Forty years ago today we heard those words that we will never forget:

“The Eagle has landed” and  “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Those now-famous words by Neil Armstrong will always be remembered as what’s good about the 60’s and what was good about America.

To accomplish such a feat was thought to be almost impossible. America gained world-wide respect. Millions around the world watched our accomplishments. Today, space travel is much more global. In those days it was a race between 2 nations: USA and USSR. Regardless, to most of us back then, the journey seemed impossible, unbelievable; we stared in disbelief as we heard those words when two Americans walked on the surface of the moon. It left us filled with pride but also feeling numb.

Here are the highlights of the Apollo 11 Mission. In it you will see and hear the famous words as well as see Walter Cronkite’s reaction to the lunar landing. He was like a school boy.

 

There are 3 videos. The first shows the highlights of the Apollo 11 Mission.

 

 

 

The second video takes a look at some surprise encounters while in space:

 

To be honest, I had planned a different second video. This one seems too good to overlook.
This begs the question, are we alone? How much cover up has there been?

And then there is Buzz Aldrin. He is by far the most out-going of the original 3 astronauts. He is engaging, intelligent, adventuresome and many other superlatives. He has had bouts with depression and alcoholism. Neil Armstrong and Mike Collins have led quieter lives.

It seems like so many years ago. It also feels like yesterday.

21 Thoughts to “The Eagle Has Landed–One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

  1. Gainesville Resident

    Indeed, they played Cronkite’s reaction on the radio this morning on WTOP when I was driving into work. He sounded positively giddy! I kind of remember that – as I watched it with great interest, and remember staying up very late to see the actual moonwalk!

    By the way, Buzz Aldrin has led a very interesting life post-Apollo 11. He’s written a book on it which just came out last week. I know nothing about the book other than it’s description, which sounds interesting. On an impulse, I purchased it on my Amazon Kindle 2 device – where it is cheap ($9.99). The print edition lists for $27, but I’m sure it can be found at 40% off maybe.

    The title is Magnificent Desolation: The Long Journey Home from the Moon, by Ken Abraham & Buzz Aldrin (I believe that’s the name of his “ghost writer” for the first author). I have not read a page of it yet, just purchased it early this morning, so I don’t know how good it is or not. Print edition was published on June 7, 2009 and is 336 pages long.

    Here’s part of the description (which is lengthy, so I won’t type it all in here):

    Forty years ago, Buzz Aldrin beame the second human, minutes after Neil Armstrong, to set foot on a celestial body other than Earth. …. Describing the alien world he was walking upon, he uttered the words “magnificent desolation”. And as the astronauts later sat in the Eagle, waiting to lift off from the moon, kowing that they were doomed unless every system and every part on board worked flawlessly, it was Aldrin who responded to Misson Control’s clearance to take off with the quip, “Roger, Understood. We’re number one on the runway”. The flight of Apollo 11 made Aldrin one of the most famous persons on our planet, yet few people know the rest of this true American heroe’s story. In Mangificent Desolation, Adlrin not only gives us a harrowing first-person account of the luanr landing that came within seconds of failure and the ulitimate insider’s view of life as one of the superstars of America’s space program, he also opens up with remarkable candor about his more personal trials – and eventual triumphs – back on Earth. From the glory of being part of the mission that fulfilled President Kennedy’s challenge to reach the moon before the de3cade was out, Aldrin returned home to an Air Force career stripped of purpose or direction, other than a public relations tool that NASA put to relentless use in a seemingly nonstop world tour. The twin demons of depression and alchoholism emerged, the first of which Aldrin confronted early and publicly, but the second he met with denial until it nearly killed him. He burned through two marriages, his Air Force career came to an inglorious end, and he found himself selling cars for a living when he wasn’t drunkenly wrecking them. Redemption came when he finally ebmraced sobriety, gaines teh dlove of a woman, Lois, and dedicated himself to being a tireless advocate of the future of space exploration – not only as a scientific endeavor but also as a thriving commerical enterprise. These days Buzz Aldrin is enjoying life with an enthusiasm that reminds us how far it is possible for a person to travel, literally and figuratively.

    That’s about 50% of the very long description of the book – it sounds interesting, and personally I like stories about people who have overcome life’s trials and tribulations. I can imagine how after returning from the Moon, he had no place to go as far as “personal achievements” but down, as how can you top being the 2nd person to walk on the moon? It may be an interesting story to read – and I’ve read and heard pieces of it over the years – as he was in and out of the news at times talking about his problems. I’m glad to hear he is doing well, and I THINK this ought to be an interseting book to read. I have a backlog of books to read, so I’m not sure when i’ll get to it.

  2. Moon-howler

    Thanks, GR. TV is abuzz with all of this this morning, as expected. Looking back on the lunar landing, I honestly believe it was a miracle. We were all so naive when it happened.

    I think what really amazes me the most is how rudimentary computer were in those days and yet, without them Apollo `11 could have never happened.

  3. Moon-howler

    So many people saw it because the lunar landing July 20th was on a Sunday.

  4. GainesvileResident

    Indeed MH. That computer didn’t have much more memory or CPU power than your average caclulator these days. It became overloaded with data going into it too fast, and really they had to override it and just manually land the lunar module without any “guidance” from the computer – more or less by looking out the window and estimating how much thrust they needed to apply to slow their descent, but at the same time not run out of fuel before landing!!

    There was also the issue of the targeted landing site turning out to be a big boulder field. They nearly ran out of fuel on the way down, it was really a close call. I’ve read several accounts of the landing, it will be intresting to see what Aldrin’s account of it is like. All accuonts I read made it sound like it had to have been a very harrowing experience! The technology they had back then was very primitive, compared to what we could do tody as far as on-board computers go. The space shuttle can land fully automatically, although to my knowledge that has never been done.

  5. Moon-howler

    I would imagine that the average new model car probably has more reliable computer capability than Apollo 11.

    Still, I don’t think they could have accomplished that lunar landing without the use of computers, could they have?

    I did not know it was quite that touch and go.

  6. Moon-howler

    Not a soul has mentioned that there were UFOs involved in the lunar landing. Too many Xfiles for that to capture anyone’s imagination?

  7. Emma

    Buzz Aldrin punching out one of those annoying conspiracy theorists who believe we never actually landed on the moon. Go, Buzz!

  8. Poor Richard

    Enjoyed a great day yesterday attending my first Nationals game
    OK,they lost (who would have guessed?) but they were playing the
    Cubs, an old favorite, plus the weather and seats were excellent,
    but the best part was the company. My son had invited me to
    join his friends in the local chapter of the Purdue Alumni Club,
    a fairly large group for the event (mostly Cub fans).
    They reminded me that Neil Armstrong (and many of the other
    astronauts) were Purdue grads.
    GO BOILERMAKERS!

  9. kelly3406

    Even though he never landed on the moon, Jim Lovell was always my favorite astronaut. Through no fault of his own, he lost the opportunity to land on the moon, but managed to save himself, save his crew, and prevent a humiliating catastrophe for the U.S. space program. Under the glare of intense worldwide TV coverage, his outstanding decision-making and grace under pressure were virtually peerless. In the years since his “successful failure”, he has conducted himself with good grace and good humor.

    He was probably the best trained, best prepared astronaut of the period, yet he never got the opportunity to walk on the moon. I often wonder how he feels on these anniversaries of the Apollo program.

  10. Moon-howler

    Kelly, you bring up an excellent point. Not every one could walk on the moon or be on the showboat missions like Apollo 11. I had a hard time remebering Apollo 17, the second lunar landing.

    Yet each one of those early astronauts were critical to the mission(s). Some didn’t make it. Some paid the ultimate price.

    Emma, I agree. I would like to do that too, even though Buzz has gotten very eccentric.

    Poor Richard, I always thought all those astronauts were just fly-boys who were specially groomed. I didn’t realize Neil Armstrong was a Perdue grad. Many of them, unbeknownst to me, held advanced degrees in a variety of sciences.

  11. Moon-howler

    So, did all these astronauts see aliens or not? Obviously they saw UFOs, but what were they?

  12. Witness Too

    Off topic:

    I just got home from the V.O.I.C.E. event plus a late dinner. The event was attended by over 1100 people, including Gov. Kaine, Senator Warner, and Senator Webb’s chief of staff. There were 44 different churches and religious organizations. It was awesome! Virginia will not go down in history as an anti-immigrant state. It’s impossible now.

    It no longer matters how much longer the False Prophet and his dwindling disciples continue to howl in their digital echo chamber. The time of lies-feeding-fear-feeding-politics is behind us, PWC.

  13. GainesvileResident

    Getting back ON TOPIC: several astronauts have publicly come out and said they saw UFO’s while in earth orbit. And, no one can forget John Glenn talking about the “fireflies” he saw while in orbit that seemed to dance around his viewport. That COULD have been pieces of his reentry package flaking off – the jury is really still out on what all happened there (documented to some degree with liberties taken in the film “The Right Stuff”). Buzz Aldrin I belive claims to have seen a UFO while in earth orbit. Other astronauts have alluded to that, but also have claimed such talk is discouraged by NASA, which is not surprising

    I’m curious to see if Buzz talks about his UFO claims in his new book. I did read the first few pages of it last night (well, “screens” on my Kindle 2) and it looks like a really great read so far.

    I’m glad Emma posted about Aldrin going off at the “we never landed on the moon” conspiracy theorists! PBS (I think) once had a special on that, and they interviewed him at the time and he really went off on them and their “scientific evidence” that the whole lunar landing was faked! A bunch of crazy talk about camera angles, sun angles, the flag standing out straight in zero gravity, or that it appeared to flutter in a breeze which should be non-existent on the moon, etc. etc. Most of these people also belong to the “Flat Earth Society” which is even more preposterous! That TV show, something with a title like “The Lunar Landing Conspiracy” is good for laughs to watch, if it ever makes the rounds on TV again! They even talk to some ex-NASA guy, who was a technician there or someting, but he has done all these studies and came to the conclusion (somehow) that everything was faked! I think he’s seen that stupid movie with James Brolin & OJ Simpson (I’m not kidding) called “Capricorn One” where they faked a mission to Mars because NASA really couldn’t pull it off! He must have watched it too many times and thinks in real life NASA did the same thing! Yes, the whole moon landing was filmed on a soundstage! That makes LOTS of sense. Their contention is partly based on the fact we were in a big race with Russia to get to the moon, and couldn’t afford to lose, but also some of them are these “Flat Earth” types and just contend it isn’t possible to go out in space, or some such crazy notion!

    It will be interesting to see if Buzz has anything to say about those crazy conspiracy theorists in his book. I’d be happy to see him take another swipe at them in there!

    Kelly made a good point about Jim Lovell. He wrote an excellent book by the way – “Lost Moon: The Perilous Journey of Apollo 13” – I read it years ago and probably have it buried in boxes somewhere in my book collection. I forget when it came out (years ago) but obviously the Apollo 13 movie was based on it. The book is really good reading as I remember – although it may be 10 years since I read it! Highly recommended reading though. I looked it up on Amazon.com – looks like it is somewhat out of print but there’s a bunch of “Amazon sellers” or whatever they are called that have it up for sale, some of which claim to have “new” copies rather than “used”. Hard to really believe that, I see Amazon claims it was published in 1994! I thought it was maybe 10 years ago, but now I see it is 15! Time flies, I bought it when it came out and somewhere I have it in my unpacked moving boxes in hardcover edition!

  14. GainesvileResident

    Buzz Aldrin talks about his UFO encounter during Apollo 11 mission – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XlkV1ybBnHI

  15. GainesvileResident

    A very good summary of astronaut UFO sightings – http://www.ufocasebook.com/Astronaut.html

  16. Moon-howler

    GR, I became disenchanted when it go to the part where Neil Armstrong said they were warned off the moon by aliens. Could it be that Armstrong was pulling our leg?

  17. GainesvileResident

    You might be right MH. In fact, to be honest, this is the first I heard that account – that they in fact were met and warned off by aliens! It kind of took me by surprise. Actually, Armstrong has been fairly reclusive and not very talkative about the lunar landing as a whole, so it sort of suprises me he’d make such bold statements. I’m curious if Buzz Aldrin says anything like this in his book, as I know he claims to have seen UFO’s on the Apollo 11 trip.

    On a slightly different subject, I found a reference to the computers used in both the command module and the lunar module, which were used to calculate speed and distance, and time to perform various maneuvers, down to the split second. Believe it or not they only had 78 KB of memory (!!) and were just a 2 MHZ processor. Now, at that time, actually that was very advanced! This is because in 1981 IBM came out with the personal computer – which the early model had just 64 KB of memory, and was a 1 MHZ processor. So, what they had wasn’t too much different than an early home coupter. In any event, it is fairly well documented how overloaded the lunar module’s computer became during the landing sequence, and basically left them not knowing how fast they were really approaching the moon, etc. Again, it will be interseting to see what Buzz Aldrin says about that, in his book.

  18. Gainesville Resident

    For something really out there – there’s some conspiracy theorists that claim there was a classified Apollo mission to investigate UFO’s. They ignore the fact that it would have been hard to keep a liftoff of an Apollo spacecraft from being noticed. But for those interested, here’s some interesting links:

    http://www.cyberspaceorbit.com/walkaboutmoon.htm – has info about this “alleged’ mission

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3X5oucqQe4 is a YouTube video of probably doctored video from the moon where it appears to be showing an alien spacecraft on it! I’m sure someone played around with photoshop or something to create it. Also, notice the names of the alleged astronauts on the Apollo 20 mission – notice anything unusual??

  19. Gainesville Resident

    Even more bizarre videos on the alleged Apollo 20 mission at http://www.revver.com/u/retiredafb/

  20. Gainesville Resident

    And back to other conspiracy theories – here’s a website for that “Flat Earth Society – you can even join it if you’re interested (no thanks – that’s not anything I want to be a member of!) – http://www.alaska.net/~clund/e_djublonskopf/Flatearthsociety.htm

    As much as I think wikipedia often is inaccurate – it has a very elaborate summary of what the conspiracy theorists have to say about the lunar landings being faked – so I have to give them credit for having it all in one place – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_Moon_Landing_hoax_conspiracy_theories#Major_hoax_proponents_and_proposals

  21. Gainesville Resident

    That wikipedia link is a little long and somehow ends up at an odd place on the page – here’s a better link:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_Moon_Landing_hoax_conspiracy_theories

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