Apollo 11: This past week marked the 50th anniversary. Doctor Aviation will post a daily blog recounting each day of the voyage. July 17 marks Day 2, the day of the launch.
NASA’s control center in Houston Texas is named the Johnson Space Center. It is named for former President Lyndon Johnson who was a huge proponent of space exploration. Not coincidently, Johnson was in a position to direct funding to NASA as the president from 1963 to 1968. Houston is referred to as Mission Control. The folks at Cape Canaveral in Florida are known as Launch Control. Once the spaceship enters space, control transfers from Florida to Houston.
Much like the president, the astronauts are briefed on the news of the day. Apparently, this included a sports report. The biggest news of interest was the Russian space ship Luna 15. American intelligence suspected that the Russians were still trying to beat the Americans to the moon. Luna 15 was launched three days before Apollo 11. It was unmanned and designed to bring lunar rock samples back to the earth. Look for more information in a future blog.
At 12:17pm the astronauts test the engine that will get them into and out of lunar orbit. The test is accomplished with a three second burn of the engine which also sharpened the trajectory of the spaceship.
Broadcast and Good Night
In the evening the astronauts host an evening color television cast from space. It begins around 7:30pm and lasts for over 30 minutes. Views from inside the Columbia Command Module can be seen. At 9:42pm the crew beds down for the night.