Apollo 11, Blast off, 13.32 GMT, 16 July 1969 .

50 years ago to this very time 16 July 1969 at 2.32 GMT ie 3.32 pm . Apollo 11 blasted off from Cape Canaveral for the first Moon landing. I have just come from seeking the film Apollo 11 and the achievements were out of this world. I vividly remember staying up to watch the event in real time and seeing them open the hatch and Neil Armstrong take that famous first step. Please see the post script as this event affected all mankind

It was suitably symbolic that on the way home, there was the moon, clear for all to see in a cloudless sky.

I well remember growing up at that time and watching the various stages of the mission to the moon. Kennedy’s words on 12 September 1962 were very inspiring

We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too”.

The stages of the Apollo programme to develop the procedures were also quite remarkable- docking the lunar and command modules in space, going around the dark side of the moon.

If you have not seen it, then I would also recommend seeing First Man. This concentrates on the life of Neil Armstrong and the challenges he personally faced and is also very inspiring.

The film about Apollo 11 graphically shows the huge team effort that was involved in getting the Saturn 5 rocket to lift off, and all the intermediate stages. The film shows all those critical steps with engine burns to leave earth orbit, go into moon orbit and then to descend to the moon surface. Although handled in a controlled manner it is clear in the film that any small miscalculation could have been disastrous

The peak of the mission was on 20 July 1969 whilst they were attempting to land on the moon surface. As they were doing so they had two warnings from the on board computers. There are the famous 1202 and later the 1201 warning lights. Apparently there were messages that the computer capacity to handle navigation data was being overloaded. History shows that these warnings were ignored by Neil Armstrong. However they also then ran low on fuel whilst trying to avoid some boulders on their planned landing site. On the internet it is quoted that they had only 20 seconds or so of fuel left.

Then we heard the famous staying ” A small step for man, a giant leap for mankind”

There is a comprehensive review of the challenges at the following website

The rest of the film was just as nail biting. There were the questions of a successful launch from the moon surface, docking with the command module, blasting off from moon orbit and heading back to earth. Finally there was the matter of re-entry into earths atmosphere and the massive heat this generates. Re-entry also creates a radio blackout and the film captures this tense moment as one is left hearing repeated calls between mission control and the space module but no reply. As we all now know communication were restored and a successfully splash down. However even that had to be re-sited due to imminent storms.

The name of my website is and this film shows clearly that others have done much that should inspire us all. I hope that you enjoy the two films

Useful links

If you are inspired then there were two articles this weekend about space camps in both the Times and Telegraph newspapers.

PS In my enthusiasm to write about the moon shot I forgot to mention the inspiring story about the broom sweeper at the Kennedy Space Centre. He was sweeping the floor and was asked by a journalist what was his role. Quick as a flash, he replied it was to do his part in putting a man on the moon. So no matter what role you have and how mundane remember, that (spaceship) earth needs all of us to do our roles on the journey. In this time of concerns about the climate perhaps also to review what we do.

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