Apollo 11 Memories

Today is July 16, the 33rd anniversary of the launch of Apollo 11. My memories of that and the Moon landing have faded a bit, but I would like to share those that are left with you:

An eager 14 year old crawling out of bed in the predawn to watch Armstrong, Aldrin And Collins suit up and climb into their van for the ride out to the pad…

The TV commercials (sorry, I can’t remember the products) that had some kind of space tie-in;

That launch (which I will NEVER forget) which was televised as a distant shot, not the series of closeups of various parts of the Saturn V which is ALWAYS shown today as Apollo 11’s launch;

Chanting “go, go, go” as that white needle rose on a pillar of fire and rumbled into the sky;

The spray of fire that erupted when the Saturn dropped its first stage and ignited its second;

Watching the astronauts point the tv camera out the window of Columbia and showing the Earth receding into the distance;

Arguing with my Father about the worthiness of “Spending all of that money to go to the Moon”…

Excuse me; I’ll be back later after I’ve dredged up more memories. In the meantime, please feel free to add your own.

I was just a little tot. It’s the first thing that I remember watching on TV.


I was on vacation with my family in the Black Hills; we were camping so I had no access to television. Since I was the only one in the family with any interest in the space program all I was able to do was catch the occasional news story on the car radio. :frowning:
When they commemorated the (IIRC) 25th anniversary by rebroadcasting all the tv coverage of the landing I taped every minute of it. Deferred memories are better than none, I guess.

I was 5. I don’t remember much other than seeing it on television, though I was immersed in the lunarmania that followed. We drank Tang, we played with Major Matt Mason, we watched UFO on TV. Then someone brought home a commemorative book called We Came In Peace (published by Gulf Oil and given away as a premium at gas stations) that was one of the most influential books I’ve ever read – it contained a history of the US space program from Explorer 1 through Apollo and listed the specifications and details of every US launch vehicle to that time.

I fell in love with the Saturn V, an infatuation I’ve never outgrown. It was, and still is, the only spacecraft powerful enough to carry human beings to another world. I didn’t know that Apollo 17 would be the last moon landing or that Skylab would be the last launch of a Saturn V or that in 25 years our capabilities would atrophy to the point that we’re barely capable of constructing a space station, let alone colonizing the moon.

But the future was fantastic to those of us old enough to remember it.

I too was 14 and didn’t want to miss a minute of any coverage. As I posted in another thread I was so keyed up when Armstrong walked on the moon that my mind could not interpret what my eyes were seeing. I wrote an account of this for our paper in 1999, when the paper did a story a day about our memories of the century.

If I could get a ride up I would give everything I own except for my cats(as long as I stood a fifty-fifty chance of getting back) That’s how bad I want it.

The moon walk was literally the first thing I might have ever seen on television, ever… I was born that day!

(Which means you all owe me birthday cards by Saturday! Hurry, now! Only two shopping days left!)

eight years old then and enthralled by it all. While watching the landing I kept running outside to look up as if I would see something.

I’ll never forget The Onion headline:


But seriously folks, I was long since not born back then, but my mom did turn twenty the day they landed. She didn’t receive much in the way of birthday greetings, what with everyone gathered around the television and whatnot.

I was a small boy, & my parents let me stay home from school to watch the landing.

I was ADD, but I was able to sit through that, by Ghod!


More memories.

KoalaBear, Baker, I know how you feel. Others may think that the Moon is uninteresting, that they’d rather go to Mars, but I grew up seeing men trying to go to the Moon; and I wanted to go with them. My heart is on that orb, and it is MINE.

Those three days leading up to the 20th, I was glued to the TV; I devoured newspapers; I scanned the radio dial waiting for a scrap of news of Apollo.
Sunday, July 20th. Jules Bergman. Walter Cronkite. I flipped back and forth between the networks, but when Eagle landed, I was watching good old Walt.

I had a Revell Apollo model kit and I wore that thing out re-enacting rendezvous, docking, descent, landing, over and over again.

Ahhh, the Moonwalk. Each network had either animations or actors simulating Armstrong’s descent down the ladder until Neil’s ghostly image filled the screen, and then was superimposed with the words LIVE FROM THE MOON…wow.

I watched the whole two hour walk, the astronauts bounding across the airless plain, me getting tired and sleepy, but I
stayed with them till the end; and when they went back up the ladder, I finally went to bed, ending the happiest day of my young life.

Excuse me. I’m gonna go watch my tapes of “From The Earth To The Moon” for the third time.

I remember it well…I got into big trouble THAT day. The moon landing was telecast on Aussie TV in the late morning, and all the kids at Ocean Grove P.S. were informed that if their parents had allowed them to go home, they could nick off and watch the landing at home.

Well, I had NOT been given permission, but the only telly in the school was at the very end of a VERY long corridor,and all of us ‘senior’ kids (Gr. 5) had to sit at the VERY END of the VERY LONG corridor, so we had no effing chance of seeing the landing except through binoculars
So, never being one to hold THAT closely to the letter of the law, I told the teachers that my mum said I could go home to my own TV to watch the most important event in modern history.
Mum came home. The teachers were called. I ended up in deep shit.

But I got to see the landing, and golly, it was impressive, even on the old b & w telly we had back then.

That day, and by extension the entire early space program, holds a dear and important place in my heart.

My father was the Science Editor of , as they say in Superman, a “large metropolitan newspaper”. He was gone frequently throughout my youth, covering the last half of Mercury, all of Gemini and Apollo through 1974, when he stopped doing that for a living.

My brother and I would pore over hundreds of Press Release Photos ( most of which were never published anywhere ). We would play with early and incredibly detailed give-away models of the LEM. We would sit and listen to recordings of transmissions. We LIVED this thing.

Dad went to Alaska to cover the training of the first Apollo crew that was to use the Lunar Rover. There were lava fields there that closely approximated the lunar surface. To say we were deeply involved in following this stuff would be a huge understatement.

That night- and it happened very late at night, Eastern Standard Time- Mom let us stay up, needless to say. This was History. Dad was in Houston as he was for all the Space Shots, covering it at the Press Building at NASA’s Houston Control Center. I watched, and watched, stunned. Then, with barely a few moments to spare, I fell asleep…

…just as the Eagle landed on the moon. I heard those famous words, “The Eagle Has Landed”, but I missed the live first step. Oh man, apparently my older brother and Mom struggled to get me to wake up, but to no avail. I awoke ( figures… ) a while later, and so watched it on re-play. MAN I was heartbroken. Nevertheless, I know the address of the house we were in, what the t.v. looked like ( It was a home-made cabinet ), and many other visual details of that night. I remember crying about it, and asking to talk to Daddy.

Every time I see a film clip of a Saturn V launching, I get wet eyes. To me, the footage of Apollo spacecrafts taking off defines my childhood, for better or worse, and so that entire part of American history is near and dear to my heart.

I was the only kid in school who brought in 4 foot square 3-d Topographical Maps made of semi-rigid plastic of the surface of the Moon, depicting landing sites of Apollo craft. I brought one in to the Planetarium at my High School ( yes, we had one ) and the Planetarium teacher about keeled over.

I miss those days.


kambukta, your story brings up another, more amusing memory. I was in my Freshman year of college, doing a stint at a local Penn State University campus. I was in what passed for Film Studies class. I knew that the first Space Shuttle Landing was scheduled for the time during which our Final Exam was to take place.

It was something like a 3 hour class, so that there was always time to screen an entire film. The Final wouldn’t nearly take that amount of time. We got most of the class to agree that the Landing was important enough to start the Final late. The instructor was an officious little man, meanspirited and stubborn.

We went and turned on the t.v. and found the moment, with about 10 minutes to spare. Despite his cynicism, once the set was on and he got an eyeful of the Shuttle with the chase planes , he sat down and let us watch it.

That has got to be the longest runway around. From This site comes the following:

Damn… :slight_smile:

(Sorry - this gets a little long)

I’m a space kid. I was born 9 days after Alan Shepard’s 15 minute flight and 11 days before JFK made his famous speach before congress that said “I belive this nation should commit itself, before this decade is out, to landing a mand on the moon and returning him safely to earth…”

I was too young really to know what was going on when Grissom, Chaffee and White died in Apollo 1 (AS-204) and I really only know the Mercury and Gemini programs through vague recollections and saved newspaper headlines.

Anyway, I had been fascinated by the space program all through my childhood - My dad would always bring home big envelopes of 8x10 color pictures from NASA that he’d pick up at the government bookstore in NYC on his way home from a trip. I had those pictures plastered up everywhere.

I was 8 at the time of the Apollo 11 liftoff. We always spent the summers at the pond in Maine when I was a kid, so TV was a little snowy and I don’t think any of my relatives had color sets at that time - no wait, my grandmother did.

When any moonshot launched, I would make a construction paper map of the earth and the moon and draw a big “figure 8” around the planets like you’d see when Walter Cronkite was telling us where the spacecraft was. I’d make little cutouts of the CSM and LM and use Scotch tape to stick them to the map and update their locations whenever Walter gave an update.

We all watched the Apollo 11 launch at my grandmother’s city house on the big TV. It was amazing, but I spent so much time watching the other launches before 11, that it was kind of “just one more” for me - even though I always got excited about them. (The launch I remember the best was Apollo 17 - it was the only Apollo night launch and I got to stay up late to watch it …)

We listened to the landing on the radio on July 20th. We were at my Grandmother’s cottage on that day and we were too busy with swimming and cook-outs and stuff to pay any attention to the TV - besides, what was there to watch - it’s not like there was live video of the landing or anything. When they announced that the EVA would be early, we all rushed through supper and got the dishes out of the way so we could sit down and try to watch Armstrong’s first step on a 12" B&W TV with rabbit ears and really bad reception. It was OK though - we witnessed history live, it didn’t matter that it wasn’t crystal clear - mostly, I was riveted by the words, the commands, the NASA chatter, the procedure of it all. This thing was tailor made for a kid who dreamed of being a pilot or astronaut - you could just imagine yourself giving or answering those commands. “Roger CAPCOM, understand we’re GO for powered descent…”

I continued watching launches and landings all the way through Apollo-Soyuz and Sky-Lab. I watched with the rest of the world when Sky-Lab plummeted into Australia too.
When I was in my late-teens, our family took a trip to Florida. We went to Disney World and to the Kennedy Space Center. This was 1978 IIRC, so we were in the lull between Apollo and Shuttle. The Space Center seemed like a ghost town to me. You even got to take part of the tour INSIDE the VAB (Vehicle Assembly Building) at that time - you can never do that now, since there’s always a shuttle and / or solid rockets inside. Part of the tour was complex 34 from where so many of the early missions launched. Even then, the laucnh pads had been stripped and grass was growing up through cracks in the concrete.

For me, this tour was almost a heartbreaker. This bore no resemblance to the glory days that I had celebrated as a younger kid. I remember almost having to choke back tears as a 17 year old who felt very sad about the demise of a once proud space program.

I continue to this day to be an authentic space-geek. I now cannot go to Florida without spending at least a day at KSC. I can’t pass through Texas without stopping in Houston as JSC. I can’t get anywhere near Kanasas without stopping in to the Cosmosphere.

But on that summer day 33 years ago, I sat with my cousins and other family members in a wet bathing suit and towel and watched the most amazing thing the world had yet seen - a human being stepping on the moon. I’ll never forget it.