SPECIAL EPISODE: To The Moon And Back
It's Friday July nineteenth. Welcome to skim this. We're breaking down the most complex stories of the day and giving you the context on why they matter normally today. We've got something different for you to mark a very special occasion the twelve eleven jen nine. You've heard this out memoir mission control counting down rockets headed for space but never has the world watched a launch with as much nail biting nervous excitement as this looked on. We have a laptop thirty minutes at the hour on Apollo Eleven Apollo Eleven headed for the moon fifty years ago this week Apollo eleven was the event of the year of the decade in a defined era so today we're going to tell you that story and the backstory how a bunch of really small steps added up to that giant leap for mankind. It's part of our notes series on our APP. We're here to make your evening smarter. Let's skim this. It was July Twentieth Nineteen Sixty nine ten ten fifty six P._M.. Eastern time and around the world six hundred million people were watching the exact same thing on tv a man wearing a white suit a one hundred eighty pound white suit climbing down WanNa ladder very slowly and while the world held its breath he put his foot down on the moon perform all for man Neil Armstrong's giant leap for mankind is what most people remember from that night but it took a lot of baby steps to get to that leap and there were a lot more ahead ahead and even more that could still go wrong so how did putting a man on the moon become a must do. Let's set the stage after World War Two the A U._S.. In Soviet Union emerged as the two great global superpowers and they fought over a bunch of things influence over eastern Europe who had what nukes and who could get to outer space I in nineteen fifty seven the Soviets launched the I man made but unmanned satellite three years later they sent Leica and then Belka and stroke into orbit those were dogs then in nineteen sixty one the Soviets sent the first human up cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin so yeah at that point in the space race. The Soviets were ahead of the U._S.. By a mile a few weeks after gatherings historic journey President John F. Kennedy announced it was time the U._S.. Step up their game and he said his eyes on a pretty out their destination. I I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal before this decade is out of landing a man on the moon returning him safely to the earth no single space project in this period. We'll be more. Impressive to mankind or more important for the long range expiration of space and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish NASA took J._F._K.'s call and ran with it. They called it project Apollo. They knew it would take years to bring a man to the moon after Kennedy was assassinated in nineteen sixty three president Lyndon Johnson took up the 'cause then president Richard Nixon continued the project when he took office in Nineteen sixty-nine meanwhile NASA hired astronauts taught and engineers to turn Kennedy's dream into real life at the peak. Four hundred thousand people were working on the Apollo Program the U._S. program hit its first big rough patch in nineteen sixty seven during a rehearsal for the first man Apollo one flight Apollo one wasn't meant to go to the moon. It was the first in a series of missions designed to test the equipment but during the rehearsal a fire swept through the command module on the launchpad all three astronauts on board died the NASA engineers and scientists learned from that and completely redesigned the ship for the next couple of years after that tragedy NASA launched a bunch more tests manned and an unmanned missions to Earth's orbit and then the Moon's orbit Apollo's four through ten so they were getting closer and closer but they didn't just need to build spacecraft they had to invent all all kinds of things that would allow the astronauts actually live and work in space. They had to make a computer small enough to fit in the ships command module make sure astronauts had enough to eat and figure out how to purify water they had to make a suit that could protect astronauts from cold and from the heat and don't forget they had to be able to walk and use machines on the moon. A lot of technology developed for the Apollo missions is still around today. You might even have it in your house stuff like freeze dried food cordless power tools us that mylar emergency blanket in your car the microchips that are in everything were developed out of the integrated circuit created for the mission so after all that tech and all the trials it was finally time for Apollo eleven the one that would finally okay put a man on the moon nearly two hundred forty thousand miles away three astronauts were selected for the Apollo Eleven Mission Command Module Pilot Mike Collins Lunar Module Pilot Edwin Aldrin Aka Buzz Aldrin and and Commander Neil Armstrong who was making his second spaceflight the journey to the moon and back on Apollo eleven would take eight days but it wasn't a straight shot. The trip involved a lot of stopping in going with a bunch of anxious NASA engineers watching from mission control role think of the Apollo eleven a big heavy tower of building blocks part huge rocket heart propulsion system and engine part cramped vacation apartment throughout the journey. Each of those parts would get used and then break off when its purpose was complete basically most of the Apollo eleven would become a lot of space junk. All that was supposed to come back to Earth was the tiny command module at the top Aka the cramped apartment. So they had the crew and they had the spaceship July Sixteenth Nineteen sixty-nine was liftoff three to one zero. We have thirty two minutes past the hour the and away Apollo eleven went still in Earth's atmosphere the engines fired in the first two stages until they ran out of fuel separated and then fell into the ocean the astronauts and Apollo Eleven Collins Ends Aldrin and Armstrong circled the earth once then set off out of Earth's atmosphere toward the moon. What followed was a three day journey to the Moon Apollo eleven was being pulled by the Moon's gravitational force into its orbit then after three days ace buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong got into the Lunar Module Aka the Eagle Mike Collins held down the fort inside the command module? The Eagle was opposed to land on autopilot at a specific civic destination on the moon picked out ahead of time but as alternate Armstrong got closer to the moon they noticed the computer had miscalculated and overshot its intended destination by four miles. Now Armstrong was in unfamiliar territory literally and running dangerously low on fuel. The moon is in a flat surface Armstrong realized he'd have to eyeball landing to avoid huge craters that were below him so he grabbed the controls and overrode food autopilot one hundred twenty one down thirty three degrees honesty data nineteen five hundred forty feet down thirty at a fifteen the debate here. The Eagle has landed yeah. The Eagle has landed. If you've heard that phrase before that's where it comes from Baraga point crank wealthy we copy on the ground. You got a bunch of guys about the blue we're breathing again. Thanks a lot about six and a half hours. After landing Armstrong emerged and the entire world watched it happen live then hands still on the ladder Armstrong immediately went into data collection mode daughter with Oh dear and find layers like <hes> barter Turco bull and Leiper about fifteen minutes slater buzz Aldrin followed Armstrong out of the lunar module and they went to Work Aldrin setup some science experiments and Armstrong began exploring moon's surface and collecting moon rocks they bounced around in their moods. They mounted an American flag tag on the Moon's surface and took a call from the president of the United States Richard Nixon Neyland Buzz. I'm talking to you by telephone from the over room at the White House and this has to be most aric telephone calls. Take Color Base. I just can't tell you how proud we all are what you for. Every American is has to be the proudest day of our lives and for people all over the world. I am sure they you to join the sizing. What the world didn't know was that the president new at that moment there was a very real possibility that Neilan buzz might never make it back home to leave the moon they had to get the lunar module off the Moon's surface and backup to orbiting command module and get back inside something they haven't been able to practice back home? Here's how real the possibility was Nixon had already prepared kind of oput just in case Armstrong and Aldrin got stranded on the moon in it he wrote quote fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace. We'll stay on the moon to rest in peace and in fact there actually was an issue when the two got back to the Eagle one of the circuit breakers on the ascent engine was broken buzz Aldrin ended up fixing it with a pen super high tech so Nixon speech stayed in the drawer Aldrin and Armstrong rejoined collins in the command module and propelled out of the Moon's orbit then they dropped the Eagle and rocketed back to Earth at twenty five thousand miles per hour on July twenty four eight days after liftoff the Apollo eleven released it's huge parachutes and drop down in the middle of the Pacific Ocean nine hundred and fifty miles southwest of Hawaii. When the astronauts reached Hawaii they actually had to go through customs to declare what they had brought home with them on the list? They wrote Moon Rock and moon-dust samples. That's actually part of what made Apollo hollow eleven so important it wasn't just about beating the Soviets those astronauts and those who went to the moon after them brought back the first samples from a place other than earth some of which are only just being studied today. Scientists kept some samples vacuum packed act to wait for technology to improve so they could study new things over time the Apollo eleven mission was to get a man to the moon and back so we can learn more about our solar system our history and what life is really like out there getting to the moon with step one of that process. Ask so what's the Skim the Apollo eleven moon landing took hundreds of thousands of people billions of dollars endless tests and a lot of guts tragedy struck along the way but in July nineteen sixty-nine Neil Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to ever set foot on the moon. There were a lot of things that could have gone very wrong but they didn't it was a spectacular success. The lunar enthusiasm that launched those big dreams started to Wayne Pretty quickly and no Winston back to the moon since the early seventies but now there may be a comeback NASA says it hopes to go to the moon again by the year twenty twenty four and that's all for Skim.