50 years of the great mission "Apollo 11" bound for the Moon (July-1969)

50 years have passed since the historic mission "Apollo 11" to the Moon. Those days from July 16 to 24, 1969, were unforgettable for me. I was 12 years old and, despite his young age, I remember that on the morning of July 16 he started the countdown to the launch from Cape Canaberal in the United States. USA UU., Saturn V Rocket, which would propel Apollo 11 to the Moon.

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That day, July 16, 1969, everyone in my house was in front of the black and white television to watch the launch of the Saturn V rocket. This event managed to capture the attention of millions of people around the world; And the question that many people asked at that time was: Could the astronauts arrive and return alive after this long journey? And on July 21, the world heard the news that "Armstrong had put his left foot on the surface of the Moon", pronouncing the famous phrase that would go down in history: "A small step for a man and a great leap for humanity". followed by his companion Aldrin.

Brief review of the attempts to travel to the Moon.

Attempts to reach the Moon, with unmanned probes, began in 1958, the year in which the United States launched the Pioneer probes without success. In 1959, the Russians managed to crash a Lunik probe on the lunar surface, and in the same year they photographed the hidden face of the moon with another probe, which produced a real sensation, later the American "Ranger" probes, which crashed the lunar surface, took close-up photographs of the moon.

Manned space travel began in 1961, when Gagarin, with the Vostok I, surrounded the Earth and it was in 1966 when the Russian probe Lunik 9, alunizo gently and revealed that the Moon had a relatively firm surface, able to support moderate weights; then it was admitted that the man could really put his foot on the Moon.

Images: Vostok 1 orbiting the Earth, 1961


The trip to the moon, a mission come true.

Finally, with the help of the Lunar Orbitter series, placed in orbit around the Moon, the Americans obtained the necessary cartographic documentation for a manned landing, which after four tests with manned spacecraft from the United States, from Apollo VII to Apollo X, The first trip with the crew to the Moon was scheduled, with the Apollo Mission 11, and on July 16, 1969 it became a reality.

July 16, 1969: launch of the Saturn V rocket

That July 16, 1969, the trip to the moon becomes a reality, that day takes place the takeoff of the Saturn V rocket that would propel the Apollo 11 to the Moon and later, on July 20, 1969, at 21.17 Spanish time. . , astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin made landfall, with the lunar ship Eagle (Eagle), in the Sea of Tranquility. On July 21, at 2:56 (UTC international time), Armstrong descended to the lunar surface by placing his boot on the left foot on the surface, followed by Aldrin, while his partner Michael Collins, aboard the Columbia, remained in orbit. around the moon.


Objective of the Apollo 11 mission

The main objective of the mission was to take the man to the Moon, collect samples of the surface of Selenita and leave an experimental team that would work after the astronauts returned to Earth.
For about two and a half hours, the astronauts walked on the lunar surface, which turned out to be firm and easily passable; They took a lot of photographs, collected about 30 kg of lunar material and placed scientific devices on the ground.

"Surrounded by steps, on the lunar dust, rests a panel about 60 cm wide covered by 100 mirrors that point to the Earth: the" retroreflective matrix of measurement of the lunar laser "(reflectors LR-3)"

Retro reflectors placed on the moon, in the apollo mission XI:


Apollo 11 astronauts, Edwin Aldrin and Neil Armstrong, placed these panels there on July 21, 1969, an hour before the end of their last lunar walk, this is the only scientific experiment of the Apollo that allowed to measure with greater precision the distance between Earth and its natural satellite, which we now know is 384,403, and this is achieved by aiming at these reflectors with a telescope that has a powerful laser beam to measure the moment when the ray of light returns to Earth.

The journey back to Earth

On July 21, at 18.54, the cockpit of the command module took off from the moon and on July 24 this module landed in the Pacific Ocean. However, until August 11, the three astronauts could not leave the quarantine to which they had been subjected immediately after landing, so that the possible microorganisms of the Moon could not infect the Earth.

Brief description of the Saturn V Rocket and the Apollo 11 Ship on its journey to the Moon

Saturn V, was a liquid fuel rocket, which took the Apollo ship to the Moon. The design of Saturn V, was in charge of the German scientist Wernher von Braun and his team. The ship was driven by three phases that went on successively and were eliminated when they were consumed. The Apollo ship had three men and weighed about 45 tons, located at the top, the entire rocket weighed almost 2900 tons.


The ship is launched from Earth, aided by the rotation of this, then this rotation is adjusted in the orbit, when phase three is turned on, at this stage the speed increases, to send the Apollo ship out of orbit terrestrial and place it on the way to the Moon. This design of Saturn V, was in charge of the German scientist Wernher Von Braun and his team, to put into orbit the ship and continue its journey to the moon by the impulse received.

As for the Command Module and the Service Module, these are inverted and the first is coupled to the Lunar Module that is extracted from the third phase, then the ship brakes to enter the orbit of the Moon and two men go to the Moon . Module and "Alunizan", the service and command modules continue in orbit, after 24 hours on the Moon, part of the cockpit of the lunar module is coupled in orbit with the rest of the ship, after this coupling, the men those who return. the Module command, the cockpit of the lunar module is still in orbit and the two modules, the command and service module, begin their return to Earth and leave the lunar module Eagle. Later, before entering the Earth's atmosphere, the command module leaves the service module. that is, that the command module is the only ship that returns to Earth with the astronauts.

Command module "Columbia"


Mission Time

The day for the takeoff was July 16, 1969, the arrival on the Moon on the 21st and the return to Earth on the 24th of that same month. The mission was carried out for 8 days.

Contributions from the Apollo 11 Mission

  • After this mission it was known that "the Moon was part of the Earth, but a planet roughly the size of Mars brushed against the terrestrial planet and the fragments that were scattered through space approached each other growing, forming Moon.

  • The Apollo 11 mission took samples of materials that later, with a geological study: There is knowledge about the formation of the Moon.

  • Also, thanks to the reflectors that were placed on the lunar surface, it was known that the Moon is 3 centimeters away from the Earth.

Summary of the APOLO 11 mission:

  • Commander of the mission: Neil A. Armstrong, 38 years old, civilian.

  • Command Module pilot: Michael Collins, 38 years old, Lieutenant Colonel of the United States Air Force.

  • Pilot of the Lunar Module: Eugene "Buzz" Aldrin, 39, Colonel of the United States Air Force

  • Release date: July 16, 1969 13:32:00 UTC

  • Date of landing: July 20, 1969 20:17:40 UTC

  • First step on the lunar surface: July 21, 1969 02:56:15 UTC

  • Place of landing: Sea of ​​Tranquility (Mare Tranquilitatis)

  • Area traveled: 250 meters

  • Samples of collected rocks: 21.7 kilos

  • Cargement special: commemorative plaque, two US flags, flags (size without specifying) of other countries and the states of the American Union.

  • Duration of the mission: 195 hours 18 minutes 35 seconds.

  • Commemorative -Mineral: Armalcolite is a compound of magnesium, iron, titanium and oxygen.

References: Source


Hi oscarcede,

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I was born 5 month after this historic event so guess who is also having a 50th this year. I cannot believe it. Feels like yesterday we learned about this in school and it was then only a few years that passed. Thank you for the interesting post

This mission is really a testament to what we can achieve if we work together, the samples recovered from the moon changed how we see the moon and planet formation, I'm really thankful for the combination of political and scientific climate plus the ingenuity of those who embarked on this journey on the rocket as well as those helping from here, thanks for sharing!

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Hello, @elfranz, I am sorry I did not respond to your comments before, due to Internet failures. I thank @curie for supporting this post. and, at the same time, I am pleased that she has been nominated for the presentation of authors. Greetings.

That mission was very difficult to overcome, because it was a very popular event, the truth from that historical fact until now we have advanced rapidly, this reminded me that a movie came out last year if I am not wrong about the process of that trip!