Fifty years ago, NASA made history by launching the first-ever manned moon mission - Apollo 11 – on July 16. It landed on the lunar surface on July 21. To celebrate this giant scientific leap of mankind, Google released a five-minute-long commemorative doodle on July 19.
The animated doodle tracks the journey of the mission, the excitement, fanfare, and anxiety that the astronauts experienced when they were blasted off into space, and much more.
The mission had a whopping 400,000 people working on it. This included Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin – the duo that was packed off into uncharted territory on NASA's Saturn V rocket from Florida's Kennedy Space Center.
Michael Collins, the third astronaut – the command module pilot of Apollo 11 - gives a first-hand account of the key moments of the journey in the animated video, starting from the time the rocket took off to the landing on the lunar surface and back.
Three days after the launch and more than 2,40,000 miles later, Collins was finally able to park the command module 60 miles above the Moon’s orbit. The two astronauts on board the spacecraft could descend only the next day.
The journey was definitely not smooth. The lunar module named Eagle took 13 minutes to descend and that landing was fraught with risks. Two of these risks could have proved disastrous as they were short of fuel and had also lost radio contact with Earth. However, all impediments were overcome, and any mishap was averted.
Eventually, Armstrong and Aldrin successfully steered Eagle to Moon’s crater – "Sea of Tranquility" –and famously said: “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”
What followed next charted history. Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the moon, immortalising the words: “That's one small step for
man, one giant leap for mankind.”
The trio returned to Earth on July 25, 1969, with multiple breakthroughs observations but the Apollo program continued. Ten more astronauts were sent to the Moon later, and the mission finally ended in 1972.