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Ten Things You Didn't Know about the First Lunar Landing

By Kristin Masters. Jul 20, 2011. 1:47 AM.

Topics: Science, Book News

Today marks the anniversary of the first manned lunar landing. On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin left Michael Collins to man the Columbia and took the Eagle to the surface of the moon. Think you know all about the Moon and the lunar landing? Bet you hadn’t heard of these tidbits.

  • The computers used for the Apollo mission had less power than a contemporary cell phone.
  • Before heading to the Moon’s surface, Aldrin privately took Communion, a fact he didn’t share till years later. At the time, an atheist had petitioned that astronauts not be allowed to practice religion during missions.
  • The door of the Eagle had no outer handle. When Aldrin joined Armstrong on the Moon, he had to be careful to leave the door ajar.
  • Armstrong reported that walking on the Moon was “easier perhaps than the simulation….It’s absolutely no trouble to walk around.”
  • While Armstrong and Aldrin walked the Moon’s surface, the unmanned Soviet vessel Luna 15 prepared to touch down. That mission was the Soviet Union’s third attempt at retrieving lunar soil.
  • Mission Control was afraid that Armstrong would run out of fuel before landing on the Moon. If so, he would have crashed on the Moon’s surface.
  • Aldrin accidentally broke the circuit breaker to turn on the Eagle’s main engine, potentially stranding the astronauts on the Moon. He and Armstrong used a felt tip pen to flip the switch.
  • In addition to the iconic American flag, the astronauts left scientific instruments, a gold olive branch, a silicon memory disc, and a few other items.
  • Armstrong and Aldrin had trouble planting the flag in the Moon’s surface. The flag actually toppled over, thanks to the exhaust from the ascent stage engines.

Check out We Choose the Moon, an interactive reenactment of the mission. Some of us are lucky enough to remember the landing. Share your memories here in the comments!

Kristin Masters
Master Content Brain. You think it, she writes it, no good thought remains unposted. Sprinkles pixie dust on Google+, newsletters, blog, facebook, twitter and just about everything else.


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