Apollo Lunar Surface Journal

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 The Apollo Lunar Surface Journal is a record of the lunar surface operations conducted by the six pairs of astronauts who landed on the Moon from 1969 through 1972.i The Journal is intended as a resource for anyone wanting to know what happened during the missions and why. The astronauts from Apollo 11 were Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.ii The Astronauts from Apollo 12 were Charles Conrad Jr. and Alan Bean.iii The astronaut from Apollo 14 was Edgar Mitchell.iv The astronauts from Apollo 15 were David Scott and James Irwin.v The astronaut from Apollo 16 was Charles Duke.vi The astronauts from Apollo 17 were Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt.vii .

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The Apollo 11 was the first space mission to land on the moon and the crew members consisted of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Mike Collins. It took eighty six hours and five and a half lunar orbits to land.viii The whole Apollo 11 mission took 8 days, 3 hours, and 18 minutes.ix There were no seats in the LM, Armstrong and Aldrin were standing, held in place by elastic cords attached to the flooring.x After Apollo 12, scientific considerations were given considerable weight but, for the very first landing, the site was chosen entirely for operational reasons.xi During the Lunar Orbiter missions, the high resolution cameras had been focused on promising sites strung out along a 10-degree-wide band straddling the lunar equator.xii Equatorial sites were of interest because they could be reached with a minimal expenditure of fuel.xiii Sites were also sought at least 45 degrees west of the east limb of the Moon – the right edge as seen from the northern hemisphere on Earth – because the landers were going to orbit from east to west and Houston was going to need several minutes of tracking data so that the landing computer could be updated prior to the descent.xiv Eighty six hours and five-and-a-half lunar orbits into the mission, the crew of Apollo 11 settled down for their last rest period before the landing.

xv As Jack Schmitt relates in his Apollo 17 commentary, six hours of intermittent sleep in orbit can be as restful as six hours of uninterrupted sleep on Earth and, during the outbound trip from Earth, the Apollo 11 crew had been getting between 9 and 10 hours during each of the rest periods.xvi The final rest before the landing was necessarily a short one, but the three of them each got six hours of deep sleep.xvii When the wake-up call – answered by a very groggy Mike Collins – came at ninety-three hours into the mission, they were rested for the historic day ahead.xviiiFor sixteen minutes they looked out the windows and timed the passage of landmarks below them (across a scale marked on Armstrong’s window) to confirm the tracking data that Houston was getting.xix With Houston’s help, they also checked and double checked the health of the LM.xx 

They finally successfully landed and crew described what they saw out the window on a radio back to Earth. In all directions, the land was West Texas flat.xxi The circular horizon was broken here and there by the subtle rims of distant craters.xxii In the middle distance, Armstrong and Aldrin could see boulders and ridges, some of the latter perhaps 20 or 30 feet high.xxiii Close at hand, a hodgepodge of craters pockmarked the surface; and there were small rocks and pebbles scattered everywhere.xxiv It was a flat, level site but, as with Australia’s Nullarbor (Latin for “Treeless”) Plain, small variations gave the surroundings a subtle beauty of its own.xxv And, of course, because this was the very first landing on the Moon, everything was of enormous interest.xxvi However, before Armstrong and Aldrin could pay much attention to the view or think about going outside themselves, they had to be sure that they had a healthy spacecraft and that the navigation computer was properly loaded with the information needed to get them back to orbit for a rendezvous with Collins.xxvii Finally, two hours after the landing, they and the NASA engineers were satisfied that the LM was ready to come home and, therefore, that it was safe to stay for a while.

xxviii Six and a half hours after landing Armstrong took the first step outside of the spacecraft to make the well known one small step.xxix The soil was very fine grained and had a powdery appearance and, once he stepped down, his boot sank perhaps a couple of inches, making a sharply defined print.xxx Because of the Moon’s relatively weak gravity field (one-sixth as strong as Earth’s), Armstrong’s total weight – half astronaut, half suit and backpack – was only about sixty pounds.xxxi Movement wasn’t particularly tiring but because of the dramatic upward-shift in his center of mass caused by the backpack, he had to lean forward to keep his balance and it took a few minutes before he could walk comfortably.xxxii Aldrin joined Armstrong out on the surface about fifteen minutes later and for the next hour and forty minutes, the two of them examined the LM, moved the TV camera out about 50 feet, deployed a pair of scientific instruments, and collected more samples.xxxiii  For the first half hour or so, neither Armstrong nor Aldrin did more than a shuffling walk as they went about their work and it was planned, after this initial period of familiarization, for Aldrin to try to take advantage of the one-sixth gravity and try to run.xxxiv Starting from near the LM, he first ran toward the TV camera, rolling from foot to foot in a loping or, as Jack Schmitt calls it, a cross-country skiing stride.xxxv Then as he turned and ran back toward the LM, he used the same gait again but twice changed direction by sticking a foot out to the side and pushing off of it, rather like an American football running back.xxxvi Coming back toward the camera for a second time, he tried a kangaroo hop but decided that it didn’t give him as much fore/aft stability as he got with the loping gait.xxxvii

The Apollo 11 Lunar Surface Journal can be believed because not only does it include written statements from the astronauts, but also photos taken on the moon and recordings and audio taken from the crew members during the flight, although many people would say that the moon landing was faked by the government.xxxviii Many things can be learned about the society that produced this journal. Nations got really competitive to put the first man on the moon. How much effort put into this journal and the enthusiasm felt through this journal can show how proud the nation felt about getting the first man on the moon. This journal is really important and interesting. It shows how much hard work and technological advances went into being able to go to the moon and how far the government is willing to take a competition using taxpayers’ money. This journal also highlights the differences between the first trip to the moon and space travel now.

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