Apollo 11 took off on July 16, 1969. The journey was a few times around the Earth, a quarter of a million miles to the Moon, landing and then back.
Most of the mission had been done before, just not the landing on the Moon, exploration and take off from the surface bit. There was no guarantee that any part of it would not have a failure. It’s hard to understand just how brave those three astronauts in particular were.
If you have ever seen any real spacecraft close up, it’s pretty alarming. There is no assembly line for this. It’s hand-built. You can see the rivets, the bent bits of metal, the whole craft looks crude and a little home made. It isn’t, of course, but that’s the impression when you see one close up.
The Saturn V rocket is huge. I believe it is the most powerful machine ever built by man.
As we know from shuttle accidents, it only takes one small rubber ring to fail and there’s potential for disaster.
And we always assume that computers did everything. Well, they did have computer control for sure, but much less power than the average cell phone today.
So, during the flight they had problems. In fact, on the launchpad they had problems, but nothing they couldn’t deal with, and they landed on the Moon in prime time, July 21 1969.
In the UK it was the middle of the night. Even though it was the most historic achievement by man ever, the greatest adventure and true history, I was sent to bed and missed it.