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50 years on the journey to Apollo 11, a giant leap into the unknown


Apollo 11's journey to the Moon was carried out according to plan (representative image)


The first four days of the Apollo 11 trip to the Moon took place according to plan, but only twenty minutes before landing, the atmosphere grew when the crew encountered a series of problems.

It was July 20, 1969, and when the world followed the progress of the spacecraft, he briefly lost radio contact with the control of missions in Houston.

After the Eagle lunar module was in the midst of its descent, it was led by Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin and Mission Commander Neil Armstrong.

Eagle resigned two hours ago from the main part of the vessel, Command Module Columbia, where the third member of the crew, Michael Collins, remained in orbit.

It was a restless moment for Armstrong, a brilliant pilot pilot and aviation engineer, but a man with a few words.

"Give us a read about the program 1202 Alarm," the radio monitor controls the mission. They are told to continue. Houston is aware that there is spillover on the computer, but all systems are functional.

Underneath there are shell craters that quickly descend. Armstrong is too quick to be aware: this speed will exceed the landing place for a few miles.

Switches to manual control and exits from its window to exit the new landing. However, it is difficult to find the perfect place, and this will be tight.

"Pretty rocky area," says Aldrin.

Aldrin continues to communicate speed and height information from his computer. "It comes nice," he says.

"Right in this crater," replied Armstrong.

Meanwhile, fuel is quickly exhausted.

Houston continues to announce how many seconds left to "Bingo fuel call" – the point where Eagle will have 20 seconds to land, or cancel the mission.

Now there's 30 seconds of Bingo.

Armstrong, who collects all his experiences, is quietly focusing on.

The module stops on the ground. "Contact light," says Aldrin, which means one of the foot sensors touched his legs. The engines are off.

"Houston, Tranquility Base here." Eagle agreed, "predicts Armstrong.

"We're copying you on the floor, you have a bunch of men who will become blue. We're breathe again. Thank you very much," answered Charlie Duke, Capcom communicator or capsule on the ground.

Nazi rocket man
The history says that the number of people working on the Apollo program was 400,000. But two numbers rise above the others for their contributions.

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy called his Vice President Lyndon Johnson to defeat the Soviets in space.

"We are in a strategic space race with the Russians and we are losing," wrote Kennedy in a magazine a year earlier. "If a man is circling around the earth this year, his name will be Ivan."

Johnson joins NASA's Space Program: Wernher von Braun.

The former Nazi card holder was the inventor of the V-2 missiles that destroyed London in the Second World War.

Towards the end of the war, he surrendered to the Americans who brought him and one hundred of his best engineers to Alabama, as part of a secret operation.

Von Braun told Johnson that when they were far behind, the US could defeat the Russians when they put men on the moon if they immediately started working on huge rockets.

Kennedy will later turn to Congress, and he will commit at the end of the decade to "land on the Moon and safely return it to Earth".

Eight years later, Richard Nixon was president when the goal was realized.

In the event of a tragedy, he made the following remarks: "Fate has determined that men who went to the moon to explore in peace will remain on the moon in order to rest in peace."

But extraordinary national efforts have been paid.

Everything happened quickly, thanks to a blank check for a congressional mission. Between October 1968 and May 1969, four Apollo preparatory missions began. In December 1968, Armstrong was chosen to lead the eleventh.

A few months before the launch, Armstrong told Aldrin that he was pulling and would be the first to step into the surface of the moon.

"For a few more days I've been silent, I'm trying to make myself angry at Neil," Aldrin later recalled in his memories.

"After all, he was a commander and as such a boss."

A huge leap
When the monstrous rocket designed by von Braun on Wednesday, July 16, 1969, with Apollo 11 capped with the Apollo 11 capsule, millions of people gathered on the beach opposite Cape Canaveral.

But many doubted that they would land on the Moon in the first attempt. In 1999, Armstrong confided: "My feeling was that we had a 90% chance – or better to return safely and a 50% chance of a successful landing."

For those in America, the final downhill will be held on Sunday night.

In Europe, it was already night, but all were glued to their TVs, although they could only hear scratch radio communications until Armstrong set up his black and white cameras before his first step.

His grandmother advised him not to do this if he heard the danger; he agreed, according to the book "Rocket Men" by Craig Nelson.

When he descended to the bottom of the ladder, he noticed that Eagle's foot pedals had fallen to the ground only by an inch or two, and the surface seemed very fine grain. "It's almost like dust," he recalled.

Then through the radio: "Okay, now I'll come with LM." Pause, then the immortal words: "This is a small step for man, one big jump for humanity."

Armstrong says the line was not written. "I was thinking about it after landing," I would say in the oral history recorded by NASA in 2001.

One of the problems: without an unlimited article ("man") was not grammatically correct. Armstrong said he wanted to say it, but he agreed that it was inaudible.

How does the Moon look, close?

The color varies according to the angle of the Sun: from brown to gray to black as coal. It is referred to a lower level of gravity.

"I started jogging a little and I felt like I was slowly moving in a lazy cord, often with both legs floating in the air," Aldrin wrote in a book in 2009.

In two and a half hours, Armstrong took the pilots and bought the moon's stones and photographed. Aldrin installs a seismometer and two other scientific instruments.

They set up an American flag and leave behind many objects, including a medal honoring the first man in space, Russian Yuri Gagarin.

Of the 857 black and white photos and 550 in colors, only four show Armstrong. Most are Aldrin. "He's much more photogenic than I," he joked in 2001.

Mandatory home
When they started walking, the astronauts were covered with dust. In the cockpit, "I was like a wet ash in a fireplace," said Armstrong.

Collins has been waiting in orbit for the last 22 hours.

"My secret terror over the last six months left them on the moon and returned to Earth," he later wrote.

"If they do not rise from the surface, or they do not return to it, I will not commit suicide; I am coming home immediately, but I will be a marked man for life and I know it."

Luckily the engine of the lunar module worked, he returned with Colombia and the trio started a long way home.

By the end, the capsule weighs only 12,250 pounds, or 0,2 per cent of the launching full-loaded Saturn V rocket.

On July 24th, it enters the atmosphere and for some time becomes a fiery sphere in the sky before it begins with three rains and safely sinks into the Pacific.

The US sent an airline to recover them. Nixon was on board.

Elite divers dig up men who are unharmed after they travel, but uncomfortable to carry them by helicopter to the ship.

They are placed in quarantine for fear of being contaminated with extraterrestrial microorganisms.

At their first press conference, three weeks later, journalists asked three men, now global heroes, whether they would ever think about returning to the moon.

"We had very little meditation time in the Lunar Receiving Laboratory," Armstrong always answered.

None of them would return to space.

After another six missions, the Apollo program was interrupted in 1972.

Only when Donald Trump came to the office will the US decide to return to the Moon under the Artemis program, named after the Apollo twin sister.

(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated source.)

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