“Tranquility Base here, the Eagle has landed!” With these words spoken fifty years ago tomorrow, astronaut Neil Armstrong announced to our world that he and Buzz Aldrin had become the first humans to land on another world.
Historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. identified the moon landing as the most significant event of the twentieth century. More than 530 million people watched the broadcast of the moon landing on television. It is estimated that 93 percent of all the televisions in the US were tuned into the event.
But few of those watching had any idea how dangerous the mission truly was.
A FLYING PRODIGY AND COURAGEOUS PILOT
Yesterday we focused on Michael Collins, the astronaut who stayed aboard the command module while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon. Monday, we’ll consider Buzz Aldrin’s story and the legacy of his faith.
Today, in preparation for tomorrow’s anniversary, let’s focus on Neil Armstrong, the astronaut who commanded the mission and was the first person to walk on the moon.
Like the other two Apollo 11 astronauts, Armstrong was born in 1930. A flying prodigy, he earned his student flight certificate before he had a driver’s license.
He began studying aeronautical engineering at Purdue University at the age of seventeen and joined the Navy two years later. He flew seventy-eight combat missions during the Korean War, service for which he was highly decorated. He then returned to Purdue to complete his degree.
Armstrong did not know how important his courage would be to the success of the mission we are celebrating today.
HOW NEIL ARMSTRONG SAVED THE MOON LANDING
So much could have gone wrong with Apollo 11.
The spaceship’s heat shield was applied by hand with a sophisticated caulking gun; the parachutes were sewn by hand and then folded by hand. (The only three people licensed to fold and pack the Apollo parachutes were considered so indispensable that they were not allowed for precautionary reasons to ever ride in the same car.)
The technology that enabled Apollo 11 to travel to the moon and back was remarkably effective and sophisticated for its day, but its computational capacity pales in comparison with the smartphone in your pocket.
Then there was the flight itself.
As Eagle neared its landing site on the moon, Armstrong realized that the onboard computer would land the module in a boulder-strewn area, so he took control of the vehicle. He found a clear patch of ground and maneuvered the spacecraft towards it. However, as he approached the area, he saw that it had a crater in it.
Armstrong found another patch of level ground. By this time, Eagle had only ninety seconds of propellant remaining. Lunar dust kicked up by the module’s engine impaired his ability to determine the spacecraft’s motion, so he navigated by large rocks jutting out of the dust cloud.
Finally, at 3:17 p.m. EST, Eagle landed on the moon.
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Source: Christian Headlines