Apollo 11 turns 45: a lunar landing anniversary retrospective

Ars Technica:

On July 20 1969, at about four minutes before 10:00 pm Central Daylight Time, former naval aviator and test pilot Neil Armstrong became the first human being to stand on the surface of the Moon.

About 20 minutes later, he was followed by Buzz Aldrin, an Air Force colonel with a PhD in astronautics from MIT (Aldrin had, quite literally, written the book on orbital rendezvous techniques). Armstrong and Aldrin’s landing was the culmination of almost a decade of scientific and engineering work by hundreds of thousands of people across the United States. Even though the lunar program’s goals were ultimately political, the Apollo project ranks as one of the greatest engineering achievements in human history.

The story of the program is an incredible one and I’d encourage you to watch the amazing “From the Earth to the Moon” series if you haven’t seen it.



  • DanielSw

    I listened to the radio broadcast while driving crosscountry to start my four-year hitch in the USN three days later. I was 19. I was very impressed with the accomplishment, proud of the brave crew and the team, and thrilled that this happened in my lifetime.

  • Moeskido

    I was nine. The space program was a reason for me to have optimism about the crazy, chaotic world I’d been born into. It encouraged my interest in science and the future. A huge national effort of engineering and planning devoted to something other than someone else’s idiotic war. This was the reason America had been founded. This was what we were supposed to be about; solving enormous technical problems, striving to reach places we’d never seen, hoping to learn things about the universe. Nothing to do with killing millions of people over bullshit land grabs.

    I watch “From the Earth to the Moon” every two or three years, and the last episode’s end title leaves me crying uncontrollably for the end of my wonderful space program, and of my optimism.

  • dreyfus2

    A time when societies (the US and the USSR then, but it does not really matter) were competing on greatness, science and knowledge. A time when not every single investment was about paranoia, profit and screwing others.

    Today, stupid people wearing stupid looking glasses call themselves “Explorers”, cold war nonsense is on the rise again and the very idea of educating and enriching all people sounds like blasphemy when looked at in terms of profit and loss.

    Why are people only more tolerant and imaginative after a war, and is this evolution thing something that is really happening? Where is the president (no matter where) that can set a goal like Kennedy did? And why can we coexist on a tiny space station, but not on a planet that has enough for everybody?

    People did talk about these things in the 60s and 70s, since then we went backwards.