Apollo 11: This past week marked the 50th anniversary. Doctor Aviation will post a daily blog recounting each day of the voyage. July 18 marks Day 3, the third day after the launch.
Mission Control allows the astronauts an extra hour of sleep. After wakeup, the astronauts eat breakfast and assume the normal duties at just past 9:30am. The duties include recharging batteries, checking fuel and oxygen levels and the unpleasant task of dumping waste water.
At nearly 3:00 in the afternoon, the astronauts receive their daily news update. At 4:40pm, the real fun begins. The astronauts begin sending television transmissions back to the earth. The broadcast lasts for one hour and 36 minutes. The astronauts are 175,000 miles from the earth and 48,000 miles from the moon. The images are remarkably clear.
Lunar Module Showroom
During the television broadcast, Neil Armstrong descends into the Lunar Module (LM, pronounced LEM by the astronauts). Aldrin joins him. To enter the LM the astronauts descend through a 30-inch tube linking the LM to the Command Module. The LM will be the vehicle to take the astronauts to the moon’s surface.
Items They Carried
Long and hard thought was given as to what to carry as discretionary items on the voyage. Armstrong, an Eagle Scout, brought along the World Scout Badge. Serendipitously, the Boy Scouts were gathered in Idaho for their National Jamboree, which occurred every four years. Armstrong radioed a greeting to the group through Mission Control on July 18.
The crew brought a small gold olive branch, long a symbol of peace. There was a silicon disk inscribed with comments from 74 world leaders as well as a plaque commemorating the landing.
Most touching to me is the fact that Armstrong and Aldrin carried an Apollo 1 patch in memory of Gus Grissom, Ed Chafee and Roger White who were killed in a capsule fire during a test at Cape Canaveral on January 27, 1967. The Apollo 11 crew were careful to support and honor Apollo 1’s widows: Betty Grissom, Patricia White and Martha Chafee.
The astronauts bed down for the night at 10:00pm. As they sleep, the spacecraft begins to slow to 2,990 feet per second as it begins to encounter Moon’s sphere of influence.