Apollo 11 landing

In the final minutes of the Apollo 11 LM’s descent to the surface, Armstrong noticed that the intended landing site was too rocky and took manual control of the descent in order to find a better spot. The LM had never been flown in this manner, and Armstrong didn’t have time to discuss it with mission control.

We’ve all heard recordings of those final minutes of the LM descent. But we’ve never seen exactly what Armstrong saw until now. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter team has reconstructed Armstrong’s view of the surface in those final minutes.

Pairing the audio recording with this footage is edge-of-the-seat exciting, as you imagine Armstrong coolly working the LM down while the voices at mission control have no idea of this extra drama under way at the time.

Apollo 8 liftoff

Apollo 8 lifted off fifty years ago today, taking humans to orbit the Moon for the first time. This was also the first time a Saturn V carried humans. Originally scheduled as a test flight for orbital reentry, Russian successes prompted a revision of plans and 16 weeks later Apollo 8 lifted off to carry Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and William Anders around the Moon.


Here’s a wonderful story about Alan Bean.

“Every color in Alan’s heart was there on the Moon, in its craters and rocks and hills, because a human was walking in that world — an artist — and wherever humans go there is color. All the color.”

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Gemini interior

Here’s a video from 1965 on the state of the art in manned spaceflight. Jump to 4:04 for a tour through the interior of a Gemini capsule.