While the first moon landing has been an amazing achievement in its own right, there is also a fascinating amount of trivia that includes the landing. ‘That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind’ Those were the famous words of astronaut Neil Armstrong, who made the first human footprints on the Moon. Apollo 11 was the government mission to perform a manned moon landing with the spaceship ‘Eagle’, launched from the ‘Saturn V’ rocket. The Moon landing is arguably one of the most critical milestones of human civilization and its importance still resonates today. While the event is still hugely popular, both in the scientific world and in pop culture, several fun facts about the mission are still relatively unknown. The following list includes 10 amazing facts about the Apollo 11 moon landing.
- 10. Armstrong was carrying a piece of wood from a Wright brothers’ airplane.
- 9. If Apollo 11 had failed, President Nixon would have finished his speech.
- 8. Armstrong and Aldrin spent nearly an entire day on the Moon’s surface.
- 7. After returning to Earth, the astronauts had to be quarantined.
- 6. The astronauts left pictures of people and recordings of many languages on the surface of the Moon.
- 5. The astronauts declared…
- 4. The astronauts landed with only 25 seconds of fuel left.
- 3. Armstrong’s exact sentence is controversial.
- 2. The landing was watched on television by an estimated 600 million people.
- 1. Although three astronauts were sent to the Moon, only two of them have been to the Moon.
10. Armstrong was carrying a piece of wood from a Wright brothers’ airplane.
The first recorded flight was made by the Wright brothers in 1903, 66 years before the first manned lunar mission. Neil Armstrong thus thought it appropriate to bring pieces of wood from Wright’s pioneering airplane and a piece of cloth from the airplane to symbolize the great advancement in aviation. Armstrong kept these in his personal preference kit (PPK). The Wright brothers, like Neil, were from Ohio. The artifacts are now in the Smithsonian museum in Washington, DC
9. If Apollo 11 had failed, President Nixon would have finished his speech.
Although Apollo 11 now has a permanent place in world history, the success of Apollo 11 at the time of its launch was not so certain. The mission was at such high risk of failure that President Richard Nixon had a speech ready in the event of a catastrophe. Since no one had ever landed on the Moon until then, it was not known whether it was even possible to ascend from the Moon and return to Earth. Fortunately, however, there was never an opportunity to use the speech, although copies of the text have since surfaced.
8. Armstrong and Aldrin spent nearly an entire day on the Moon’s surface.
The period of time spent outside the probe while on the Moon is known as “extravehicular activity,” or EVA, a term that includes any astronaut activity performed outside the Earth’s atmosphere. Due to the many experiments the astronauts performed on the Moon and the placement of the many instruments involved, the total EVA lasted 21 hours and 36 minutes. However, only a few hours of time was spent on the lunar surface itself, as the astronauts also took breaks in the probe.
7. After returning to Earth, the astronauts had to be quarantined.
After landing on Earth, the three astronauts were immediately taken to a quarantine facility where they stayed for 21 days. The reason behind this strange move was to avoid contamination from microorganisms carried by the crew from the Moon, as the astronauts were returning from very unfamiliar territory. No one in the space program was sure whether the lunar surface was sterile or not. Of course, later studies confirmed that the Moon does not have any form of life.
6. The astronauts left pictures of people and recordings of many languages on the surface of the Moon.
The astronauts left several artifacts on the Moon’s surface, including photographs of people and audio recordings in several languages to reflect the mission’s global significance. Medallions bearing the names of the three astronauts who died on the launch pad in Apollo 1 and the two cosmonauts who died in a similar accident all also remained on the moon’s surface.
5. The astronauts declared…
In 2015, Buzz Aldrin tweeted a “travel voucher” outlining the nature of the cost of his journey from the atmosphere, just as someone would for a journey with a more earthly character. In addition, he revealed that on their return to Earth, the astronauts were required to sign customs forms, declaring they were carrying “moon rock and moon dust samples.”
4. The astronauts landed with only 25 seconds of fuel left.
In line with the complicated planning of the Apollo 11 mission, a site on the moon was chosen as the landing site that was considered an obvious choice. However, while the Apollo probe was descending, the two astronauts realized the site was filled with boulders and knew it would be dangerous to perform their descent. Therefore, Armstrong began manually navigating the probe, which meant skimming the high-risk spot, a decision that meant more fuel would be consumed while skimming the site. The probe had set a fuel limit where upon reaching the probe it would automatically abort the landing. The probe landed 25 seconds before reaching this point. What this means is that if the probe had been 25 seconds late in landing, the mission would have automatically stopped, forcing them to travel back to Colombia, which was in orbit around the moon.
3. Armstrong’s exact sentence is controversial.
“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” is an expression many are familiar with, but did you know Armstrong himself disputes its veracity? The exact quote, Armstrong claimed, is actually “that’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” While many have claimed not to hear this subtle variation, linguists have confirmed that Armstrong does in fact pronounce an “a,” leading to the quote that the article is officially presented in parentheses.
2. The landing was watched on television by an estimated 600 million people.
The record-breaking event was seen by millions of viewers around the planet. In the days leading up to the mission, the media everywhere talked extensively about the mission, sparking widespread public anticipation. The event received widespread media coverage in the United States and it is estimated that more than 53 million families have watched the mission on television. The worldwide viewership was estimated at over 550 million viewers, a world record at the time.
1. Although three astronauts were sent to the Moon, only two of them have been to the Moon.
Many people with knowledge of the Apollo mission believe that the probe carried only two astronauts, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, with Armstrong being the more famous of the two. While it’s true that the module that landed on the Moon carried the two astronauts, it was three in all when they left Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on July 16, 1969. As the Apollo spaceship approached the Moon, it left a module that revolved around the Moon and was piloted by the third astronaut, Michael Collins. While Collins didn’t experience the glory of stepping on the Moon’s surface firsthand, the mission wouldn’t have been possible without him.