Apollo 11 Moon landing 20.17 GMT 20 July 1969

I hope that this blog reaches you at the same time that Apollo 11 landed on the Moon exactly 50 years ago. I was a youngster at the time and to this day I can recall an early family breakfast to see that famous “first step”.

We watched the BBC Moon Shot and it was quite a surprise to see James Burke- one of the commentators on that very evening re appearing on a BBC video.

Interestingly he comments that in Britain at that time many households did not have a car and houses with indoor toilets were still in the minority. They shared the anxiety of the actual touch down on the moon with a low fuel warning.

The BBC commentators also made a wise choice to stay on air for 5 hours awaiting the moon walk. Imagine the long term issue if the walk had happened whilst they were off air!.

The BBC did not keep that video as the tape was too expensive. James Burke comments that NASA held the originals and much of what they said was of short term value.

This assessment shows just how transitory is our contribution no matter how apparently important. Perhaps those who are concerned about their soundbites of today would do well to think about that

Reading around the topic I have noticed two other things- There are those whose the life story is known eg Vener Von Braun The biography shows his career from developing the V2 ballistic missiles to becoming the director of NASA Marshall space flight centre and the Saturn 5 rocket.

And then there are those who had important roles yet have not become household names. Tecwyn Roberts is apparently one of those. He apparently came from a remote part of the UK. The piece on the BBC however reports that he was in charge of all the communications, data and television involved in the mission and without his input the mission would not have been possible.

The BBC also shows how contributions from around the globe were critical. They feature a remote satellite receiving station in Australia meant that the relevant TV pictures were seen by 600 million people.

Perhaps most telling are the interviews with Mark Armstrong which highlighted that ultimately Neil Armstrong was their father.

The piece by Palab Ghosh, BBC Science Correspondent shows that ultimately Neil Armstrong was very down to earth despite being the first man and also one of the few to land on another planet.

To conclude, perhaps the most important points about Apollo 11 are that in less than 10 years, with a large team effort, with people coming from various starting points, man achieved a landing on the moon.

It does indicate that if, as a species we can forget our differences and work together then we can handle many challenges.

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