As we celebrate 52 years since the first Moon landing, I thought it would be a good idea to present today some fun facts about the Moon landings. 

On July 20th, 1969, the Apollo 11 astronauts walked on the Moon. I’m talking about Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins, although Collins didn’t actually walk on the Moon, as he remained in the command module Columbia. The mission started on July 16th, and the astronauts splashed successfully into the ocean on July 24th, after 8 days in space. That’s a fine holiday! I’d happily go to the Moon and back on my next leave from work.

Close call

One of the interesting things about the Apollo 11 Moon landing is that Neil Armstrong had to improvise on this part of the mission: while in the Eagle module, he realized that they had a minimal amount of propellant left, so he took control of the module by manually steering it to a patch of land he saw and thought could be a good spot. But, of course, things never go as planned, and he then realized that the spot actually had a crater in it, so he immediately steered the module to another spot. 

Moon Landing Facts
An image of the Moon about 700km from the Apollo 11 landing site, captured by the ESO VLT 8.2-m YEPUN telescope at the Paranal Observatory. Credit: ESO.

The most extraordinary thing, though, is that they had less than 60 seconds left of fuel by the time they reached the ground. While everyone on Earth was worried about that, Neil somehow seemed not to be bothered at all by the fact; he explains that he felt that even if the engines would shut down, nothing bad could happen as they were close to the ground. 

“Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”

First man?

Technically speaking, Buzz Aldrin should have been the one to make the first step on the Moon because of the rule that the lower-ranked members should go first, and in this case, the commander, Armstrong, should have stayed on board in case of emergency. However, Aldrin said that Neil Armstrong was chosen for this with symbolic value. Therefore, one would have expected that the commander should make this big step and take responsibility for it. However, NASA said in a statement that Armstrong went first because the module was designed, so that it made it complicated for Aldrin to go first.

52 Years of the First Moon Landing: Amusing Facts About The Historic Moment. 2

Activists were there at the launch

Activists were a thing back in the 60s, and because of that, the Government didn’t really want to mess with them. Just a few days before the launch, a bunch of activists led by Ralph Abernathy showed up at the Kennedy Space Center, unhappy with the general costs of the Apollo program. Thomas Paine, the NASA administrator, spoke to the protesters face-to-face, saying that he hoped Ralph Abernathy would “hitch his wagons to our rocket, using the space program as a spur to the nation to tackle problems boldly in other areas, and using NASA’s space successes as a yardstick by which progress in other areas should be measured.”

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The activists then received VIP spots for the launch, and Abernathy was reportedly just as happy as everybody else about the achievement. While not really agreeing with the money needed, he acknowledged the fantastic success. 

They were not the only ones unhappy with the Apollo project, as a conducted poll showed that only 39% of the Americans supported this, while 41% favored cutting the funding to the space program. 

Moon dirt actually smells

52 Years of the First Moon Landing: Amusing Facts About The Historic Moment. 3

Another interesting thing is that after the astronauts returned to the module and got rid of their helmets, they realized that the dirt they had on their suits smelled funny! It actually has an odor and not only that, but it is also sticky and clingy, so it was rather hard to get rid of it. Unfortunately, the people on Earth never got to experience that smell, as immediately after the bags with soil were opened on Earth, it lost all its smell. 

Astronauts said it had a “burned smell like wet fireplace ashes, or like the air after a fireworks show.”

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