Apollo 11 was the spaceflight that landed the first humans on the Moon, Americans Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, on July 20, 1969, at 20:18 UTC. Armstrong became the first to step onto the lunar surface six hours later on July 21 at 02:56 UTC. Armstrong spent about two and a half hours outside the spacecraft, Aldrin slightly less, and together they collected 47.5 pounds (21.5 kg) of lunar material for return to Earth. The third member of the mission, Michael Collins, piloted thecommand spacecraft alone in lunar orbit until Armstrong and Aldrin returned to it just under a day later for the trip back to Earth.
Commander Neil A. Armstrong
Command Module Pilot Michael Collins
Lunar Module Pilot Edwin "Buzz" E. Aldrin, Jr.
Cliff Charlesworth (Green Team), launch and EVA
Gene Kranz (White Team), lunar landing
Glynn Lunney (Black Team), lunar ascent
Columbia and Eagle
The name that the crew chose for the command module was Columbia. This name was derived from the name of the spaceship in Jules Verne's science fiction classic, "From The Earth To The Moon." In that book Columbiad was the name of the first spaceship that traveled to the Moon. Backup Apollo 11 Commander James Arthur Lovell, Jr. is credited for suggesting this name.
The name chosen for the Lunar Module was Eagle. The bald eagle is the national bird of the United States and is symbolic of the nation's love for freedom..
Program Alarm 1202
The descent to the Moon was very nerve wracking. Several times during the descent warning alarms sounded in the Lunar Module. At 4 days, 6 hours, 38 minutes, and 26 seconds into the flight Armstrong reported,
At 4 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes, and 10 seconds into the flight, CAPCOM Duke advised the crew, "Eagle, Houston. You are GO for landing over." LMP Aldrin responded, "Roger. Understand. GO for landing. 3000 feet. PROGRAM ALARM." CAPCOM Duke acknowledged, "Copy." LMP Aldrin reported the alarm type, "1201." CDR Armstrong acknowledged, "1201." CAPCOM Duke informed the crew, "Roger. 1201 alarm. We're GO. Same type. We're GO."
"PROGRAM ALARM." CAPCOM Duke responded, "It's looking good to us. Over." CDR Armstrong added,"It's a 1202." LMP Aldrin confirmed, "1202." Armstrong requested clarification on the alarm from Mission Control, "Give us a reading on that 1202 PROGRAM ALARM." CAPCOM Duke answered, "Roger. We got - We're GO on that alarm."
The landing computer was having trouble keeping up with all of the data. Each time an alarm sounded, Mission Control in Houston evaluated the problem and assured the crew that they were still GO for landing. Flight Controller Steve Bales became a hero that day. Controller Bales was the person who was responsible for the Lunar Module computer. It would be his decision to either continue with the landing or abort. Split second decisions were required of Bales and his support team as there was no margin for error.
Only 10 seconds of Fuel left
As they approached the surface Armstrong and Aldrin found that they were headed directly into a field of boulders that would be unsuitable as a landing site. Armstrong took manual control and maneuvered the LM away from the hazard.
At 4 days, 6 hours, 55 minutes, and 16 seconds Armstrong explained what occurred during final landing phase to Mission Control. CDR Armstrong radioed,
"Hey, Houston, that may have seemed like a very long final phase. The AUTO targeting was taking us right into a football-field size - football-field sized crater with a large number of big boulders and rocks for about ... one or two crater diameters around it, and it required a ... in P66 and flying manually over the rock field to find a reasonably good area."
Finally, they had reached a suitable spot and Armstrong lowered the LM towards the surface. The Lunar Module had probes protruding from three of it's landing struts to tell the crew via a light on the control panel when they were close enough to the surface to shut off the descent engine.
The landing of Apollo 11 had not been very precise. It took quite some time for the scientists and engineers to determine exactly where Apollo 11 had landed on the Moon. The imprecision was caused by the significant variations of lunar gravity during the course of a lunar orbit. It was difficult to predict the exact orbit of a lunar spacecraft due to concentrations of dense material in the lunar sphere known as Mascons.
Mission Timer was broken
Armstrong noticed that the mission timer inside of the Lunar Module had stopped. The mission timer was critical for know when to when to fire the ascent engine for Lunar liftoff to achieve a proper rendezvous with the Command Service Module.
"And Houston, our mission timer is now reading 902 34 47 and static." CAPCOM Duke responded, "Roger. Copy your mission timer's now static."
With the timer functionality in question, the decision was made to leave Armstrong's wristwatch inside of the Lunar Module during the EVA. Aldrin would wear his watch and it would be the first wristwatch on the lunar surface.
Sacrament of communion on the Moon
At 4 days, 9 hours, 25 minutes, and 38 seconds into the mission Aldrin radioed,
"This is the LM pilot. I'd like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the last few hours and to give thanks in his or her own way."
During that pause, Aldrin celebrated the sacrament of communion on the Moon. He had brought along a miniature chalice in his personal preference kit along with a tiny amount sacramental wine and a wafer. In radio silence, Aldrin performed and abbreviated communion ceremony on the Moon.
"During those first hours on the moon, before the planned eating and rest periods, I reached into my personal preference kit and pulled out the communion elements along with a three-by-five card on which I had written the words of Jesus: "I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, and I in him, will bear much fruit; for you can do nothing without me." I poured a thimbleful of wine from a sealed plastic container into a small chalice, and waited for the wine to settle down as it swirled in the one-sixth Earth gravity of the moon. My comments to the world were inclusive: "I would like to request a few moments of silence ... and to invite each person listening in, wherever and whomever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours, and to give thanks in his or her own way." I silently read the Bible passage as I partook of the wafer and the wine, and offered a private prayer for the task at hand and the opportunity I had been given.
Neil watched respectfully, but made no comment to me at the time.
Perhaps, if I had it to do over again, I would not choose to celebrate communion. Although it was a deeply meaningful experience for me, it was a Christian sacrament, and we had come to the moon in the name of all mankind — be they Christians, Jews, Muslims, animists, agnostics, or atheists. But at the time I could think of no better way to acknowledge the enormity of the Apollo 11experience that by giving thanks to God. It was my hope that people would keep the whole event in their minds and see, beyond minor details and technical achievements, a deeper meaning — achallenge, and the human need to explore whatever is above us, below us, or out there..'
The Apollo Operations Handbook (AOH) is the primary means of documenting LM descriptions and procedures. The AOH is published in two separately bound volumes. This information is useful in support of program management, engineering, test, flight simulation, and real time flight support efforts. This volume contains crew operational procedures: normal, backup, abort, malfunction, and emergency. These procedures define the sequence of actions necessary for safe and efficient subsystem operation.
Apollo 11 key events