On July 20th, 1969 at seventeen minutes past eight, the human race reached its pinnacle. A group of humans had been sent to a celestial body and set foot on it a day later. With the immortal words “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind”, astronaut Neil Armstrong succinctly captured in one line what the whole world was thinking. The first Moon landing remains the most-watched event on television in the UK by a mile and it is unlikely to ever be beaten. It also illustrates the power that television had gained over all other forms of information media at the time. With companies offering TV Aerial installations in Swansea, London, Birmingham and virtually anywhere else in the UK you can be sure of a good reception and never to miss the important moments in the world. What set up this momentous event in the Human race’s existence?
The groundwork for the trip lay in conflict. Although the Soviet Union and the USA and its allies in Western Europe and Japan were not at open war directly there were other ways in which they could compete. The Space Race was a period that began with the first salvo of the launch of Sputnik in 1957 by the Russians as the first man-made object to leave the Earth’s atmosphere and the First Moon landing was the coup de grace fulfilling a pledge by President Kennedy in 1962 that before the decade was out a crew would be sent to the Moon and returned safely.
The Journey began on the top of a Saturn V rocket blasting off from the Kennedy Space center named in honor of the assassinated President who had made the pledge. Previous missions had orbited the Moon and it was found that a three-stage combination of craft would be used. Only one part, the Command module would return to earth as the Lunar module would land but the Command module would remain in orbit and the second stage of the lunar module would blast up and meet it to return to earth. Using the slingshot of the Moons gravity plus the directional rocket burn on the Service module would bring the astronauts home and then jettison the command module for it to splash down back on earth.
It remains the pinnacle of human achievement in terms of technology although many have commented that the cost could have been better spent on Earth on people rather than providing a comprehensive win over the Soviets. The race is thought to have ended positively with the first multiple nation missions in space with the USA/Russian Apollo – Soyuz test project that saw astronauts from both sides share information and technology allowing two ships to dock together and meet in space.