Apollo 11 Mission Commander Neil Armstrong and Lunar Module Pilot Buzz Aldrin are now on course to the surface of the Moon, after undocking from Columbia. I'm certainly not the great Walter Cronkite, but I'm liveblogging the historic event here.
[Events shown in reverse chronological order. Timestamps indicate expected time for landing—obviously in July 20 1969]
Well, the landing liveblog is over, people. Houston has given the stay signal, so everything is good. Buzz says it looks beautiful outside. I believe him. Head to We Choose the Moon to hear the chatter between Houston and Tranquility Base.
Three minutes on the surface
They are now in the stay/no stay control phase. Mission controllers are making sure all data is ok. Everything seems fine. Neil and Buzz will be taking off their helmets and gloves after they complete the stay/no stay. Houston says all looks perfect.
Seems like everything has worked out perfectly. Eagle is at Tranquility base now. All systems nominal. Neil has burned almost all the fuel reserved for the descent looking for a good landing spot. The one that the computer picked was full of huge boulders. The guy has saved the day, but people at control were freaking out just a minute ago.
Houston: Roger, Twank...Tranquility, we copy you on the ground. You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue here. We're breathing again. Thanks a lot!
Neil: Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.
Neil: Out of detent.
Aldrin: Mode control - both auto. Descent engine command override off. Engine arm - off. 413 is in.
Buzz: Contact light! Okay, engine stop. ACA - out of detent.
160, 6 and half down.
1 and half down.
This is it. Last minute people. All looking good, Neil on manual control looking for a good spot. Fuel going low fast. Holy fuck this guy.
Everything looking good. 3200 feet. All go for landing.
Eagle is flying good. Data is good down at Houston control.
It's looking good now, but Neil is looking for a spot for landing. Feels better than the simulator, he says.
33,000 feet now. They have land on their window.
They got a data dropout but still looking good. How the hell you get data dropout and "still look good"?
Everything seems ok. Capcom says is ok. They are go to continue powered descent.
They have passed the mark. Their position is off.
Ignition. 46,000 feet continuing descent. Holy frack that engine is loud.
1 minute to ignition. High gain signal is clear.
Buzz Aldrin is now reading the descent checklist to Neil.
All system go for descent. 3 30 until ignition. OK, I'm not up there and I'm about to smash the keyboard out of pure nervousness.
Five minutes from ignition and Houston keeps losing them on the high gain antenna. No time to send a repairman up there.
There are problems now. Problems with the computer programs. Some errors popping up. This doesn't feel good at all. They have overridden the errors.
10.7 nautical miles from ignition for final descent, says capcom. This is it, people. It's now or never.
They are experience some communication problems now.
Guidance says we are go for landing. All data is ok. We are off to a good start. Mission controllers are "keeping it cool" but you can tell everyone knows this the time to be heroes. No room for errors.
Sound is great now. Neil is giving data on residuals.
Lots of noise now. Houston is asking Columbia about LEM status, as they have lost signal right now. Switching to the big antenna.
LEM signal acquisition. Waiting for Neil to say something. You Apollo 11 commander you!
"Columbia reading loud and clear!" Capcom is asking how everything went. Collins says THE EAGLE IS OK! He says everything went on beautifully: "Babe, everything's going just swimmingly. Beautiful".
We have acquisition of signal from the Command Module. Capcom is trying to communicate with Columbia right now.
One minute and 31 seconds from Command Module signal acquisition. 2 minutes from LEM signal acquisition. Houston control is getting ready for final descent.
Trusted sources inside the White House are telling us that President Nixon is walking nervously up and down the Oval Office, mumbling something about "that damn Kennedy." He has two speeches on his desk. One is only to be read in case of disaster:
"Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace. These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope for their recovery. But they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice.
"These two men are laying down their lives in mankind's most noble goal: the search for truth and understanding. They will be mourned by their families and friends; they will be mourned by their nation; they will be mourned by the people of the world; they will be mourned by a Mother Earth that dared send two of her sons into the unknown.
"In their exploration, they stirred the people of the world to feel as one; in their sacrifice, they bind more tightly the brotherhood of man. In ancient days, men looked at stars and saw their heroes in the constellations. In modern times, we do much the same, but our heroes are epic men of flesh and blood.
"Others will follow, and surely find their way home. Man's search will not be denied. But these men were the first, and they will remain the foremost in our hearts.
"For every human being who looks up at the moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind."
Nothing yet from Columbia or Eagle.
Hey, check out Buzz Aldrin in the LEM. He's happy.
Capcom is babbling again about how many people are in the control room, watching the operation. John Glenn is there, by the way. So is Alan Shepard, who later landed on the Moon with Apollo 14. Pete Conrad—commander or Apollo 12—and Jim Lowell—commander of Apollo XIII—are there too.
Did you know that one million people gathered in Florida to see the launch of the Apollo 11 mission? Neither did I. An estimated 500 million people watched the landing live.
Did I say you can listen to all this live at We Choose the Moon?
This is when Phil Schiller makes a joke about how everything worked fine at rehearsal. No signal re-acquisition yet.
Less than one hour from landing and nothing from Columbia or Eagle yet. Are these guys partying with Pink Floyd up there or what?
Static noise getting stronger. I guess they will reappear any time now. I'm sure the engine should be ok. Unless the Nazis shot them now. I'm sure people at capcom keep looking at their watches nervously.
Time for some chocolate as we wait for the signal to come back. I'm actually getting nervous here.
Columbia will come first inline. Hopefully LEM will also reappear in one piece.
The ignition should be over now. We are two minutes from LEM signal acquisition.
One minute from the LEM ignition for descent orbit insertion. This is happening on the dark side of the Moon, so capcom doesn't have a clue about what would happen. For all we know, the engine may explode right now.
What would you do if you were on the dark side of the Moon, 1h14m from being the protagonist of the biggest event in the history of mankind? Go through the landing flight plan once again or check out some porn?
See, this is why I'll never be an astronaut.
Signal is lost. Seven minutes for descent orbit insertion. Mission control says all system look good.
Three minutes now for Eagle's loss of signal. And they said that things move slow in space.
Twelve minutes to Eagle's engine ignition.
Everything looks good according to capcom. Columbia going over the hill in seven minutes.
Why do we bitch about cellphone reception here on Earth? It's a miracle these guys can understand each other. Columbia has to repeat everything as they move away from the clear communications signal.
Eagle is now behind the Moon. No they are not. They are getting ready for loss of signal now.
Houston capcom says they are a few minutes from losing signal from the spacecrafts. Control is going through all the data to give a go/no go on landing.
No bald guys so far.
I wonder how Neil and Buzz are doing on board Eagle. If I were in their boots, I would be pissing my astronaut diapers at the prospect of being the first guys to set foot in land outside planet Earth.
Apparently NASA doesn't play Coldplay while waiting for the big events. Steve Jobs is not happy.
Houston Capcom and Columbia are now exchanging a lot of technical jibba jabba. Something about turning off directional rotate power #2 and asking Collins to put his pants on before the other two guys land.
1h43m from landing
Eagle has undocked from the command module. Talking about Columbia, here's a nice view of the craters Sabine and Ritter from lunar orbit. Collins is not wasting his time up there: