Fifty years ago, Apollo 11 flew to the moon
It was 50 years ago to the day: July 16, 1969, the three American astronauts of the Apollo 11 mission, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, took off for the Moon from Florida, they who went to mark history and to change humanity’s view of its place in the universe.
“We, the crew, felt the weight of the whole world on our shoulders, we knew we would be watched by everyone, friends and enemies,” 88-year-old Michael Collins said on the legendary 39A launch of the center Kennedy Space to launch the festivities.
The pilot of the control module was invited by NASA, which organizes a series of events throughout the week to revive this historic round trip.
The crew took four days to reach the moon. The lunar module, Eagle, with Armstrong and Aldrin on board, landed July 20, 1969 at 8:17 pm GMT, and Armstrong came out a few hours later, setting foot on the moon at 02:56 GMT July 21, 1969 – late to the States United States, and in the middle of the night for Europe.
Michael Collins was alone in lunar orbit in the main capsule, Columbia, the only means of transport to return to Earth.
“I was always asked if I was not the loneliest person in the solar system when I was alone in orbit,” he said on Tuesday. “And the answer is no, I felt good!”
Coffee and music
“I was very happy to be where I was and to see this mission very difficult to complete,” he added. “I was savoring a good coffee, and I had music if I wanted (…). I really enjoyed all this time alone.
NASA offered him to be the commander of the Apollo 17 mission in 1972, but he refused, so as not to spend three more years away from his family, he explained.
Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, is becoming rarer, but he participated in a few events, such as a gala last Saturday in California where the cheapest ticket cost 1000 dollars.
While he was to participate in the celebrations, he finally did not appear on Tuesday, without any explanation being given.
The 89-year-old man, active on Twitter and still eccentric with his socks in the colors of the American flag, experienced health and family concerns, culminating in a court dispute with his children over his finances, which was settled by a truce last March.
Commander Armstrong died in 2012. Only four of the 12 men on the lunar surface are still alive.
“I always imagine a flight to the moon as a long chain of fragile events,” said Michael Collins on Tuesday, detailing how the mission was divided into several small goals, such as slowing down to enter the lunar orbit.