Apollo 11

We all remember the so-called Apollo 1 fire and the sad deaths of three astronauts. It seemed that that would kick NASA backwards so far as to possibly fail in its mission, but, as we know, it didn’t.

Apollo 8 was the first manned mission to leave the Earth entirely, orbiting the Moon and forcing Christmas religion on the world. I saw the capsule recently, in Chicago. (Incidentally, Frank Borman has been quoted as saying that reading the first verses of the Bible to the world was NOT anything religious. I am still thinking about that).

It’s very small and claustrophobic. I know astronauts were short, but there’s only the space of the front of a big car.

The 11 crew were Armstrong, Collins and Aldrin. Two would land on the surface of the Moon, one would remain in orbit, to help with docking, doing experiments and so on.

Of course, for lots of the journey they had the Lunar Module for extra space.

This isn’t their LEM, which was lost in space somewhere, but it is similar. It’s the thing that actually landed on the Moon, and took off again. Parts of it are barely thicker than aluminium cooking foil.

You can find these exhibits in Chicago, at the Science and Industry Museum. I believe it’s the largest museum in the USA.

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