Apollo 11: What do you remember, where were you?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

"Tranquility base here, 'Haystack' has landed."

That's how it would have sounded July 20, 1969, had NASA not abandoned its original names for the command service module ("Snowcone") and lunar module ("Haystack") in time for the Apollo 11 mission, which blasted off from the Kennedy Space Center on what was then known as Cape Kennedy, 40 years ago today.

And did you know Neil Armstrong has been misquoted all these years?

We all heard "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" after he first placed his feet on the lunar soil.

Profound, but certainly not as elegant as what he contends he actually said, or at least intended to say: "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind."

It turns out the "a" apparently was lost in storm static near one of the ground stations, and a recent computer analysis of the original transmission turned up evidence of the missing syllable.

Finally, did you know the final success of the mission depended on a pen?

It seems one of the astronauts, wrestling with their bulky space suits in the tiny lunar module, struck and broke off a key circuit breaker needed to fire the engine to lift them off the surface of the moon.

While they actually would have been able to fire the rocket manually by other means, Buzz Aldrin used a non-metallic pen to turn on the circuit breaker controlled by the broken switch.

What do you remember of the Apollo 11 mission? Where were you when you heard our astronauts had landed on the moon? What do you remember about the televised broadcast of Armstrong's "giant leap"?

Send an e-mail with a sentence or two to editor@mccookgazette.com, and we'll try to share your memories in this space on Monday.

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