Part 3 (E)
Man Circles the Moon, the Eagle Lands, and Manned Lunar Exploration
July through September 1969
Preparations continued on schedule for a July 16 launch of Apollo 11.
Edwin Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, and Michael Collins were in good physical
condition and on schedule for their training and mission preparations.
Descent and landing simulations were successfully completed. The
recovery ship U.S.S. Hornet was prepared for the recovery
operation. The Goldstone 64-meter dish antenna was ready to support
both the Apollo 11 and the Mariner requirements. [Mariner
VI and VII, launched February 24 and March 27, were
on their way to July 31 and August 4 flybys of the planet Mars].
Mission control and the worldwide network stations were completing
final simulation and tracking preparations, and the flight plan was
ready for distribution.
NASA OMSF, "Manned Space Flight Weekly Report - July 1,
The Interagency Committee on Back Contamination agreed to the
designation of the MSC Director of Medical Research and Operations as
the agent to impose a quarantine applicable to the crew, the spacecraft,
and the returned lunar materials during any phase of the Apollo 11
mission. He was authorized to appoint persons at each location and phase
of the mission who would have the responsibility of exercising the
quarantine authority if necessary.
Ltr., Apollo Mission Director George H. Hage to NASA General Counsel,
"Back Contamination and Quarantine - Apollo 11," July 2,
In an effort to stem the increasing number of human errors found in
flight hardware, the ASPO Manager appointed a spacecraft walk-down team
to take a first-hand look at spacecraft as late as possible before
delivery to KSC. Team members selected were highly experienced in their
respective fields and thoroughly familiar with the spacecraft. While
ASPO recognized that the team could not possibly discover all the
possible discrepancies, it hoped that the inspections might help avoid
some of the problems experienced in the past.
Ltr., G. M. Low, MSC, to R. A. Petrone, KSC, July 8, 1969.
The ASPO Manager for the command and service modules expressed belief
that costs could be reduced and others avoided by the effective use of
agency resources in many areas. However, he pointed out that the very
nature of the program - that is, one operating in a research and
development atmosphere - would result in higher costs than would a
Memo, Kenneth S. Kleinknecht to Manager, Apollo Spacecraft Program,
"Cost of manned flight programs," July 9, 1969.
Microscopic examination of dust particles collected from the spacecraft
after the Apollo 10 mission and of samples collected from the inside of
nine garments worn by the Apollo 10 astronauts confirmed preliminary
findings that the itching experienced by the astronauts was due to the
insulation in the tunnel hatch of the command module. Investigation
showed the fiberglass insulation had flaked off during LM
pressurization. Review of thermal conditions indicated the insulation
was not essential and it was eliminated from future vehicles.
Ltr., Kenneth S. Kleinknecht, MSC, to George W. Jeffs, North American
Rockwell Corp., July 9, 1969.
Apollo 11 (AS-506) - with astronauts Neil A. Armstrong,
Michael Collins, and Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr., aboard - was launched from
Pad A, Launch Complex 39, KSC, at 9:32 a.m. EDT July 16. The activities
during earth-orbit checkout, translunar injection, CSM transposition
and docking, spacecraft ejection, and translunar coast were similar to
those of Apollo 10. (See entry for May 18-26, 1969.)
The Apollo 11 space vehicle thrusts upward from Kennedy Space Center July 16, 1969, on the flight that fulfilled President Kennedy's May 26, 1961, challenge to land man on the moon and return him safely to the earth by the end of the decade.
At 4:40 p.m. EDT July 18, the crew began a 96-minute color television
transmission of the CSM and LM interiors, CSM exterior, the earth, probe
and drogue removal, spacecraft tunnel hatch opening, food preparation,
and LM housekeeping. One scheduled and two unscheduled television
broadcasts had been made previously by the Apollo 11 crew.
The spacecraft entered lunar orbit at 1:28 p.m. EDT on July 19. During
the second lunar orbit a live color telecast of the lunar surface was
made. A second service-propulsion-system burn placed the spacecraft in a
circularized orbit, after which astronaut Aldrin entered the LM for two
hours of housekeeping including a voice and telemetry test and an
At 8:50 a.m. July 20, Armstrong and Aldrin reentered the LM and checked
out all systems. They performed a maneuver at 1:11 p.m. to separate the
LM from the CSM and began the descent to the moon. The LM touched down
on the moon at 4:18 p.m. EDT July 20. Armstrong reported to mission
control at MSC, "Houston, Tranquillity Base here - the
Eagle has landed." (Eagle was the name
given to the Apollo 11 LM; the CSM was named
Columbia.) Man's first step on the moon was taken by
Armstrong at 10:56 p.m. EDT. As he stepped onto the surface of the
moon, Armstrong described the feat as "one small step for a man -
one giant leap for mankind."
Aldrin joined Armstrong on the surface of the moon at 11:15 p.m. July
20. The astronauts unveiled a plaque mounted on a strut of the LM and
read to a worldwide TV audience, "Here men from the planet earth
first set foot on the moon July 1969, A.D. We came in peace for all
mankind." After raising the American flag and talking to President
Nixon by radiotelephone, the two astronauts deployed the lunar surface
experiments assigned to the mission and gathered 22 kilograms of
samples of lunar soil and rocks. They then reentered the LM and closed
the hatch at 1:11 a.m. July 21. All lunar extravehicular activities
were televised in black-and-white. Meanwhile, Collins continued
orbiting moon alone in CSM Columbia.
The Eagle lifted off from the moon at 1:54 p.m. EDT July
21, having spent 21 hours 36 minutes on the lunar surface. It docked
with the CSM at 5:35 p.m. and the crew, with the lunar samples and
film, transferred to the CSM. The LM ascent stage was jettisoned into
lunar orbit. The crew then rested and prepared for the return trip to
The CSM was injected into a trajectory toward the earth at 12:55 a.m.
EDT July 22. Following a midcourse correction at 4:01 p.m., an 18-minute
color television transmission was made, in which the astronauts
demonstrated the weightlessness of food and water and showed shots of
the earth and the moon.
At 12:15 p.m. EDT July 24 the Apollo 11's command module
Columbia splashed down in the mid-Pacific, about 24
kilometers from the recovery ship U.S.S. Hornet. Following
decontamination procedures at the point of splashdown, the astronauts
were carried by helicopter to the Hornet where they
entered a mobile quarantine facility to begin a period of observation
under strict quarantine conditions. The CM was recovered and removed to
the quarantine facility. Sample containers and film were flown to
All primary mission objectives and all detailed test objectives of
Apollo 11 were met, and all crew members remained in good
health. (Objectives of all the Apollo flights are shown in Appendix
MSC, "Apollo 11 (AS-506) Flight Summary," undated; MSC,
"Apollo 11 Mission Report" (MSC-00171),November 1969;
"Apollo 11 Sequence of Events," July 30, 1969; KSC,
"Apollo 11 (AS-506) Quick Look Assessment Report," July 23,
1969; NASA Hq., "Mission Director's Summary Report, Apollo
11," July 24, 1969; Apollo 11 Mission Report (NASA
During the Apollo 11 mission, members of the Lunar International
Observer Network (LION) made continuous observations of a lunar area
where illuminations had been noted. At 18:45 GMT (2:45 p.m. EDT), the
astronauts sighted an illumination in the Aristarchus region, the first
time that a lunar transient event was sighted by an observer in space.
The sighting was confirmed by a LION observer in West Germany.
NASA OMSF, "Manned Space Flight Weekly Report - August 11,
July 27-August 1
The scientific experiments planned for the Apollo 11 mission were
reported successfully accomplished. The passive seismometry had recorded
a series of minor events and withstood temperatures of up to 364 kelvins
(195 degrees F). The average temperature in the central station reached
361 K (190 degrees F) at solar noon on July 27 and dropped to 243 K (157
degrees F) on July 31. MSC appointed a study group to investigate the
causes of the higher than predicted temperature levels. Lick Observatory
in California successfully acquired beams from the laser retroflector
on August 1 and was continuing ranging activities.
NASA OMSF, "Manned Space Flight Weekly Report - August 11,
To guard against cannibalization, misuse, or destruction of any part of
the lunar mission support equipment, spacecraft, and recovered
equipment (however insignificant it might seem) from the Apollo
11 mission, NASA Hq. specified the following steps: All
recovered items would be identified, recorded, and inventoried as soon
as quarantine, decontamination, and deactivation activities permitted.
All items would be placed in secure storage, under guard if necessary.
No removal would be permitted that would deface exterior portions of
the spacecraft or portions of the cabin visible through the hatch or
windows. No destructive testing would be permitted. Items returned to
contractors for testing would be under bond. Preparation for public
display would be expedited.
Ltr., Samuel C. Phillips, NASA Hq., to George M. Low, MSC,
"Control and Disposition of Apollo 11 Hardware," July 28,
NASA issued a tentative planning schedule for the Apollo program:
NASA OMSF, "Manned Space Flight Weekly Report - July 28,
|Flight||Launch Plans||Tentative Landing Area|
|Apollo 12||November 1969||Oceanus Procellarum lunar lowlands|
|Apollo 13||March 1970||Fra Mauro highlands|
|Apollo 14||July 1970||Crater Censorinus highlands|
|Apollo 15||November 1970||Littrow volcanic area|
|Apollo 16||April 1971||Crater Tycho (Surveyor VII impact area)|
|Apollo 17||September 1971||Marius Hills volcanic domes|
|Apollo 18||February 1972||Schroter's Valley, riverlike channel-ways|
|Apollo 19||July 1972||Hyginus Rille region-Linear Rille, crater area|
|Apollo 20||December 1972||Crater Copernicus, large crater impact area|
The Secretary of Defense announced the assignment of Lt. Gen. Samuel C.
Phillips (USAF), who had been serving as Apollo Program Director in the
NASA Office of Manned Space Flight, to be Commander of the Air Force
Space and Missile Systems Organization (SAMSO) in Los Angeles. He would
assume his new responsibilities in the Air Force effective September 1.
NASA Announcement of Key Personnel Change, "DOD Announcement of
General Phillips' Air Force Assignment," July 31, 1969.
During the Apollo 11 management debriefing, the ASPO
Manager noted a number of items requiring investigation. During
separation from the S-IVB stage, the CSM autopilot apparently had
difficulty determining direction of rotation. After the CSM hatch
removal, there was a strong odor of burnt material in the tunnel. The
leveling device on one of the experiment packages did not work. The
closeup stereo camera was hard to operate and tended to fall over. The
temperature in the lunar module was too cold during sleep periods. The
biological isolation garment was uncomfortably hot and its visor
fogged. The crew observed flashes at the rate of about one per minute
in the command module at night.
Memo, George M. Low, MSC, to Donald D. Arabian, MSC, "Apollo 11
management debriefing," Aug. 1, 1969.
George Low, James McDivitt, Neil Armstrong, and Edwin Aldrin discussed
lunar exploration that could be carried out by astronauts walking in
spacesuits or riding roving vehicles. The following conclusions were
reached: "a. A possible mode of exploration would be to walk 1
hour (3 to 5 miles [5 to 8 kilometers]) to an exploration site; spend 1
to 2 hours at that site; and then return to the LM. b. It would be easy
to carry anything that need be carried, provided that it did not
require the hands for the purpose. c. A roving vehicle might work if it
had extremely large wheels. There appeared to be no significant
advantage of using the presently conceived roving vehicle instead of
walking. d. All extravehicular excursions should be carried out by two
men at a time. e. Excursions should not be carried out beyond the
radius of ground communications."
ASPO Manager, Memo for the Record, "Lunar Exploration," Aug.
MSFC-NASA Hq. correspondence emphasized the need to restrict the lunar
roving vehicle to a 181-kilogram weight limit. If necessary, range and
speed would be traded off to retain this weight limit.
Ltr., Saverio F. Morea, MSFC, to William E. Stoney, Jr., NASA Hq., Aug.
The Interagency Committee on Back Contamination met in Atlanta, Ga.
Basing its decision on medical and biological data obtained during a
21-day observation period, the committee lifted the quarantine on the
Apollo 11 crew and the personnel in quarantine with the
crew. The CSM was also released from quarantine. However, all loose
equipment removed from the spacecraft and held in the Lunar Receiving
Laboratory would remain in quarantine until the lunar samples were
released. The committee also agreed that a postlanding ventilation
filter would not be required on Apollo 12.
Memo, Richard S. Johnston, MSC, to ASPO Manager, "Apollo Back
Contamination Program," Aug. 11, 1969.
During lunar module checkout activities at KSC, the LM-6 (for Apollo 12)
guidance computer was removed and replaced because of an unexpected
restart during panel revalidation.
NASA OMSF, "Manned Space Flight Weekly Report - August 18,
S. C. Phillips, NASA Hq., suggested that for communications on the lunar
surface a long, deployable antenna might work. He suggested that an
antenna about 30 meters long could be used. The antenna would be rolled
up like a tape measure and would curl into a cylinder when deployed,
somewhat like an antenna that had been used on the CSM.
Ltr., G. M. Low, MSC, to J. A. McDivitt, MSC, "Discussions with
General Phillips," Aug. 13. 1969.
The Lunar Roving Vehicle Task Team, which had been established at MSFC
on April 7, was reconstituted as the Lunar Mobility Task Team. Its
function would be to direct and coordinate MSFC efforts to conceive,
design, and develop various modes of lunar transportation systems.
MSFC Organization Announcement, "Lunar Roving Vehicle Task Team
Reconstituted as the Lunar Mobility Task Team," Aug. 18, 1969.
The Apollo 11 seismic experiment package on the moon was
reactivated. Indications were that the unit was fully functional. The
laser reflector was also operating well. Scientists at the McDonald
Observatory, Fort Davis, Tex., conducted ranging operations that
established the distance between the earth and the moon, to within an
accuracy of 4 meters as 373,794.3333 kilometers.
NASA OMSF, "Manned Space Flight Weekly Report - August 25,
MSC rejected a Grumman proposal to use the LM as a lunar reconnaissance
module. MSC pointed out that an MSC special task team had recently
studied a number of proposals for lunar reconnaissance. These included
use of a command module test vehicle, the AAP multiple docking adapter,
the subsystem test bed, the ascent stage of the LM, and the entire LM
Ltrs., Joseph G. Gavin, Jr., Grumman Aerospace Corp., to Robert R.
Gilruth MSC, July 18, 1969; Gilruth to Gavin, Aug. 20, 1969.
NASA named Rocco A. Petrone, Director of Launch Operations at KSC, to
succeed Samuel C. Phillips as Director of the Apollo Program effective
September 1. (See also July 31, 1969, entry.)
NASA News Release 69-124, "Petrone Named Apollo Director,"
Aug. 22, 1969.
In response to a query from MSFC, MSC took the position that primary
batteries as opposed to secondary (rechargeable batteries) should be
used to power the lunar roving vehicle. Concern was expressed that a
solar array recharge assembly would introduce an extra complexity into
the LM payload packaging and the roving vehicle servicing requirements
and would contribute to a loss in effective EVA time because astronauts
would need time to deploy the solar array and connect it to the rover.
Ltrs. Saverio F. Morea, MSFC, to John D. Hodge, MSC, July 14, 1969;
Hodge to Morea, "Power requirements for the Lunar Roving Vehicle
(LRV)," August 26, 1969.
Analyses of the radioactive decay of Argon 40 and Neon 21 in two lunar
samples indicated that the minimum age of the part of the Sea of
Tranquillity from which the samples were obtained was about 3.1 billion
years - plus or minus 200 million years.
NASA OMSF, "Manned Space Flight Weekly Report - September 2,
After the preliminary examination of Apollo 11 lunar
samples, the Department of the Interior made a number of
recommendations for processing samples to be brought from the moon by
the Apollo 12 mission.
Memo, E. C. T. Chao and R. L. Smith, Dept. of Interior, to W. Hess, A.
J. Calio, and P. R. Bell, MSC, "Recommendations and suggestions
for preliminary examination of Apollo 12 returned lunar samples,"
Sept. 6, 1969; ltr., R. S. Johnston, MSC, to Chao and Smith, Sept. 23,
The first reported weights of Apollo 11 lunar samples were
inaccurate because of a number of variables that could not be
eliminated until after quarantine was lifted, MSC told NASA Hq. Because
of the concern this inaccuracy had generated, procedures were being
developed for future missions to permit more accurate determination of
sample weights early in the Lunar Receiving Laboratory processing
Memo, George M. Low, MSC, to Rocco A. Petrone, NASA Hq., "Apollo
11 Lunar Sample Weight," Sept. 16, 1969.
The Interagency Committee on Back Contamination recommended changes in
Apollo mission recovery procedures, including:
Memo for record, Richard S. Johnston, MSC, "Apollo 12 Back
Contamination Program," Sept. 17, 1969; memo, Donald K. Slayton,
MSC, to Special Assistant to Director, "Crew comments on the use
of biological isolation garment (BIG)," Oct. 6, 1969.
- Elimination of the biological isolation garment and, instead, use of
a mask and clean room garment for astronauts returning from lunar
- Design changes to improve the spacecraft and mobile quarantine
facility tunnel operation.
MSC replied to a query that 136 flags of other nations, the U.N. flag,
and flags from each state and territory of the United States had been
flown on Apollo 11. The flags, measuring 10.16 cm x 15.24
cm and made of silkscreened rayon, were procured through available
commercial sources. Vacuum packed and stowed in Beta cloth bags for
flammability protection the flags were not removed from the containers
during the flight. The American flag left on the surface of the moon
would probably last for a considerable period, since the only
deterioration expected would be from the solar wind.
Ltr., Donald K. Slayton, MSC, to Mrs. Seddon Sadtler, ca. Sept. 19,
In response to a query from Guinness Superlatives, London,
as to the maximum distance from the earth reached by Apollo
8 and Apollo 11, MSC said the maximum distance for
Apollo 8 was 377,348.704 kilometers, during the 10th lunar
revolution. The maximum distance from the earth for Apollo
11 was 389,921.3764 kilometers, during lunar orbit insertion.
However, because of the requirement to exceed previously established
space records by 10 percent, the altitude achieved on Apollo
8 was still the recognized record.
Ltr., George M. Low, MSC, to Norris D. McWhirter, Guinness
Superlatives, Sept. 23, 1969.
James A. McDivitt was appointed ASPO Manager at MSC. George M. Low,
former ASPO Manager was temporarily on special assignment at MSC to plan
future MSC programs and work on organizational matters.
MSC News Release, 69-66, Sept. 25, 1969.
A Manned Space Flight Awareness seminar was held at MSC. The seminar,
attended by some 500 industry and government representatives, emphasized
the need for maintaining the dedication and motivation that led to the
success of Apollo 11.
NASA OMSF, "Manned Space Flight Weekly Report - September 29,