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Humankind's Greatest Achievement

15 Jul 2019

How many movies, songs and anecdotes have sprung from humanity’s first landing on the moon? This milestone event, which took place on July 20, 1969, seemed to encapsulate both the frenzy and change of the Sixties.

It was on 20th July that astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin (“Buzz”) Aldrin Jr. bounced among lunar craters and Armstrong uttered the oft-quoted line, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” But did you know that the Apollo spacecraft itself weighed 44 tons and stood nearly 60 ft. high?

The famous Apollo 11 landing was only one mission in several decades of space exploration. During this tremendous period, the USSR and the United States led the way in the exploration of the great unknown of space.

Television sets around the world were tuned into the historic lunar landing of Apollo 11 on July 20, 1969. For those who witnessed the event, the team of three Apollo 11 astronauts — Neil Armstrong, “Buzz” Aldrin, and Michael Collins (who orbited the craft around the moon)—seemed to embody the ideals and hopes of all human beings.

From this trip and subsequent Apollo missions, much was learned about the physical constitution and early history of the earth’s only natural satellite, including information about magnetic fields, heat flow, volcanism, and seismic activity. The total lunar rock sample returned to earth weighed nearly 900 lbs. (400 kg).

Earlier advances in rocket technology allowed for the initial lift-off of the Apollo spacecraft. The three-stage Saturn V rocket, developed 7.5 million lbs. (3.4 million kg) of thrust at liftoff, giving the Apollo spacecraft a powerful boost. At launch, the total assembly stood 363 ft (110 m) high and weighed more than 3,000 tons.

Did you know that...

The surface of the Moon features a huge number of impact craters from comets and asteroids that have collided with the surface over time. Because the Moon lacks an atmosphere or weather these craters remain well preserved.

Although research is continuing, most scientists agree that the Moon features small amounts of water.

The Moon rotates on its axis in around the same length of time it takes to orbit the Earth. This means that from Earth we only ever see around 60% of its surface (50% at any one time).

The side that we can see from Earth is called the near side while the other side is called the far side (it is sometimes called the dark side despite the fact that it is illuminated by the Sun just as much as the near side).

The Moon is very hot during the day but very cold at night. The average surface temperature of the Moon is 107 degrees Celsius during the day and -153 degrees Celsius at night.

The Earth’s tides are largely caused by the gravitational pull of the Moon.

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