Apollo 11: Looking Back at the First Moon Landing 45 Years Ago
Former NASA engineers reminisce about the Apollo 11 moon mission, its historic landing and its amazing accomplishments in interviews with eWEEK.Forty-five years ago this weekend, humans landed on the moon for the first time as astronauts from the Apollo 11 spaceflight began exploring the lunar surface on July 20, 1969. NASA astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin spent only a few hours on the moon on that first voyage, but their accomplishment still stands tall more than four decades after humans first visited another celestial body, far from the bonds of Earth. To commemorate that historic first moon mission, eWEEK talked with several former NASA Mission Control engineers who worked to support Apollo 11 back then, helping to guide the three-man crew through the launch, the voyage to the moon, the landing and the long return to Earth. (Astronaut Michael Collins, who piloted the command module and didn't land on the moon's surface, remained in moon orbit while his crewmates explored the lunar surface.) Forty-five years after the success of Apollo 11, the former engineers still beam with pride and excitement about the spaceflight and its events. Gene Kranz was one of several flight directors for Apollo 11 at Houston's Mission Control headquarters at the time, while John "Jack" Garman was a 24-year-old NASA computer engineer. Jerry Bostick was a 30-year-old engineer who was a member of Kranz's flight team for the mission. Garman and Bostick were two of the many flight engineers who worked with the early open-source software that helped take Apollo 11 to the moon. The nail-biting landing of Apollo 11's lunar module on the moon's surface on July 20, 1969, is still what Garman remembers the most. "It's like yesterday and at the same time, it's like it happened long ago in a galaxy far, far away," he said. "My biggest memory was when Buzz Aldrin said, 'picking up some dust'" as the lunar module's lone engine stirred up a large cloud of lunar dust as the spidery craft touched down on the surface of the moon.