Apollo Expeditions to the Moon



[After docking] it's time to hustle down into the tunnel and remove hatch, probe, and drogue, so Neil and Buzz can get through. Thank God, all the claptrap works beautifully in this its final workout. The probe and drogue will stay with the LM and be abandoned with it, for we will have no further need of them and don't want them cluttering up the command module. The first one through is Buzz, with a big smile on his face. I grab his head, a hand on each temple, and am about to give him a smooch on the forehead, as a parent might greet an errant child; but then, embarrassed, I think better of it and grab his hand, and then Neil's. We cavort about a little bit, all smiles and giggles over our success, and then it's back to work as usual.

Newspaper headlines
No one knew it when Columbus first stepped on Watlings Islands, but every headline writer was challenged by the first manned Moon landing. The full newspaper coverage suggested by these front pages was just a part of it. Considering the nearly worldwide radio and television coverage, it has been estimated that half the population of the planet was aware of the events of Apollo 11.

Excerpts from a TV program broadcast by the Apollo 11 astronauts on the last evening of the flight, the day before splashdown in the Pacific:

COLLINS: ". . . The Saturn V rocket which put us in orbit is an incredibly complicated piece of machinery, every piece of which worked flawlessly. This computer above my head has a 38,000-word vocabulary, each word of which has been carefully chosen to be of the utmost value to us. The SPS engine, our large rocket engine on the aft end of our service module, must have performed flawlessly or we would have been stranded in lunar orbit. The parachutes up above my head must work perfectly tomorrow or we will plummet into the ocean. We have always had confidence that this equipment will work properly. All this is possible only through the blood, sweat, and tears of a number of people. First, the American workmen who put these pieces of machinery together in the factory. Second, the painstaking work done by various test teams during the assembly and retest after assembly. And finally, the people at the Manned Spacecraft Center, both in management, in mission planning, in flight control, and last but not least, in crew training. This operation is somewhat like the periscope of a submarine. All you see is the three of us, but beneath the surface are thousands and thousands of others, and to all of those, I would like to say, 'Thank you very much.'"

Photo of Gilruth, Low, Kraft, Phillips, and Mueller
Relief and jubilation greeted the safe splashdown of Apollo 11 . "Many of us still can't believe that the goal we set out to achieve in 1961 has been achieved", said George Low; and some of the parties that night have entered folklore. From right above - Gilruth, Low, Kraft, Phillips (looking down), and Mueller (partly behind flog).

ALDRIN: ". . . This has been far more than three men on a mission to the Moon; more, still, than the efforts of a government and industry team; more, even, than the efforts of one nation. We feel that this stands as a symbol of the insatiable curiosity of all mankind to explore the unknown. Today I feel we're really fully capable of accepting expanded roles in the exploration of space. In retrospect, we have all been particularly pleased with the call signs that we very laboriously chose for our spacecraft, Columbia and Eagle. We've been pleased with the emblem of our flight, the eagle carrying an olive branch, bringing the universal symbol of peace from the planet Earth to the Moon. Personally, in reflecting on the events of the past several days, a verse from Psalms comes to mind. 'When I consider the heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the Moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained; What is man that Thou art mindful of him?'"

ARMSTRONG: "The responsibility for this flight lies first with history and with the giants of science who have preceded this effort; next with the American people, who have, through their will, indicated their desire; next with four administrations and their Congresses, for implementing that will; and then, with the agency and industry teams that built our spacecraft, the Saturn, the Columbia, the Eagle, and the little EMU, the spacesuit and backpack that was our small spacecraft out on the lunar surface. We would like to give special thanks to all those Americans who built the spacecraft; who did the construction, design, the tests, and put their hearts and all their abilities into those craft. To those people tonight, we give a special thank you, and to all the other people that are listening and watching tonight, God bless you. Good night from Apollo 11."

[Portions of the text of this chapter have been excerpted with permission from
Carrying the Fire, © 1974 by Michael Collins, and
Return to Earth, © 1973 bv Aldrin-Warga Associates.]

Photo of three astronuats Aboard the Hornet in their quarantine trailer on the hangar deck, three buoyant astronauts chaff with the President of the United States. Compare their expressions here with those in the photographs before launch on this page.

Photo of Apollo 11 astronauts in Mexico City Sombreros replaced space helmets when crowds stalled a motorcade in Mexico City. In a 45-day world tour aboard Air Force One to 27 cities in 24 countries, the Apollo 11 astronauts received exhausting acclaim.

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