Apollo 11 landed on the moon 45 years ago. As we remember such an awesome event I would like to take a moment and comment on something that’s pretty interesting to me. The people that made the moon landing were yes… American. But they were men. Simple men, with hearts that beat, minds that wandered, and brows that sweat. Have you ever thought about that?
I work with dangerous stuff. Often when people hear what I do they say something about how cool or exciting it is. Well…. yes… and no. When you’re doing the thing that you’ve trained on forever and ever, you kind of get lost in the moment. You don’t think “Hey, I’m about to shoot this really awesome rocket”, you think about the minutia. You’ve programmed your mind to pay attention to the checklist. You’re lost in little words like “harness”, and “arming”. I can only imagine that’s what was going on with every single person involved in the moon landing.
Tyler ham has combined all the data from the actual moon landing and lined it up temporally on http://www.firstmenonthemoon.com/ so that it can be replayed in “real time”. This is an incredible piece of internet architecture that blends science, history, and technology. I want you to re-watch the moon landing on Tyler’s site and experience it in a new way. Think not only of a great achievement of mankind…. but think about the hearts beating… AND WATCH THE TELEMETRY of those actual heartbeats. Watch as Neil Armstrong’s heart rate speeds up as he nears the lunar surface. Think about Mike Collins in Lunar Orbit listening to the whole thing knowing that if something went wrong with his crew mates he would be returning home alone. Can you imagine? Feel the muted enthusiasm of the mission control room as the men approach the regolith. Listen to Gene Kranz as he controls a room full of men at the helm of the most sophisticated technology known to man at that point. Listen as Charlie Duke tries to clearly and concisely communicate with the fewest number of words possible, knowing that if he task saturates Armstrong and Aldrin he could jeopardize their hope of return.
For one moment, isolate yourself from the glory and aura of the successful moon landing and try to place yourself back on the other side of that point in time. The point BEFORE men had safely landed on the moon and returned. Be aware of your own pulse as you descend to the lunar surface. Pretend you’re in that state of flux, not knowing if you’ll die, or survive. Remember…. you still have a lunar rendezvous, deorbit burn, and reentry to all happen flawlessly.
For just one moment, cut off your phone, ignore all distractions, place yourself at July 20th, 1969 at 20:07 and spend 10 minutes heading towards the lunar surface yourself. I did, and my pulse began to rise. Then again… I hadn’t trained for hundreds of hours on this checklist.
Smarter Every Day
Watch, listen, and relive the excitement of the Apollo 11 lunar landing as experienced minute-by-minute by the courageous crew of Apollo 11 and Mission Control.