The Apollo 11 mission was the culmination of nearly a decade’s worth of work toward an American President’s vision. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy challenged NASA to put a man on the moon and return him safely by the end of the decade. The young leader did not live to see NASA rise to the challenge, but hundreds of millions of people around the world watched in awe as his vision became a reality. The mission lasted eight days and landed not one but two men, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, on the face of the moon. Here are some fun facts about the mission of which many people may be unaware.
Michael Collins flunked out of the space program.
Michael Collins, the third man on the mission, graduated flight school as a fighter pilot at the age of 22. He wasn’t accepted into the space program the first time that he applied to it. Although to this day he does not know the precise reason, he jokes that it was his response to a blank card during an inkblot test: “Well, of course, that’s eleven polar bears fornicating in a snowbank.” He reapplied the following year and was accepted.
Neil Armstrong may be misquoted.
“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” is one of the most famous quotes of the 20th century. It may also be inaccurate. Armstrong meant to say, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind,” and thought he did. At least one researcher, Peter Ford, claims to have found the missing “a” in studying the audio waveform, and researchers at Ohio State and Michigan State universities have said that the pronunciations of “for” and “for a” are extremely close to one another for natives of central Ohio, the area from which Armstrong hailed.
The Sea of Tranquility was not chosen for scientific value.
The mission’s landing site in the Sea of Tranquility, nicknamed the Tranquility Base, was chosen for logistical reasons, not scientific ones. The site had a slope of less than 2 degrees, was reachable with minimal propellant, and had good visibility, among other advantages.
Unable to pay for life insurance, in case of disaster, the astronauts made nontraditional plans to provide for their families
About to take an unprecedented trip 238,900 miles from the Earth's surface into space, the Astronauts were rightly concerned about what would happen to their families should the unthinkable happen. All three Astronauts were not able to afford the life insurance policy for Astronauts. To ensure their families were provided for, the three men turned to an unusual insurance policy....autographs. They signed hundreds of autographs and had close friends deliver these autographs to the families to be sold off for profit. While everyone in America was aware of the Astronauts and the journey they would undertake, should the trip prove fatal, their fame would have been even greater and the proceeds from the signed memorabilia would have allowed the families to make enough money to get by. Morbid, but practical. Some of these autographs were even post dated with the date of the launch and the date of the landing.
Whether there was life on the moon wasn’t known until two and a half weeks after the mission.
Scientists at the time of the Apollo 11 mission thought it unlikely that there was life on the moon, but none could say definitively that there wasn’t. While a remote possibility, the chances that there were germs on the moon that weren’t present on earth, posed such a tremendous risk that the astronauts were quarantined for two and a half weeks upon returning from their mission. When they first landed, three biological hazard suits were thrown into the capsule that the astronauts had to wear before exiting it. About three of those days in the quarantine period were on the USS Hornet, while the rest was at the Johnson Space Center in Houston in a specially designed quarantine center. None of the astronauts developed any sickness or brought back any "moon bugs" with them, and the rest is history!
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