ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Education and Science»
  • History & Archaeology

The Apollo 11 Mission: The Most Important TV Event

Updated on February 13, 2017
Click thumbnail to view full-size
Niel Armstrong becoming the first person to walk on the moon.A split screen showing President Nixon on Earth talking to Niel Armstong and Buzz Aldrin on The Moon.Buzz Aldrin's footprint on the moon.Splashdown and recovery.President Nixon speaks to the Apollo 11 astronauts aboard the USS Hornet.  The astronauts are in isolation.  The Hornet +3 is a reference to the 3 astronauts added to the USS Hornet's passengers and crew.Tranquility Base.The isolation trailer at the Udvar-Hazy Center, June 2016.The isolation trailer at the Udvar-Hazy Center, June 2016.A mock up of the lunar module at the National Air & Space Museum in Washington, DC.
Niel Armstrong becoming the first person to walk on the moon.
Niel Armstrong becoming the first person to walk on the moon. | Source
A split screen showing President Nixon on Earth talking to Niel Armstong and Buzz Aldrin on The Moon.
A split screen showing President Nixon on Earth talking to Niel Armstong and Buzz Aldrin on The Moon. | Source
Buzz Aldrin's footprint on the moon.
Buzz Aldrin's footprint on the moon. | Source
Splashdown and recovery.
Splashdown and recovery. | Source
President Nixon speaks to the Apollo 11 astronauts aboard the USS Hornet.  The astronauts are in isolation.  The Hornet +3 is a reference to the 3 astronauts added to the USS Hornet's passengers and crew.
President Nixon speaks to the Apollo 11 astronauts aboard the USS Hornet. The astronauts are in isolation. The Hornet +3 is a reference to the 3 astronauts added to the USS Hornet's passengers and crew. | Source
Tranquility Base.
Tranquility Base. | Source
The isolation trailer at the Udvar-Hazy Center, June 2016.
The isolation trailer at the Udvar-Hazy Center, June 2016. | Source
The isolation trailer at the Udvar-Hazy Center, June 2016.
The isolation trailer at the Udvar-Hazy Center, June 2016. | Source
A mock up of the lunar module at the National Air & Space Museum in Washington, DC.
A mock up of the lunar module at the National Air & Space Museum in Washington, DC. | Source

The Apollo 11 Mission on Television

A model of the lunar module descended onto a replicated lunar surface with the audio of the transmissions between the astronauts and the Houston Space Center. The landing was simulated twice because the lunar dust delayed the actual landing by a few seconds. Then the screen flashed “Lunar Landing Confirmed”. We had done it. Human beings had landed on the moon.

The subsequent lunar walk was anti-climactic by comparison. Traveling to and landing safely on the moon was the hard part. The lunar walk was a matter of putting on a space suit, climbing down a short ladder, and walking around a bit. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were where no one was before. We were watching it live. This event displayed the great technological achievements mankind had made.

Viewing the event live showed how something can be simultaneously fascinating and boring. There were no moon monsters or space aliens. The U.S. spent billions of dollars to plant a flag and bring back a few pounds of rocks. When Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins splashed down a sailor scrubbed them down. They were to be put in an isolation chamber in case they got some kind of lunar infection. This seemed a ridiculous precaution since every scientist of importance knew there wasn’t any life on the moon. President Nixon spoke to the astronauts and called their lunar mission the most important event since the creation. This was arguably true from a scientific achievement standpoint. The live coverage of events also showed the contrast between the United States and the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union didn’t show their space missions live. It illustrated the difference between a free and open society and a secretive totalitarian society.

The Apollo 11 mission was

See results

Aftermath

After the Apollo 11 mission U.S. sentiment shifted towards spending less on space exploration. Fewer people were interested in watching moon walks. During the Apollo 12 moon walk Astronaut Alan Bean accidentally moved the camera so it faced the sun. This ended the view of the moon walk for the home audience. During one lunar mission viewers got to see the same view of the lunar landscape for a long time with astronauts out of sight. The astronauts didn’t come back into view and the feed ended with a quick camera movement and the astronauts turning off the camera. The last lunar mission was Apollo 17 in December 1972. NASA cancelled 3 other planned lunar missions. NASA began the Skylab missions in 1973. The last Skylab mission was in 1974. The last Apollo mission, Apollo18, was the Apollo-Soyuz mission in 1975. Then the U.S. went through its longest gap between human space flights. NASA didn’t send anyone into space until STS-1, the first Columbia mission. While humans haven’t left low earth orbit since Apollo 17 crewless spacecraft have extensively explored the solar system and Voyager 1 is in interstellar space.

Tom Lehrer - Satirist

"... what is it that will make it possible for us to spend 20,000 million dollars of our taxpayer's money to put some idiot on the moon..."

The Other View

The Apollo program cost $25.4 billion.[i] Many at the time believed the resources would be better spent on the many problems on Earth. In Fiscal Year 1969 space, science, and technology accounted for 3% of the budget. Social Security, unemployment, labor, Medicare, health, education, employment training, and social services accounted for 32% of the budget.[ii] These numbers indicate the U.S. was spending much more on solving earthly problems. Arguably the Apollo money would have made little impact if spent on other government programs. The moon missions, and the views from space, were examples of government extravagance and easy targets for ridicule. When the Apollo 13 had its mishap most people expressed concern for the astronauts and confidence NASA would bring them home safely. During person on the street interviews by Channel 7 in New York one man expressed the hope the mishap would convince people to stop wasting money on missions to the moon where we just bring back some rocks. A young woman stated if the astronauts died it would be no worse than those killed in Vietnam. During the time of the Apollo 13 mission Staff Sergeant Dennis W. Neal and Private Earl Henderson died in Vietnam.[iii]


[i] Apollo 11 Moon Landing 45 Years Looking Back at Mankind’s Giant Leap, by Sebastian Anthony, July 21, 2014. (http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/186600-apollo-11-moon-landing-45-years-looking-back-at-mankinds-giant-leap)

[ii] Federal Budget Inside.gov (http://federal-budget.insidegov.com/l/71/1969 )

[iii] Faces from the Wall (http://facesfromthewall.com/1970apr.html). Staff Sergeant Neal died from enemy action, April 15, 1970. Private Henderson died in a non-combat related helicopter crash, April 16, 1970.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Robert Sacchi profile image
      Author

      Robert Sacchi 10 months ago

      I know the walking history book feeling, unfortunately. Next year will be 50 years since the first human lunar orbital mission, Apollo 8.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 10 months ago from North Texas

      I remember watching Armstrong on live TV walking on the moon back in 1969. I often feel like a walking history book. ;) Peggy is right in that many useful and helpful discoveries and inventions resulted from the space program.

    • Robert Sacchi profile image
      Author

      Robert Sacchi 20 months ago

      Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts. Yes, it was quite a day when Apollo 11 landed on the moon.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 20 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Many advances were made because of our space exploration. It is true that we have many problems here on earth that need solving, but we cannot close our eyes to science and discoveries. I saw that moon landing live on television. It was quite a feat at the time!

    • Robert Sacchi profile image
      Author

      Robert Sacchi 2 years ago

      Yes, you should be proud of that. Great going, and thank you for reading.

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      We got a lot more bang for our buck by spending $26 billion on space and all the new technology that came out of it (like these computers) than we got spending $22 trillion on a failed 'War on Poverty'.

      When you saw Neil Armstrong descend the ladder and heard him say " That's one small step for (a) man; one giant leap for mankind" it was relayed to Earth by a Unified S-band (USB) transceiver that I built as a Motorola precision mechanic in charge of final assembly. I'm kinda proud of that!

      Great Hub!

    • Robert Sacchi profile image
      Author

      Robert Sacchi 2 years ago

      That's true. In 10 years we went from human suborbital flight to orbiting and landing humans on the moon. Humans haven't been out of low Earth orbit since. The achievements with space probes and space observations have been incredible. We have a craft in interstellar space.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      The Apollo missions have gone down in history as controversial but the truth is we haven't fully explored all the advances made during that time.

      Great hub

      Lawrence