The Apollo Program was initiated in 1963 and was completed in 1972. The purpose of this program was to place a man on the moon, explore the surface of the moon, and develop the ability for man to work in the lunar environment (Loff, P.1). There were seventeen Apollo missions in total, however, only six of the seventeen placed man on the moon.
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Apollo 11 was the first of these missions to accomplish the goal of placing a man on the moon. (National Air and Space Museum) It was a televised event that the world will probably never forget. From the first footstep made by Neil Armstrong to the American flag that was proudly placed on the moon’s surface; the astronauts of the lunar module Eagle, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins changed history as we knew it on July 20, 1969.
On July 16, 1969, the world watched as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) loaded three astronauts aboard the lunar module Eagle that sat on a launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Once launched, the lunar module Eagle raced into space where it made one and a half orbits before getting the ok to head towards the moon. The Apollo 11 mission began and in only four short days the goal of the Apollo mission would come to fruition. Neil Armstrong, the first astronaut to step onto the moon’s surface, joined NASA in 1962 where he was command pilot on the Gemini VIII mission and later would become the spacecraft commander for Apollo 11. He was an educated man who studied aeronautical engineering at Purdue University on a United States Navy scholarship. Neil served in the Korean War as a pilot who flew combat missions. After joining NASA, Mr. Armstrong served as a test pilot to aircraft that could reach top speeds of four thousand miles per hour, he also served as an engineer (Biography.com, P.2).
When Neil Armstrong stepped on to the moon’s surface, the world watched in amazement. America achieved what many thought was impossible. We not only beat Russia to the moon, we were the first to step foot on it and Neil Armstrong’s words That’s one small step for man and one giant leap for mankind was forever embedded in history (Dunbar, P.1). Mr. Armstrong would go on to have many more accomplishments in his NASA career before leaving in 1971. Neil passed away at the age of 82, just a few weeks after receiving an open-heart bypass surgery (Biography.com, P.5).
Buzz Aldrin was the second man on the moon and he assisted Neil Armstrong with placing the American flag on the moon’s surface. Like Neil, Buzz was a pilot during the Korean War. He participated in the 1963 Gemini mission and was later chosen for the Apollo 11 mission. Buzz got his pilot experience while serving in the United States Air Force. Buzz held a doctorate degree and laid the groundwork for underwater training techniques to simulate spacewalking.
Despite his amazing career, Buzz admitted in his autobiography, Return to Earth, that he battled depression and alcoholism during his time with NASA. Once he obtained sobriety Buzz went on to write several books, appeared on many television shows, he played a small role in the movie Transformers, promoted space exploration by collaborating with Snoop Dogg and Talib Kweli to create a song called Rocket Experience and he inspired Disney’s Buzz Lightyear character. Here are a couple interesting facts about Buzz Aldrin, his mother’s maiden name was Moon (how ironic) and Buzz once punched a man in the face for saying the moon landing was fake. (who could blame him). Buzz Aldrin is currently 88 years old and doing well.
Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins left space on July 22, 1969, and returned to Earth on July 24th. They were required to remain in a 21-day quarantine as a precaution against uncertain threats of contagion (National Air and Space Museum, P.2). Once quarantine was complete, a ticker-tape parade was provided for the three astronauts, where New Yorkers dropped a record amount of paper products onto the streets to celebrate and welcome home the returning heroes (National Air and Space Museum, P.3).
(NASA, NASA, spaceflight.nasa.gov/gallery/images/apollo/apollo11/html/s70_17433.html)
Neil and Buzz’s legacy will continue to live on in the history books and in the stories, we share with new generations of space enthusiast. NASA, the astronauts, and the many hundreds of people behind the scenes that work together to make space exploration possible deserve a lot more credit than probably receive. Without these amazing people, we would never know what a moon rock looked like, how a person eats, drinks, sleeps, and works on a space station, or all the beauty our solar system offers. I hope pictures like this, help remind people of the work, dedication, and sacrifices made for good of mankind.
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