Saturday, July 20, 2013

July 20 - Apollo 11

44 years ago: Apollo 11, the fifth of NASA’s manned Apollo missions, was launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on July 20, 1969, nine years after President Kennedy said the United States would send a man to the Moon and return him safely to Earth. The mission’s computers had less processing power than today’s typical smartphone. Six hours after launch, astronaut Neil Armstrong stepped from the lunar module onto the Moon’s surface, followed by Buzz Aldrin, while Michael Collins remained in lunar orbit in the command module. Aldrin and Armstrong collected 47.5 pounds of lunar material for return to Earth. Though Armstrong took the first step on the Moon, Aldrin was the first to pee there, using a special bag within his space suit. Both astronauts left urine bags behind on the Moon, and all three suffered from troublesome flatulence because of hydrogen bubbles in their water. Moondust on their suits imparted an acrid smell similar to ashes and spent gunpowder. In today’s dollars, the entire Apollo program cost roughly $150 billion.

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