original schedule, Armstrong opens the LM hatch and squeezes through the opening. It is a slow process. Strapped to his shoulders is a portable life support and communications system weighing 84 pounds on Earth, 14 on the Moon, with provision for pressurization; oxygen requirements and removal of carbon dioxide.

Armstrong moves slowly down the 10-foot, nine-step ladder. On reaching the second step, he pulls a "grin-ring," within easy reach, deploying a television camera, so arranged on the LM that it will depict him to Earth as he proceeds from that point.

Down the ladder he moves and halts on the last step. "I'm at the foot of the ladder," he reports. "The LM footpads are only depressed in the surface about one or two inches. . . the surface appears to be very, very finegrained, as you get close to it, it's almost like a powder."

10:56 p.m.
Armstrong puts his left foot to the Moon. It is the first time in history that man has ever stepped on anything that has not existed on or originated from the Earth.

"That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind," Armstrong radios. Aldrin is taking photographs from inside the spacecraft.

The first print made by the weight of man on the Moon is that of a lunar boot which resembles an oversized galosh.

Its soles are of silicon rubber and its 14-layer sidewalls of aluminized plastic. Specially designed for super-insulation, it protects against abrasion and has reduced friction to facilitate donning. On Earth, it weighs four pounds, nine ounces. on the Moon, 12 ounces.

Armstrong surveys his surroundings for a while and then moves out, testing himself in a gravity environment one-sixth of that on Earth. "The surface is fine and powdery," he says. "I can pick it up loosely with my toe. It does adhere in fine layers like powdered charcoal to the sole and sides of my boots. I only go in a small fraction of an inch. Maybe an eighth of an inch, but I can see the footprints of my boots and the treads in the fine sandy particles.

"There seems to be no difficulty in moving around as we suspected. It's even perhaps easier than the simulations...."

Feeling more confident, Armstrong begins making a preliminary collection of soil samples close to the landing craft. This is done with a bag on the end of a pole.

"This is very interesting," he comments. "It's a very soft surface, but here and there . . . I run into a very hard surface, but it appears to be very cohesive material of the same sort.... It has a stark beauty all its own. It's like much of the high desert of the United States."

He collects a small bagful of soil and stores it in a pocket on the left leg of his space suit. This is done early, according to plan, to make sure some of the Moon surface is returned to Earth in case the mission has to be cut short.

11:11 p.m.
After lowering a Hasselblad still camera to Armstrong, Aldrin emerges from the landing craft and backs down the ladder, while his companion photographs him.

"These rocks . . . are rather slippery," Armstrong says. The astronauts report that the powdery surface seems to fill up the fine pores on the rocks, and they tend to slide over them rather easily.

Armstrong fits a long focal length lens into position on the TV camera and trains it upon a small, stainless steel plaque on one of the legs of the landing craft. He reads: "Here men from the planet Earth first set foot on the Moon. July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind." Below the inscription are the names of the Apollo crew and President Nixon.

Armstrong next removes the TV camera from its fixed position on the LM and moves it away about 40 feet so it can cover the area in which the astronauts will operate.

As scheduled, the astronauts set up the first of three experiments. From an outside storage compartment in the LM, Aldrin removes a foot-long tube containing a roll of aluminum foil. Inside the roll is a telescoped pole that is driven into the lunar surface, after which the foil is...

...suspended from it, with the side marked "Sun" next to the Sun. Its function will be to collect the particles of "solar wind" blowing constantly through space so that they can be brought back and analyzed in the hope they will provide information on how the Sun and planets were formed.

11:41 p.m.
From a leg of the spacecraft, the astronauts take a three-by-five-foot, nylon United States flag, its top edge braced by a spring wire to keep it extended on the windless Moon and erect it on a staff pressed into the lunar surface.

Taken to the Moon are two other U.S. flags, to be brought back and flown over the houses of Congress, the flags of the 50 States, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories, the United Nations flag, as well as those of 136 foreign countries.

11:47 p.m.
Mission Control announces: "The President of the United States is in his office now and would like to say a few words to you." Armstrong replies: "That would be an honor."

11:48 p.m.
The astronauts listen as the President speaks by telephone: "Neil and Buzz. I am talking to you from the Oval Room at the White House. And this certainly has to be the most historic telephone call ever made For every American this has to be the proudest day of our lives. And for people all over the world I am sure they, too, join with Americans in recognizing what a feat this is. Because of what you have done, the heavens have become a part of man's world. As you talk to us from the Sea of Tranquillity, it inspires us to redouble our efforts to bring peace and tranquility to Earth. For one priceless moment, in the whole history of man, all the people on this Earth are truly one."

As the President finishes speaking, Armstrong replies: "Thank you, Mr. President. It's a great honor and privilege for us to be here representing not only the United States but men of peace of all nations. And with interest and a curiosity and a vision for the future. It's an honor for us to be able to participate here today."

The two astronauts stand at attention, saluting directly toward the television as the telephone conversation concludes.

Armstrong next sets up a folding table and opens on it two specimen boxes. Using tongs and the lunar scoop, a quantity of rocks and soil are picked up and sealed in the boxes, preparatory to placing them in the ascent stage of the landing craft.

Aldrin, meanwhile, opens another compartment in the ship and removes two devices to be left on the Moon, taking each out about 30 feet from the ship. One is a seismic detector, to record moonquakes, meteorite impact, or volcanic eruption, and the other a laser-reflector, a device designed to make a much more precise measurement of Earth-Moon distances than has ever been possible before.

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