A NASA engineer was interviewed for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission last year, and he unveiled what it was to be a part of the team that achieved such an accomplishment.
On July 20th, 1969, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin allegedly completed an apparently impossible mission to the Moon. The team was said to have stepped on the lunar surface, and placing a United States flag in the satellite’s soil.
How the Mission Control Managed the Expedition
NASA engineer David Baker unveiled the fact that while the expedition took place, the Mission Control station was far from calm.
He said: “During the build-up to Apollo, I found myself really among common sentiments for regard to what we were doing. When you are young, you’ve got a God-given right to change the world; that’s how all young people feel, and here we were being given blank cheques to do it. We couldn’t see any ceilings on out opportunities, and we really thought we were redesigning the social, economic, and essentially the management of human societies on a path towards a space-age era.”
“Everything we had done previously, before the actual attempt at the landing right up to the point where we were eight kilometers above the Moon, we’d done on previous flights,” he added.
Mr. Baker, who was a Space Systems Engineer from 1965 to 1984, explained that tensions were high as they tried something that was labeled as impossible.
He narrated: “That last eight kilometers, going down to the surface, flying around the curvature of the Moon, much of that was completely new ground. We’d never done that before, the expectation was raised very highly indeed, and as we came to that landing point, we were seeing lots of things that gave us a heart-stopping series of several moments.”
“While the actual landing itself was only the beginning of three minutes of frantic evaluation to see if the spacecraft was in a condition where it could stay and not have to immediately lift off because of some damage, I think that emotional upwelling pushed everything else aside,” Mr. Baker explained in the interview with Times back in 2019.
The Power of the Rocket
On July 16th of last year, Michael Collins, who managed the Command Module throughout the Apollo 11 mission, returned to Florida’s Kennedy Space Center after 50 years. Mr. Collins was the only one member of the team that attended, which means that Aldrin, at 89 years old, did not participate in the event, and Armstrong, who was their commander, passed away in 2012.
Speaking at launchpad 39A, from where the rocket launched half a century ago, Collins explained how he felt throughout the take-off.
He said: “The shockwave from the rocket power hits you, your whole body is shaking. This gives you an entirely different concept of what power really means. You’re suspended in the cockpit as you lift off. From then on, it’s a quieter, more rational, silent ride all the way to the Moon. We, the crew, felt the weight of the world on our shoulders, we knew that everyone would be looking at us, friend or foe.”