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The First Lunar Landing


This film clip shows our final look at Tranquility Base (Photo 33), before our departure, and the ascent was a great pleasure. It was very smooth. We were very pleased to have the engine light up. (Laughter.) It gave us an excellent view of our takeoff trajectory, and Tranquility Base as we left, and at all times through the ascent, we could pick up landmarks that assured us that we were on the proper track. There were no difficulties with the ascent and we enjoyed the ride, more than we could say.

Both guidance systems agreed very closely when we were finally inserted into orbit. I believe they were something on the order of a half a mile, or seven-tenths of a mile difference in the apogee, in the resulting orbit. Following an alignment check after insertion into orbit, we proceded with gathering radar data of relative positions between the two vehicles. The solution for the first sequence of rendezvous maneuvers was extremely close and agreed very closely with the value that the ground had given us. The surprising feature was that many of us were expecting a fairly large out-of-planeness, due to perhaps some misalignment in azimuth on the surface. We were expecting somewhere up to, maybe 20 or 30 feet per second out-of-plane velocity. We found that we didn't even have to make use of a particular out-of-plane maneuver that had been inserted between two other sequential maneuvers. In comparison with many simulator runs, we found that this was about as perfect a rendezvous as we could have asked for.

This is Eagle (Photo 34), or perhaps half an Eagle would be better since the landing gear and lower part of the descent, stage, of course, remained on the surface. This was a very happy part of the flight for me. I, for the first time, really felt that we were going to carry this thing off at this stage of the game, and it looks like, although we were far from home, we were a lot closer to it than the pure distance might indicate. Neil made the initial maneuvers to get turned around, and then again I did the final docking. The probe is the dark bundle on the top of the LM and the docking target is below it and to the left in the lighter portion of the LM. As Buzz said, the rendezvous was absolutely beautiful. They came up from below -- as if they were riding on a rail. There was absolutely no disturbance or any off-nominal events during the last part of the rendezvous. Upper right you can see the RCS QUADS, and down below the various antenna and other protuberances. This gives you some idea of the rough surface available on the Moon. (Photo 35.) Of course, the maria on the front side are smoother than this, but in general the back side of the Moon is quite rough. I have a series of slides which, in the interest of time, I'm not going to dwell on, but I just like to point out that we did take a number of pictures, I believe, from Columbia. We took probably a thousand stills and some of them show very interesting surface features, various types of unusual craters, and some of them pose many riddles which we hope the geologists will, in time, be able to answer for us. That line of craters (Photo 36), for example, is difficult to explain; or at least without an argument it is. Here is a nearer crater with the white material having come from it. (Photo 37.) And this is a picture of the solar corona. (Photo 38.) Neil, would you like to close with that?

During our flight to the Moon, we flew through the Moon shadow, in fact the Moon was eclipsing the Sun. We took the opportunity to try to take some photographs of it but our film was just not sufficiently fast to capture the event. However, this does show the brightest part of the solar corona. It extends several Moon diameters on each side. They're roughly parallel to that light, but the striking thing to us, as observers, was not the solar corona, but the Moon itself. (Photo 39.) Of course, it was dark, unilluminated by the Sun but it was illuminated by the Earth and at this relatively close range it had a decided three-dimensional effect and was undoubtedly one of the most impressive sights of the flight. As we left the Moon, after successful TEI, this is the view that we observed. The colors that you see there are quite close to being actually representative of the Moon as seen from that distance. We were sorry to see the Moon go, but we were certainly glad to see that Earth return. (Photo 40.) We took a large number of photographs on the way out and back and had our wristwatches set on Houston time. An interesting use can be made of that. If you were looking at this picture and you looked at your watch and your watch said 7:00 in the evening, then you'd know that Houston is about 7:00 in the evening and it's about an hour away from sunset. So it would be about one twenty-fourth of an Earth's circumference away from the shadow, which is just about 15 degrees there, so at anytime by looking at our wristwatch and looking down at the Earth, we knew what was underneath the clouds and it aided us in some ways in picking out what we should be seeing. We could see a large number of details on the Earth's surface, certainly all the continents and islands and details, many of which you followed perhaps in our discussions over the radio communications but it was interesting to us to find out how well we could observe weather patterns not only on the world wide scale that you see here, but in specific localities. This particular shot shows the coast of North America, the equatorial cloud layers, what we think is probably the intertropical conversion zone and cirrus clouds over the Antarctic.