Today is the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 touching down on the moon. It was the first manned moon landing. The lunar module, dubbed Eagle, was piloted by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. Six hours after touching down, Armstrong stepped off the module’s ladder and became the first earthling to set foot on another celestial body. He had planned his speech carefully: “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Because the transmission was cutting out, people thought he said “small step for man,” but he insisted that he said “a man.”
The Eagle left a crater a foot deep in the soft soil, which Armstrong later described as being like powdered charcoal. Armstrong and Aldrin got right to work, gathering soil and rock samples and taking photographs, in case the mission needed to be aborted. They also performed a series of exercises, and found that it was fairly easy to get around on the moon, even though the powdery soil was slippery. The astronauts left behind some scientific equipment, an American flag, and a plaque, which read: “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the moon July 1969 AD. We came in peace for all mankind.”
According to Satellite Internet, “10% of Americans think it was faked.”
The good news is that most people believe we made it to the moon in 1969, so don’t give up on humanity just yet. But 10% is higher than the 6% who said it was fake in the Gallup survey about the moon landing in 1999. This suggests that there are more moon landing deniers now than there were 20 years ago.
Survey results showed that more moon landing conspiracists pop up with every new generation. Millennials and Gen Zers between the ages of 18 and 34 are six times more likely to believe that NASA pulled the biggest con of the twentieth century than people who were actually around for the first moon landing are. Younger participants were also more likely to identify as flat-Earthers, but that’s more of a global problem.
It’s possible that younger people are more likely to not believe in the moon landing because they didn’t watch the actual event. If that’s the case, hopefully NASA’s upcoming moon missions will help convince them. That said, the majority of all age groups still agree that the moon landing was real and the Earth is round. Thank goodness.
But don’t tell astronaut Buzz Aldrin it didn’t happen, or you can expect his fist to connect with your jaw.
There was no assurance the mission would be successful or that the men would survive as this letter penned by the White House ahead of the mission attests to:
…it was a huge engineering accomplishment to get humans to the moon and back. “It took around 400,000 people to land humankind on the moon,” astronaut Michael Collins, Apollo 11’s command module pilot who did not land on the surface of the moon, reminds us in Google’s commemorative Doodle video. Those were engineers, coders, scientists, mechanics, doctors, and so many more professions working in concert to make the mission a success.
The astronauts were launched aboard the largest rocket ever built, the Saturn V. Once launched into space, they then had to essentially reassemble the spacecraft mid-flight to the moon. Then that spacecraft had to enter orbit around the moon. There, Buzz Aldrin and Armstrong boarded a lunar lander and descended to the surface, where they spent 21 hours and 26 minutes. After, they had to come back.
Check out the annotated description of the journey in this video. Nothing about this was easy.
It was an age of heroes.
Volkswagen USA released the powerful video below today, that puts the mission in historical context. And suggests the next mission should be carbon neutral energy.
We’re here for it.