The Apollo 11 Mission Was Not All It Was Cracked Up To Be

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This PowerPoint presentation includes ten slides of information about the Apollo 11 moon landing. This resource can be used for whole-class, small group, or independent activities.

After returning to the LM, Armstrong and Aldrin engaged its propulsion system to shift from their near circular orbit into an elliptical one before initiating their powered descent initiation maneuver.

Apollo 11 was the first human mission to the Moon

John F Kennedy announced in the 1960s that the United States would attempt to land humans on the Moon, and NASA dedicated considerable funds and effort towards making it happen – this became known as Apollo programme. Other nations have sent space probes toward Moon, but only Americans managed to bring back an astronaut from its surface and return.

At this pivotal point in human space travel history, millions of people around the globe eagerly anticipated this momentous occasion. Apollo 11 launched on 16 July 1969 and for three days afterwards people kept track of its astronauts through news bulletins and TV transmissions from translunar space.

On 20 July, Columbia and Eagle successfully separated as planned, and Armstrong and Aldrin entered a lunar module they named Eagle (which they gave the patriotic name Eagle), while commander Collins remained aboard Columbia. Armstrong and Aldrin began exploring the lunar surface for two hours using photographs and scientific experiments such as seismographs to detect moonquakes as well as laser range retroreflectors to accurately determine distances between Earth and Moon.

Finally, Armstrong opened the hatch and made his historic steps onto the lunar surface, being recorded by a television camera onboard his LM. These images delighted and encouraged audiences around the world.

Armstrong and Aldrin spent almost two hours collecting rock samples and deploying scientific equipment before planting a flag to mark which country had made history with the first Moon landing. Finally, they left behind a plaque reading “We came in peace for all mankind”. Upon returning to Earth orbit they fired their engine once more for lunar orbit entry.

This was the final time an Apollo mission flew a “free-return” trajectory, which allowed for them to abort before entering lunar orbit. Although risky, NASA simulations had predicted its success – much to people watching at home! It was an unforgettable moment.

It was part of the Space Race

The Space Race was an ongoing competition between the United States and Soviet Union to see which nation could reach the Moon first, part of a wider global conflict pitting capitalism and communism against each other. From late 1950s through to mid 1970s both superpowers engaged in this contest for technological supremacy by sending satellites into orbit or landing humans on the Moon first.

NASA invested an enormous amount of money and effort in their Apollo program to land astronauts on the Moon, employing nearly 400,000 people for this massive undertaking. Soviet space agency RAS attempted to land astronauts on the Moon as well, though with several failed attempts before eventually succeeding with their lunar landing program in 1972.

President John F Kennedy made a landmark speech in May 1961 when he pledged that America would send men to the Moon and safely bring them back home before the end of this decade. Space program development was a top priority of American government; success in winning the Space Race would ensure America remained the sole superpower.

Armstrong and Aldrin launched in the Eagle lunar module on 16 July 1969 into orbit around the Moon, using their lunar engine to lower it and approach. Once close enough, Armstrong and Aldrin fired their lunar engine again for powered descent and selected an area called Sea of Tranquillity as safe landing site. Once closer still, powered descent began with their lunar engine.

After several hours on the Moon, Armstrong and Aldrin dismounted from their lunar module and returned to Columbia. On 22 July they fired the engines of their service module’s engines to leave lunar orbit and return home; their crew splashed down in the Pacific Ocean at 17:54 UTC on 24 July where they were picked up by USS Hornet for recovery.

Neil Armstrong took one small step onto the lunar surface on 21 July and announced, in now-famous words: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”. Unfortunately, these famous words were cut from live TV broadcast but included in transcripts of their mission.

It was a success

The Apollo 11 moon landing remains remarkable today not only as an engineering triumph but also as an impressive show of political will by democratic society. Space scholar John Logsdon has dedicated much of his career to studying why such an ambitious endeavor succeeded – one key reason being President Kennedy’s goal of landing man on moon before this decade was over, forcing all participants involved in its achievement to make quick decisions and move quickly forward with its pursuit.

Another key element was careful planning of the mission by NASA engineers. Breaking down their complex task into smaller steps and setting milestones to measure progress helped keep the project on track when there were setbacks; engineers evaluated each potential issue and devised plans to avoid or overcome them; finally, making sure all team members had enough training for a safe mission completion was also important.

Once launched, Apollo took two hours and 44 minutes to reach translunar orbit. Once there, its S-IVB stage reignited for a short burn that put Apollo into lunar orbit; shortly thereafter Columbia separated from SLA with Lunar Module Attacher which contained it before docking with it later on.

On their journey back from the Moon, astronauts performed the inaugural color TV transmission back home. An 11.2 second burn of their SPS performed its only midcourse correction programed for this mission.

At one point during the final descent to the lunar surface, the Lunar Module computer became overloaded with commands and data, threatening to reboot in the middle of landing sequence. Armstrong and Aldrin were able to save the landing by taking control of LM manually with manual controls provided by Mission Control while still receiving altitude and velocity information from Mission Control.

Once on the Moon, the crew collected samples of moon rocks and deployed instruments to gather meteorological data. Additionally, they left behind a commemorative coin and silicon disk containing messages from 73 countries.

It was a disaster

Apollo 11 may have been an incredible achievement, but the mission almost failed due to an oversight in a controller that helped jettison command modules from spacecraft – according to former NASA engineer Scott Atkinson’s book on it, astronauts were far more at risk than previously believed. According to Atkinson’s account, this problem emerged less than an hour before they touched down on the Moon due to faulty sequences in an electrical controller used for jettisoning these modules; unfortunately due to time restrictions NASA knew about this but decided against fixing due to cost considerations, according to Atkinson.

Storms were another significant threat to the crew’s mission and landing capsule. NASA engineers understood this possibility after studying radar and satellite data, nearly costing their lives but allowing for safe landing with just 30 seconds remaining in fuel supply.

As the Apollo 11 astronauts prepared for their maiden moonwalk, Armstrong accidentally started a fire in their life-support system. Wearing his iconic backpack when this occurred caused its tip to come loose from its circuit breaker – this control provided power running to an engine which would blast them back to their ship and could have potentially caused an explosion, killing all three astronauts inside a pure oxygen environment.

Armstrong noticed his lunar module was heading toward a field of boulders and West Crater, so he took semi-manual control to steer it away from this danger zone and land with just 25 seconds left in its fuel reserve.

The new video uses real footage of Apollo 11, but is edited deceptively to create the false impression that its mission was a failure. Not for laughs but to demonstrate the rising danger of fake news and how deepfake technology may be used to manipulate public opinion.

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