“Neil Armstrong’s just reported back it’s been a real smooth countdown, we’ve passed the 60 second mark, power transfer is complete, we’re on internal power with the launch vehicle at this time, 40 seconds away from the Apollo 11 lift off, all the second stage tanks now pressurised, 35 seconds and counting, we are still go with Apollo 11, 30 seconds and counting, astronauts report it feels good, T minus 25 seconds, 20 seconds and counting, T minus 15 seconds, guidance is internal, 12, 11, 10, 9, ignition sequence starts, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0, all engines running , LIFT OFF, we have a lift off. 32 minutes past the hour. Lift off on Apollo 11″
The world watched and held it’s breath as these words were spoken. Forty years ago today on 16th July 1969 this countdown sequence accompanied the launch in Florida of the first manned mission to the Moon. Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins were making history and heading for the Moon. It would take them 3 days to travel the 250,000 miles at 7,000 miles an hour.
What an amazing achievement it was. With computer technology in it’s infancy compared with what’s available to each one of us today. There is more technology is the small mobile phone that I carry around with me than there was in Apollo 11.
The men who worked on this project, every one of them, were pioneers. Armstrong and Aldrin were the ones to walk on the Moon, but they couldn’t have done it without every man involved in the project. They were working at the cutting edge of technology, inventing things, doing things that had never been done before.
Man’s first journey to another world. Although it was Neil and Buzz who stepped on to the surface of the Moon, the spirit of the whole world went with them. They represented us, mankind, and took our hopes and future with them.
The interesting thing is that although they were exploring another world, one of the most amazing and enduring discoveries of the Apollo missions was that for the first time man was able to see the Earth, blue and beautiful, hanging in space. For the first time we saw photos of what our beautiful world looks like from space and it started to change peoples attitudes. We saw how small our world looked, and realised that we should stop wars and work together and care for and look after our planet.
Thank you to Neil and Buzz and the other 10 men who walked on the Moon on our behalf and changed us here on Earth.
See here for the countdown sequence and launch of Apollo 11 and here for a close up.
This photo of the Moon showing the Sea of Tranquility where Apollo 11 landed was taken by Astronomer B.A. Kinglsey who has kindly allowed me to use it on my blog. See here for his photostream on Flickr and how he created this amazing image.