opinion

Remembering the 50TH anniversary of the moon landing

25 July 2019 - 95   - 0

This year, on July 20, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. On July 20, 1969 at 9.56 pm EST (GMT –4), the US Astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first human to set foot on another celestial body.


By RAJA  WICKRAMASINGHE 

This year, on July 20, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. On July 20, 1969 at 9.56 pm EST (GMT –4), the US Astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first human to set foot on another celestial body.

This was considered the single greatest technological achievement of all time the human race accomplished. Setting foot on the moon, his first words, he said “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” True to Neil Armstrong’s words, man has made giant strides and trod on the lunar surface extensively in the last half-century.

The TV views all around the world didn’t see the historic moment on TV when astronaut Neil Armstrong stepped onto the surface on the Moon, but heard his first words.

After Neil Armstrong set up the 70-millimetre camera he carried with him, on the moon, and the picture of Astronaut Edwin Aldrin descending the ladder of the lunar module “Eagle on to the Moon’s surface shortly afterwards was seen by the TV views all around the world. Edwin Aldrin became the second human to set foot on another celestial body. It was the first picture of the historic occasion. In Sri Lanka (then Ceylon), we were listening to the commentary relayed live over radio Voice of America (VOA).    

Neil Armstrong’s first words “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind;” later, Armstrong said, he was misquoted and that he actually said, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Later, researchers confirmed that due to combination of many reasons the “a” may have been missed and not heard clearly. The two astronauts, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin spent 2 1/2 hours on the lunar surface and docked with the Command Module “Columbia,” in which Michael Collins the other Astronaut in the mission meanwhile was orbiting the Moon.

The mission that took eight days (195 hours and 18 minutes) after Lounging on June16, at 8.32 am EST (GMT –4), from Kennedy Space Center, Splashed down on July 24, at 11:50 am EST (GMT –4), on the North Pacific ocean.  

The first human to step on the moon, Neil Armstrong died on August 25, 2012 at the age of 82. The second human to step on the moon, 89 year old Edwin Aldrin and the command-module pilot, 88 year-old Michael Collins of the voyage to moon in 1969 are celebrating this year’s 50th anniversary of their great feat.   
   
Once a metaphor for the unattainable; the Moon, became an ever-present focus as the United States and the Soviet Union vied to be the first to land humans on the lunar surface. In 1961 the “space race” between the two nations was intensified. On April 12, 1961 the cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space, and on May 5, 1961, U.S. Alan Sheppard, the first American in space only flew on a short suborbital; not orbiting the Earth, as Gagarin had done. 

Landing a human on the Moon hastened with US President John F. Kennedy announcing on May 25, 1961, before a special joint session of Congress, the ambitious goal of sending an American safely to the Moon before the end of the decade.

President Kennedy believed in sending astronauts to Earth's nearest neighbour by the end of the 1960s was so important to the United States and it marked a key moment in the US Apollo program and space exploration.

A massive human effort and enormous expenditure were committed to NASA's overall human spaceflight efforts to the Apollo programme designed to execute President Kennedy's goal that was achieved on July 20, 1969, when Apollo 11 Neil Armstrong stepped on Moon's surface.  

The Apollo program which ran from 1963 to 1972 was designed to land humans on the Moon and bring them safely back to Earth.  During many missions undertaken in this period, the six missions that landed on the Moon returned a wealth of scientific data and almost 400 kilograms of lunar samples. Experiments included soil mechanics, meteoroids, seismic, heat flow, lunar ranging, magnetic fields, and solar wind experiments.  

During the Apollo programme the worst setback and one of the worst tragedies in the history of spaceflight was the tragedy that struck on January 27, 1967 when the crew, Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee were killed in a fire in the Apollo Command Module at Cape Canaveral.

At the time they were taking part in pre-training for the first crewed Apollo flight as the Earth orbiting mission was scheduled to be launched on 21 February 1967. The program was put on hold, after exhaustive investigations into the accident and number of changes were instigated in the program over the next year and a half was the Apollo 11 was lounged. 

Space travel was not free from accidents; many accidents and disasters have occurred. The space shuttle “Challenger” disaster that occurred on January 28, 1986 – Just over a minute after the space shuttle lifted off, and the disintegration of the space shuttle “Columbia,” on February 1, 2003 as it re-entered the atmosphere – seven minutes from landing were the most devastating accidents in the history of space expedition.

Death of The entire seven member crew of the “Challenger” and all the seven crew members of the space shuttle “Columbia” on board caused widespread concerns about the space programs. However, with drawbacks and dangers in space travel, the humans have explored the Moon and the space extensively in the last half century; is attracting a new generation of space explorers and entrepreneurs and is now coming to prominence as a destination for space explorers. 

While human missions to Mars remain a bit of a distant goal fraught with many unsolved challenges, including the heavy doses of radiation astronauts will be exposed to; the moon has the advantage of being Earth’s celestial companion.

It presents more manageable risks for humans and a genuine business case for entrepreneurs looking for a stake in the next phase of space exploration. As the U.S. Apollo program wound down after six manned landings from 1969 to 1972, NASA moved on to the space shuttle and then the International Space Station (ISS).

Over the years, with space history’s tragedies its continuous human presence in orbit is, no doubt, a “giant leap” for the mankind. NASA’s next planned moon shot program “Artemis” is named after the twin sister of Greek mythology – Apollo; seeks to land the first woman and next man on the Moon’s surface by 2024. 
 
Meanwhile the scientists’ new paradigm was all about making space routinely accessible to many more individuals from many more countries. Already this year there is a sense of acceleration toward the moon. In January, China became the first country to place an unmanned “lander” on the moon’s far side, another step toward its own manned mission.

In June, India launched its first lunar “lander.” And in April – SpaceIL – Israeli non-profit organization narrowly missed becoming the first privately funded organization to successfully place a spacecraft on the moon’s surface. All of this suggests that the focus is back on the Moon and Programmes are lining up for something more permanent that people are not going to go back to visit, they’re going to stay soon. 


 

  Comments - 0

  • Leave a comment



Top Stories

SC rejects petitions against bill to abolish death penalty

The Supreme Court has informed that it has dismissed three petitions challenging the private member's bill to abolish the death penalty, Deputy...

20 August 2019 - Views : 1

Court relaxes bail conditions on Kasun Palisena over bond scam case

20 August 2019

Presidential candidate won't be chosen by a vote : UNP General Secretary

20 August 2019

PSC to question Presidential Committee today

20 August 2019



style="display:inline-block;width:300px;height:250px"
data-ad-client="ca-pub-6200193111498313"
data-ad-slot="1999573490">

 

Features & Analysis

'Mega Pride - Pride of the Lion' photographic exhibition

The ‘Mega Pride – Pride of the Lion’ photographic exhibition by the Minister of Megapolis and Weste...

'Strings of Harmony' : Celebrations to mark the 73rd Independence Day of India

‘Strings of Harmony’ – a Santoor Jugalbandi by Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma and his son Pandit Rahul Sh...

Sri Lankan Handicrafts Day in Beijing

The Embassy of Sri Lanka in Beijing in collaboration with the International Bamboo and Rattan Organization (INBAR), o...

Day three of Swim Week Colombo, a colourful finale

The last day of CFW Swim Week Colombo took place at Shangri La Hotel Ballroom recently. There was an excitement that ...



style="display:inline-block;width:300px;height:250px"
data-ad-client="ca-pub-6200193111498313"
data-ad-slot="1999573490">