Moonwalks - The Men Who Walked on the Moon (Part 1)
Moonwalks And NASA's Apollo Space Program
Eight years after Russian Yuri Gagarin exited the atmosphere in a space capsule and circled the earth, the United States made history by landing men on the moon. The historic day was July 21, 1969 and Apollo 11 touched down on the lunar surface and Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon. Before the Apollo space program ended there would be 38 astronauts participating and of those 38 only twelve would actually put their feet on the moon.
This hub is part 1 of their story.
The moonwalks were the end result of a space program initiated by US President John F. Kennedy on May 25, 1961. President Kennedy directed the country’s space agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), to land on the moon before the end of the decade. Thus the Apollo program was born.
The Apollo program was actually a series of space flights that included both unmanned and then manned flights. There were only 11 crewed missions though of which 6 landed on the moon and successfully returned to earth. Each mission brought the program nearer to meeting its goals.
Moon Landings Created Iconic Space Exploration Pictures
Tragic Beginnings to NASA's Glorious Space Exploration Program
Ironically the program officially began with a pre-test of Apollo 1 on January 27, 1967 which became a true tragedy. The spacecraft was sitting on the test pad and inside were astronauts Virgil I. Grissom, Edward White, and Roger Chafee. A fire swept through the Apollo 1 killing all three men. These were the only 3 deaths that occurred during the existence of the program.
Due to the need to redesign and test the spacecraft after the Apollo 1 disaster, there was never an Apollo 2 or 3. Apollos 4, 5, and 6 entered space but were unmanned. Apollo 5 was the first test flight of the Lunar Module. The first Apollo spacecraft to orbit the earth as a manned flight was Apollo 7 on October 4, 1968. Subsequent Apollo flights successively progressed through lunar orbits, lunar swing-bys, and then a series of lunar landings.
Apollo 8 was the first spacecraft to orbit the moon on December 24, 1968 putting men closer to reaching the goal of a walk on the moon - the magical moonwalks. Apollo 9 orbited the earth and Apollo 10 orbited the moon. Then on July 16, 1969 Apollo 11 left the pad and entered history in a way that no other spacecraft would be able to do through time.
The Apollo 11 Crew Who Made The First Moon Landings
Touchdown! The First Moon Landing
Apollo 11 was the first spacecraft to land on the moon. The crew consisted of Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, and Michael Collins. Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon. Buzz Aldrin also got the honor of moonwalking while Michael Collins remained in the Command Module.
Apollos 12 , 14, 15, 16 and 17 all experienced lunar landings. Apollo 13 had to be cancelled due to a loss of oxygen after equipment malfunctioned. Apollo 17 was the last Apollo mission funded with the remaining plans for the last three flights scrapped due to budget cuts. The Apollo program ended upon the return of Apollo 17 on December 19, 1972.
There were 38 astronauts who flew in Apollo spacecraft. This includes the original Apollo spacecraft and subsequent flights of the Skylabs and the Apollo-Soyuz. Twenty-nine (29) men flew in Apollo spacecraft and the rest in the Skylabs and Apollo-Soyuz. Of the 29 Apollo astronauts, there were 24 who actually visited the moon. And of the 24 astronauts visiting the moon, only 12 different men actually got the chance to walk the surface of the moon and create the historic moonwalks.
Apollo 11 - Just About to Witness the First Moonwalk
The Apollo Space Program Recommended Reading
The First Words At The moon - "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”
After the Lunar Module landed on the moon, Neil Armstrong reported to mission control with the above words.
Many people believe that landing on the moon remains the greatest technological victory mankind has experienced. The first words spoken by Neil Armstrong as he stepped onto the moon were,
“That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.”
(The debate rages on as to whether he actually used the “a” in the sentence. He says he did but many people listening to the recording say he did not.)
In a few words he managed to sum up the stunning results of ten years of effort. People were able to watch the moonwalk on television in black and white and it fired people’s imagination as space suddenly seemed accessible and full of opportunities, wonders, and mysteries.
The moon walking astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin planted an American flag in the moon’s soil and a plaque that reads with the inscription below:
The Plaque left on the moon by Apollo 11
HERE MEN FROM THE PLANET EARTH
FIRST SET FOOT UPON THE MOON
JULY 1969 A.D.
WE CAME IN PEACE FOR ALL MANKIND
The Moon Plaque
Who Did The Moonwalks?
So what about the twelve men who walked on the face of the moon? Who were these brave souls willing to risk their lives to test the possibilities of the space program?
Apollo 13 Astronauts Practise for the Moonwalk at Kennedy Space Center
David Scott Salutes the American Flag During His Moonwalk
Fascinating and Inspiring Astronauts
All of the astronauts participating in the Apollo program deserve praise and recognition. But the twelve men who actually stepped foot on the moon are very special people who earned the honor through dedicated effort. They were men who had vision and courage and believed the space program would benefit all human kind.
The twelve moon walking Apollo astronauts are an elite group of men and membership is closed. Even if astronauts return to the moon, it will be with greatly improved technology and a better understanding of space than was possible during the Apollo program.
On July 20, 2009 the Apollo program celebrated its 40th anniversary. The world will remember that day the family huddled in front of the television and watched a fellow human being walk on the moon. We have not forgotten your courage and never will.
To read the story of the moonwalks and the men who did them - continue reading part 2 of this hub. You'll also find moonwalk videos of all the moonwalks by the daring Dozen -
- Neil Armstrong
- Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin
- Charles "Pete" Conrad
- Alan Bean
- Alan Shepard
- Edgar Mitchell
- David Scott
- James Irwin
- John Young
- Charles Duke
- Eugene Cernan
- Harrison Schmitt
Read their stories and view their moonwalk videos in Part 2 - Moonwalks, Moonwalkers and Moonwalk Videos
Apollo 17's Moonwalks were the Last...
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