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Nothing But The Facts About Apollo 11

written by: Sean Fears•edited by: RC Davison•updated: 8/19/2009

Apollo 11 was one of the crowning achievements of human history and the first time we as a species have set foot on another celestial body. Here are some of the facts that surround and support that incredible achievement.

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    Apollo 11, the end result of eleven years of concerted effort in manned spaceflight by the United States of America, represented a literally monumental effort on the part of Presidents, test pilots, countless engineers, technicians, support personnel, Wernher von Braun, and, of course, the handful of astronauts that reached out to that nearest celestial neighbor of ours. In some ways, it seems amazing that we managed to reach the Moon forty years ago. Though technology has improved significantly since that time, Eagle's landing on the moon on the 20th of July in the year 1969 AD will stand as an achievement that forever changed our relationship with the planet that is our home.

    Article Image It is doubtless that many sacrifices were made by members of both the National Aeronautics and Space Administration family and the contractors who aided them, but none could have been greater than that of Virgil Grissom, Edward White, and Roger Chaffee, whose death in a cockpit fire in Apollo 1 motivated numerous safety changes in both the Command/Service Module and Lunar Excursion Module - know as the LEM.

    While many remember the words of Neil Armstrong in that moment when he, and, based on his own words, the rest of us as well, touched the surface of the Moon, perhaps the most enduring component of the mission will be the plaque mounted on one of the legs of the LEM; bearing a map of the Earth and signatures of then-President Nixon and the crew of Apollo 11, it reads:


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    The Facts

    Official Designation: AS-506

    Crew: Neil Armstrong, Commander; Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr., Lunar Excursion Module (LEM) pilot, LM-5 Eagle; Michael Collins, Command Module (CM) pilot, CSM-107 Columbia

    Backup Crew: James Lovell, Backup Commander; Fred Haise, Backup LEM pilot; William Anders, Backup CM pilot

    Article Image Launch: 16 July 1969, 13:32:00 GMT

    Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center, Launch Pad 39A

    Landed on Moon: 20 July, 20:17:40 GMT

    Lunar departure: 21 July, 17:54:01 GMT

    Splashdown: 24 July, 16:50:35 GMT

    Duration of Mission: 195 hrs, 18 min, 35 secs

    Extravehicular Activity:

    • Commenced: 21 July, 02:56:15 GMT
    • Duration: 2 hours 31 minutes
    • Distance covered: over 200 meters

    Amount of Lunar Material Collected: 21.7 kg (47.7 pounds)

    Saturn V Specifications:

    • Take-off weight: 6.7 million pounds
    • Lift-off thrust: over 7.5 million pounds
    • Stages: 3
    • Payload to low-Earth orbit: 130 tons

    Payload to Lunar orbit: 50 tons

    Total Apollo Program Cost: $25.4 Billion (1969 dollars)

    Further information can be found in this article on the Saturn V and this series on Project Apollo.