50-year anniversary of the moon landing – what could possibly go wrong? 😉
As you can imagine, there’s a lot of room for error when sending a man to the moon for the first time. As we know (spoiler alert…they made it there, achieved their mission, and made it back again), but there were a couple of crucial points where it could have all gone horribly wrong. 😮
One such moment was when Armstrong was piloting the lunar module (named Eagle) on to the moon’s surface. The appointed landing space was too rocky (if Eagle didn’t land perfectly flat it wouldn’t be able to take off again), so Armstrong had to find a new spot…and do it when he was running out of fuel. 🚀
This is where Armstrong’s superior skills as a pilot came into play. He took manual control and guided the lunar module down to a safe spot, avoiding boulders and a crater. But while he was doing this, Mission Control was giving him a countdown – if he didn’t land within a few seconds, he’d run out of fuel, and would need to abort. After four days, and travelling 380,000km through space, it came down to a matter of seconds between a successful landing and aborted one. ⏱️
Crisis averted on landing, but another one to come on take-off. While preparing to launch Eagle off the moon and back to Michael Collins orbiting around in Columbia, Aldrin notices that a switch has broken off – but not just any switch – the circuit breaker switch needed to turn on the electrical power for the ascent engine!
Cue a flurry of activity as Mission Control tries to think of a solution, but Aldrin beats them to it, suggesting that using his pen, shoved in the hole where the switch should be just might do it. Sure enough, the pen idea works, and Eagle takes off. The entire mission and its crew, saved by a felt-tip pen.🖊️
Science is all about discovery, ingenuity and problem-solving – something displayed in spades on the Apollo 11 mission.
Speaking of discovery, next up we’ll have a look at what we brought back from the moon.
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