The Blog of Ken.

from July 18, 2009

40 Years after Apollo 11: July 18

Originally written on July 18th, 2009…

Apollo 11 is coasting to the Moon. Of the huge 363 foot tall rocket that blasted off from Florida, only a small portion remains. As each stage of the rocket fires and uses up its fuel, it is jettisoned so they don’t have to carry the extra weight.

The command module (where the astronauts are,) service module (holding fuel, water and oxygen,) and the lunar module are the only parts of that huge original rocket that are heading to the Moon. Here, let me show you with a clip from “Apollo 13…”

(Future generations: If the video doesn’t play, that’s because it’s copy-written material and someone finally noticed…)

Except for the particular astronauts and the tension of whether or not Kevin Bacon could dock it (which was wholly created for dramatic purposes,) that’s pretty much how it went on Apollo 11.

Now that the lunar module is attached, the astronauts have gone in to check it out and make sure everything survived the shock and vibration of launch.

Here’s Buzz in the lunar module, taking out his sunglasses as the bright sun is shining through the windows.

The weight of the lunar module had always been an issue. Every pound of weight meant more fuel needed to land on the Moon. Since there’s no atmosphere on the Moon, you can’t glide in like a space shuttle or use parachutes. You have to fire the rocket to slow your descent, and KEEP firing it all the way down. Every pound was more weight the rocket would have to support.

My uncle worked at Grumman while they were building the lunar module. He said there was a company wide contest: if anyone could find a legitimate way to shave one pound off the lunar lander, they would get a $1,000 bonus (back then, enough to buy a car!)

Everything you see in this picture is somehow incredibly vital to landing on the Moon and keeping Neil and Buzz safe while doing it…

Safety is important, especially when home is getting so far away…

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