Waxing and waning, waxing and waning...
July 20, 1969, the first person stepped foot onto the moon.
Many know facts of the mission such as the famous quotes ("the Eagle has landed" and "that’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind") and that the astronauts were Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins. But there are some facts that are at times overlooked.
In remembrance of this momentous occasion, here is a list of 5 facts that you might not have heard about this event.
Katherine Johnson wrote the calculations for the Apollo 11 trajectory to the moon. An African American woman, she worked to check and verify calculations for American space missions. In addition to the Apollo 11 mission, she wrote the trajectory for Alan Shepherd's mission in 1961, the first American flight in space, and checked the calculations for John Glenn's flight, enabling the first orbit of the earth done by an American. I highly recommend watching the movie "Hidden Figures" (2016) to see her accomplishments as well as other amazing African American women involved in the space race.
The module landed on the moon with 25 seconds to spare. Only 25 seconds. There was a landing area planned, but as Armstrong and Aldrin approached the site, they realized it was filled with boulders that would make the landing hazardous. Acting quickly, Armstrong steered the module to a safer landing spot, using up more of their remaining fuel. If the astronauts had taken 25 seconds longer, the module would've automatically aborted the landing, and Apollo 11 wouldn't have ever touched the moon.
Neil Armstrong brought a wooden piece and fabric from the Wright Brothers airplane. Only 66 years after the first recorded flight (done by the Wright Brothers), Armstrong brought a piece of that flight with him on the first manned flight to the moon. If you'd like to see these in person, you can find these in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C.
After landing back on earth on July 24, the Apollo 11 crew filled out a customs and immigration form. It included information such as listing their flight number as "Apollo 11," departure from "Moon," cargo including "moon rock and moon dust samples," and other condition on board that could lead to the spread of disease "to be determined."
The Apollo 11 crew were kept in a quarantine facility after returning from their mission. Nowadays, everyone has experienced quarantine, but coming back from the moon, no one knew what possible contamination the astronauts may have been exposed to. The crew remained in the unit for three weeks, able to speak to their families and President Nixon with help of communication equipment in the quarantine facility at Ellington Air Force Base (in Houston, Texas). Later it was determined that the moon didn't contain any form of life, so the quarantine process was discontinued after Apollo 14.
These facts are from a mission that occurred 51 years ago, but they still resonate today. Black women influencing incredible events, quick decisions that change history, carrying the past with you to show how far humanity has come, taking long journeys, and quarantine... need I say more on how that last one is relevant?
People continue to make great strides in space, constructing more rockets to make great journeys, creating space suits to fend off radiation, and discovering how pieces of the world work without gravity's influence. The Moon will continue to wax and wane, just as it did in 1969 and as it will continue to do as we head for Mars and beyond.
As a bonus in celebration of the Apollo 11 mission, some new SAMN designs have been released based around the moon and its phases. Take a look at the new products and have an excellent Moon Landing Day/Week!