NASA’S Moon landing occurred in the evening hours of July 20, 1969, at the height of the Cold War. The Moon landing saw astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin descend to the Moon’s surface. A third astronaut, Command Module Pilot Michael Collins, watched the mission unfold from a safe orbit over the Moon. Now, 50 years later and just 10 days from the anniversary, here are 11 incredible Moon landing facts.
Amazing facts about NASA’s Apollo 11:
1. Apollo 11 launched from Florida on July 16, 1969
The three astronauts launched from Florida’s Cape Canaveral aboard a powerful Saturn V rocket at 1.32pm UTC.
2. Michael Collins designed the Apollo 11 mission patch
Each Apollo crew had the honour of designing a unique mission patch worn by the astronauts.
In the case of Apollo 11, the mission patch featured an eagle carrying an olive branch to the Moon.
3. President Richard Nixon was prepared for a failed mission
In the unfortunate eventuality the Apollo astronauts died on the mission, President Richard Nixon had a speech drafted for public broadcast.
4. Neil Armstrong almost died before Apollo 11 launched
On May 6, 1968, Neil Armstrong suffered a near-fatal crash of a Lunar Landing Research Vehicle.
The veteran US Navy aviator ejected from the crashing vehicle before it exploded into a ball of flame.
5. Buzz Aldrin’s mother’s maiden name was Moon
The Lunar Module Pilot’s mum was named Marion Moon before marrying Edwin Eugene Aldrin Sr.
6. The Eagle Lunar Module barely landed on the Moon
As Armstrong and Aldrin descended to the Moon, the Lunar Module flew too fast and was thrown off course towards a boulder-strewn crater.
Commander Armstrong took over the spacecraft and manually directed it to a safe landing spot with less than 30 seconds of fuel left.
7. Michael Collins was briefly the loneliest man in the universe
As Armstrong and Aldrin explored the surface of the Moon, pilot Collins orbited the lunar orb, frequently passing into the dark side of the Moon.
He said: “I don’t mean to deny a feeling of solitude. It is there, reinforced by the fact that radio contact with the Earth abruptly cuts off at the instant I disappear behind the Moon, I am alone now, truly alone, and absolutely isolated from any known life.
“I am it. If a count were taken, the score would be three billion plus two over on the other side of the Moon, and one plus God knows what on this side.”
8. The astronauts could have picked up a deadly bug on the Moon
Upon return to Earth, the Apollo 11 crew had to spend 21 days in quarantine in case of pathogens living on the Moon.
9. Neil Armstrong secretly carried an incredible artefact to the Moon
The American astronaut concealed on him a piece of wood belonging to a propeller from the aircraft built by the Wright Brothers.
10. Armstrong and Aldrin only spent three hours on the Moon
The vast majority of time spent on the Moon was inside of the Lunar Module where the two astronauts made sure the spacecraft could safely fly them back to Michael Collins in the Columbia Command Module.
11. 650 million people watched Neil Armstrong’s “one small step”
Up to 650 million people around the globe watched Neil Armstrong say: “It’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind”.