Armstrong and Aldrin unlocked the hatch and exited the LM. They took photos, planted a flag, performed some scientific tests and also called Houston and President Nixon from orbit.
Armstrong famously declared “One small step for man, one giant leap for humanity” while taking his initial steps on the moon – but was it said correctly?
What happened on the moon?
Neil Armstrong made history on July 20, 1969 when he took that legendary first step on the Moon in front of an estimated audience of 650 million viewers, fulfilling President John F. Kennedy’s challenge eight years earlier of sending humans safely back home from space exploration missions.
Once they were settled in their lunar module, the astronauts embarked on a two-hour extravehicular activity (EVA), or moonwalk. Their primary task was deploying passive seismograph and laser ranging retroreflector instruments on the lunar surface as well as collecting 46 pounds of lunar rocks dating back 3.7 billion years!
Armstrong and Aldrin were keenly aware of avoiding contamination of their spacesuits from lunar dust during their trek across the lunar surface. After making sure all equipment was functioning as it should have, Armstrong and Aldrin asked NASA/MCC for permission to skip a planned rest period; MCC agreed.
Armstrong informed Aldrin of his intention to leave behind commemorative items on the surface for future astronauts to enjoy, such as a silicon disk inscribed with goodwill greetings from 73 world leaders; an Apollo 1 patch to remember Virgil Grissom, Edward H. White and Roger B. Chaffee who had died in 1967 due to fire; as well as Soviet medals honoring late astronauts Vladimir Komarov and Yuri Gagarin who both died due to tragic accidents while exploring space.
Once Armstrong and Aldrin returned to the Eagle, Armstrong called Mission Control Center to request permission for an early EVA. MCC granted this request and asked that Armstrong and Aldrin notify their families immediately, which they did.
Many have speculated on whether Armstrong actually said, “One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” Unfortunately, audio recording from that event didn’t pick up that particular phrase; however computer programmers have conducted analysis of sound waves to discover a 35 millisecond bump that might indicate Armstrong said “a man.” Regardless of this information being present or absent in recorded audio files at that event.
How did the astronauts get to the moon?
The Saturn V rocket featured three modules, with astronauts using three separate modules as home and control centres: command module, unmanned service module and lunar module. While command module housed astronauts’ living quarters and control centres, unmanned service module carried supplies, power systems and an engine while lunar module was designed to land on the Moon. Launched from Cape Kennedy in Florida reaching an altitude of 68 kilometers before astronauts entered command module; its blunt body shape made for easy maneuverability through space as well as handling searing frictional heat upon reentry into Earth’s atmosphere re-entry.
Before going outside for their EVA mission, the astronauts prepared by depressurizing their cabin and donning portable life support system (PLSS) backpacks containing oxygen and carbon dioxide filters as well as spacesuits accompanied by Collins in their CSM (Command Service Module).
At 102 hours and 45 minutes into their mission, astronauts fired the Lunar Module’s descent engine to change from their nearly circular orbit into an elliptical one with a low point nearer the moon. Shortly afterwards they fired its engines again – this time to initiate powered descent.
Armstrong and Aldrin emerged from Eagle’s hatch at 00:39:35 UTC on July 20, kicking off a two-and-a-half hour moonwalk that saw them deploy science experiments, photograph their surroundings, display an American flag, read an inscription plaque and collect rock and soil samples for return to Earth. Cameras both inside and outside LM recorded images of their progress while the astronauts verbally reported back their surroundings and progress for geologists.
Once their task was complete, the astronauts jettisoned their PLSS and returned to Eagle. Once back with CSM, a three-second burn of SPS was initiated to perform one of four midcourse corrections programmed into this mission.
What were the astronauts doing on the moon?
On July 20, 1969, when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin emerged from the lunar module Eagle to land on the moon for their historic mission, an estimated 650 million viewers tuned in. Armstrong famously said at that momentous occasion: “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”. Those words remain an inspirational part of our shared history today as they drive us toward greater achievement.
The mission lasted approximately 21 hours and 30 minutes from launch until they returned to Columbia, their vessel for transportation back to Earth. When they landed, they went through customs checks similar to any passenger traveling through an airport to ensure no germs or bacteria from the Moon made their way back home with them.
Before departing the LM, astronauts had to reconfigure their Portable Life Support Systems (PLSSs), backpacks which supplied oxygen, removed carbon dioxide and enabled communications. They also had to ensure their visors were clean in order to reduce sun glare as well as that all cameras inside their helmets were operating efficiently.
Once landed, Armstrong and Aldrin used their forward LM windows to take panoramic photos of the lunar surface from their forward windows, deployed two experiments — EASEP (Early Apollo Scientific Experiment Package) and PSEK (Passive Seismic Experiment Package – designed to measure Moon quakes), collected samples for return home, as well as live footage transmitted using their television camera back home.
Armstrong and Aldrin returned to their LM in stages. Armstrong took their PLSS containers from outside the module, unloaded their contents into the SEQ bay before helping Aldrin close up his rock boxes before climbing back up onto their ladder into their module.
After returning to the LM, astronauts took their first look at the back of the lander and its gold-and-black lower section known as the descent stage. Additionally, they planted an American flag so the world knew who had reached the Moon first.
What was the first thing they did on the moon?
The astronauts had to face hundreds of challenges just getting to the Moon; once there, they needed to quickly figure out what to do once there. They had four hours to explore its surface, collect samples from it and return safely back to Columbia’s LM docked nearby.
The crew had to carefully time their extravehicular activity (EVA) with lunar sunrise and sunset to minimize interference with its environment and avoid disturbing any landmarks such as craters.
Armstrong and Aldrin quickly returned to the Eagle after exploring, surveying their surroundings for potential dangers. Briefed on the very remote chance that lunar dust might ignite unexpectedly, Armstrong and Aldrin prepared themselves in case this should occur; knowing they needed to leave quickly in case it did happen. They worked quickly so as not to miss any crucial moments during landing or when trying to evacuate from it later on.
They stepped through an opening in Eagle’s lunar module cabin and donned helmets, visors and gloves before waiting a few minutes as the spacecraft depressurized; once this process had completed, another valve was opened to release any remaining pressure in the cabin. Finally, they removed their television camera from Eagle LM and carried it 30 feet from lander before setting it up on a tripod.
Armstrong and Aldrin took samples from the lunar surface and stored them in bags that fit comfortably inside their suits’ pockets. In addition, they set up devices to measure solar wind composition reaching the Moon; laser beam receivers that would receive laser beams fired by Earth-based observatories to determine distance; passive seismometers capable of detecting moonquakes or meteor impacts even after Armstrong and Aldrin had returned home; as well as passive seismometers capable of monitoring moonquakes or meteor impacts after they had left; as well as passive seismometers capable of monitoring moonquakes or meteor impacts long after Armstrong and Aldrin had left;
Armstrong and Aldrin used their lunar module’s ascent stage to return it into lunar orbit, jettisoning its ascent stage later in their mission so it would come crashing back down upon itself and impact with the Moon.