Sigificance Of The Apollo 11 Mission

Apollo 11On May 25, 1961, John F. Kennedy set the goal of landing the first men on the moon. This began project Apollo. The men who served on the project were brave, determined men. The project faced many obstacles including Apollo 1, where every soul was lost. But through all the challenges, mistakes were learned from, making the Apollo 11 mission successful. The men on Apollo 11, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins, are examples of true American heroes; alongside the rest of the astronauts.

Mission goals       

Apollo 11 was to be the first manned mission to the moon. This, however, was not their only objective. In addition, they would perform scientific exploration, transmit radio waves to earth, place seismic monitors, and collect lunar rock samples (Apollo 11 mission overview). Indeed this mission would not only be a great success, but it would also pave the way for future space travel and more moon landings. The Previous Missions       

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Apollo 1 was supposed to be the first manned Apollo mission. However, on January 27, 1967, during a preflight test, a fire broke out in the command module. This killed the entire crew (Apollo Missions).  The cause of the casualties was later determined to be from a faulty door that trapped the crew.  Even though this was a tragic accident it possibly saved many future lives. After NASA found the problem, they were able to fix it so it wouldn’t happen again.        

Apollo 7 was a test of the command module and the service module (Apollo Missions). The crew launched from Kennedy Space Center on October 11, 1968, and they returned on October 22, 1968. The tests ran as planned, except for a few minor bumps. Shortly after takeoff, one of the crew members developed a cold, and the rest of the crew soon caught the cold. This caused some concern with wearing helmets during reentry because the pressure of sneezing might blow out their eardrums.       

Apollo 8 was a test of the communication and path correction systems (Apollo Missions). Apollo 8’s other objective was to orbit the moon. On the morning of December 21, 1968, Apollo 8 launched. On December 24,  Apollo 8 allowed the first humans to see the dark side of the moon. Then on December 27, Apollo 8 reentered the Earth’s Atmosphere and was picked up by the USS Yorktown.       

Apollo 9 had the final test mission. Its task was to test the lunar lander. To do this, they would maneuver it in space and redock to the command module (Apollo Missions). On March 3, 1969, Apollo 9 launched from Kennedy Space Center.  Schweickart, the crew’s lunar module pilot, was supposed to have an  EVA, leave the spacecraft to test the external rescue techniques. This was canceled though due to nausea. This luckily was the only dilemma the crew faced on the mission.        

Apollo 10 was the last mission before Apollo 11. On May 18, 1969, Apollo 10 launched. The goal was to fully simulate the Apollo 11 mission except for the actual landing (Apollo Missions). Instead of landing they started the decent, but before they touched down, they fired the return rockets and docked to the command module. Scary Moments       

 For Apollo 11, everything went smoothly until the actual landing came. As soon as the lunar lander separated from the command module the problems came. When the LM separated, communications immediately got fuzzy and at times went out. But that wasn’t the only problem, during the decent an alarm went off.  The alarm was basically saying that the computer had too much to do, so it would shut down and restart. Back on the ground,  Houston was scrambling to figure the alarm out.  Houston said to go on, but this wasn’t the last of their problems (Pyle).  As Armstrong and Aldrin got closer, they realized they had overshot the landing zone and the area around them was full of craters.  Realizing this, Armstrong leveled off and searched for a level place to land.  Armstrong located a level patch, but their fuel was running short. At about 100 ft off the ground,  Houston radioed that they had 60 seconds of fuel left, and abortion was considered.  At about 10 ft they were down to 30 seconds, but finally, the Eagle landed. Even though they had landed their troubles didn’t stop. Houston detected a high amount of pressure in the left fuel line. It seemed as though the coldness of the  lunar landscape had seeped in and made an ice blockage (Pyle). As Houston considered what to do, the heat from the engine melted the ice and the problem was solved.  After 3 hours of post landing checks, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were ready to set foot on the moon. They started to depressurize the module.  When the pressure monitor read 0, they tried to open the door.  For some reason the door wouldn’t open. The pressure in the cabin was still too much to open.  Aldrin resorted to peeling the door back. Finally they could leave, however as Armstrong was climbing out his backpack snapped off the engine arming switch.  This was fixed by Armstrong who used a ballpoint pen to flip the lever.Accomplishments         Apollo 11 was obviously the first mission to land on the moon, but that wasn’t all they did. While they were there, they collected soil and rock samples.  They also took color photos and planted the American flag. During the 2 ?  hours they were there, they conducted experiments too. These included experiments on the soil, the surface, and the solar winds (Apollo 11).

The Astronauts        

Neil A. Armstrong was born on August 5, 1930. At the age of 2,  he developed a fascination with flying after his father took him to the national flying competition in Cincinnati. It grew even more after his first flight (Biographies of the Apollo 11 Astronauts).       

He received a scholarship from the Navy and enrolled at Purdue University. In 1950 he got called into active service, and he became an aviator flying missions off of the USS Essex. After the war, Neil became a test pilot and engineer for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, for 15 years.  Then in 1962, Neil became an astronaut during the second round of the NASA selection process. His first space flight was Gemini 8, the missions leading up to Apollo.  During the mission,  they were supposed to link up to the previous mission.  The link up went okay.  But after the two ships linked, they started to roll out of control. He saved the flight by unlinking and using the retro rockets to correct their course ( biographies of the Apollo 11 Astronauts).   Due to these incidents where he showed leadership, he was chosen to be the commander of Apollo 11 and the first man on the moon. After Neil landed back on Earth,  he was greeted with ticker tape parades and the Medal of Freedom, the highest award a civilian can receive.  After he left NASA,  he became a professor of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Cincinnati.  Then unfortunately on August 25, 2012, he died of complications from a cardiovascular bypass surgery.  Edwin (Buzz) E. Aldrin was born on January 20, 1930. He Attended the US Military Academy at West Point, and he entered the airforce. He was sent to Korea where he flew F-68’s (biographies of the Apollo Astronauts).  Then during 1963,  he was selected in the third round pick to become an astronaut. His first mission was on Gemini 12, it was a four day and fifty-nine revolution flight.  He was a key member of the Gemini project because he helped to solve the problem of linking up in space.        

Buzz Aldrin was the lunar lander pilot for the Apollo 11 flight. He was the second man on the moon.  Buzz stepped foot on the moon’s surface 20 minutes after Neil Armstrong. After he left NASA, he returned to the air force for one more year before retiring.         

Michael Collins was born on October 30, 1930, in Rome, Italy. Prior to joining NASA, he was a test and fighter pilot at  Edwards Air Force Base, California. He was then selected during the third round of the NASA astronaut selection process.  He piloted the 10 Gemini mission, and he became the third American to perform a space walk (Biographies of the Apollo 11 Astronauts). On the Apollo 11 flight,  he was the command module pilot.  His role would be to remain with the command module in lunar orbit.  In 1970,  he left NASA and became Assistant Secretary of State of Public Affairs.  Later he joined the Smithsonian Institute as the Director of the Air and Space Museum (Biographies of the Apollo 11 Astronauts). Today he is an aerospace consultant and writer.  He has written several books about his experiences and space. 

The Legacy        

In 2009, the National Air and Space Museum held a gala in honor of the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11. The speakers included every Apollo 11 astronaut (Redd).  Later when the astronauts offered autographs, the line stretched across the entire museum floor.  President George Bush announced that in honor of the 40th anniversary the U.S.A would go back to the moon; unfortunately we have not yet realized that promise.  Sadly 3 years later Neil Armstrong passed away. Now with the 50th anniversary, semicentennial, approaching in 2019, many special events will take place. The US Mint is preparing a special 50th anniversary coin to mark the occasion.  The National Air and Space Museum is redoing its moon exhibit in honor of this anniversary (Redd). In addition,  for the first time since 1971,  the Columbia Spacecraft, the triangular part that sat atop the command module, is going on tour with stops in Houston, St. Lewis, Pittsburgh, and Seattle.

CONCLUSION

This year, the remaining astronauts, Buzz and Michael, will turn 88. As astronauts age and pass away,  we must keep their memory and legacy alive. What they did, not only made America the leader in space, but united the world and connected nations. Today there is an International Space Station, where many countries live and work together.  What they did on the moon not only was a great accomplishment, but fulfilled dreams. They helped us find out more about who we are, our place in the universe.  They lead the way for millions who looked up to them and wanted to be just like them, inspiring many to shoot for their stars and be determined to reach their goals. Indeed they were just men and they didn’t do it all on their own, but they were brave, determined,  and courageous. They didn’t do it for the fame and rewards.   They had a dream and were gutsy enough to get in a rocket, launch themselves up into space, and land on the moon, with no guarantee of being able to make it back alive.  These astronauts were heroes who made this country and world proud.  The Apollo 11 mission was the crown jewel of the Space Race and will always be remembered throughout history.

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