Monday, July 4, 2016

Long Ago on a Moon Far, Far Away...

Happy Fourth of July!

This year July 4th happens to fall on Monday, which is my day to blog. Fun!

I love this star-spangled holiday and everything it stands for. I hope the Spacefreighters patrons in the USA are celebrating the long weekend today with BBQs, fireworks and all things Americana, and our visitors from other parts of the world are enjoying a delightfully warm summer or lovely mid-winter day.

As a Sci-Fi Romance author, July always reminds me of a very famous event from July of 1969. It was the day the human race first ventured onto the surface of another world--our Moon. To this day it was a monumental achievement for space exploration.

In honor of the Apollo 11 mission, I thought it might be fun to take a look at some of the facts surrounding the mission that not everyone may know.

Photo credit NASA
Looking Back on History
10 Things You Might Not Know About the First Moon Landing

Number 10.
The astronauts discovered the Moon has an odor, but it doesn't smell like green cheese. The smell of Moon dust is described as similar to "burnt gunpowder." Oddly enough, back on Earth, with its oxygen rich environmental, the Moon dust has no odor.

Number 9.
Photo Credit NASA

The American Flag wasn't very cooperative. The lunar surface was harder than expected and the astronauts struggled to get the base of the pole embedded deep enough in the surface that the flag wouldn't fall over--a scene they wanted to avoid broadcasting on global television. After many minutes they got the telescoping pole buried deep enough for the flag to stand upright, and took the historic photo of the salute. When the Lunar Module's ascent stage blasted off to carry the astronauts back to the Command Module, Buzz Aldrin observed the blast knocking the flag down.

Number 8.
Why was it Neil Armstrong who first stepped on the Moon? Both Aldrin and Armstrong enthusiastically lobbied NASA officials for the honor, but the deciding factor was quite simple. The design of the Lunar Module determined the order. Neil Armstrong, as mission commander, was closest to the hatch and had to exit first.

Number 7.
Buzz Aldrin got his nickname because his little sister couldn't properly pronounce "brother," instead calling him "buzzer." The nickname took and the entire family soon was calling him "Buzz." His real name was Edwin Aldrin, Jr., but he legally changed his name to Buzz in 1988.

Number 6.
The maiden name of the mother of Buzz Aldrin was Marion Moon.

Photo Credit NASA
Number 5.
Astronaut Jim Lovell, of Apollo 13 fame, was Neil Armstrong's backup.
Number 4.
The official Apollo 11 patch which was designed by astronaut Michael Collins doesn't bear the astronauts' names, as does every other mission patch. The reason is that NASA wanted the patch to represent everyone who had worked so hard to make the landing a reality and the mission a success.

Number 3.
NASA turned down Buzz Aldrin's initial application to become an astronaut. Not one to give up, he reapplied and was later included among the third group of astronauts to be accepted in 1963. (If at first you don't succeed...)

Number 2.
Astronaut Michael Collins, who remained behind in the Command Module orbiting the Moon, was the first human in history to be totally cut off from Earth and human civilization. During his 22 hours of solitude, he wrote, "I am alone, now, truly alone, and absolutely isolated from any known life. I am it." His experience inspired a song written by Ian Anderson of the band Jethro Tull for the Benefit album. The title is "For Michael Collins, Jeffrey and Me."

...and the Number 1 thing you may not have known about the Moon landing...

The mission and the lives of the two astronauts was saved by a...pen? As Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin prepared to return home, they discovered a crucial circuit breaker was broken, leaving them without a way to ignite the engines to launch. NASA's mission control tried to work out a solution, but Buzz Aldrin eventually decided to try his own fix. He forced a felt tip pen into the breaker. It worked! And that's why there are not two long-dead astronauts stranded on the surface of the Moon today. 

Have a wonderful holiday! Enjoy!

See you next week.


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