SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- At a time when so many issues dramatically divide the nation, it's almost hard to believe how much the Apollo 11 moon landing united the country and the world.
President John F. Kennedy famously announced that the U.S. would put a man on the moon, and by the end of the decade -- which JFK did not live to see -- Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. While it was a national effort, the moon mission had local links.
According to the Blue Hills Gazette, a Scotch Plains company manufactured an antenna that went to the moon on three of America’s moon landings and helped to beam back video footage. Long Island-based Grumman built the lunar module. Among the engineers who worked on the module was the father of Scotch Plains resident Elaine Magnani Coupe.
Media, libraries, museums, and others have created programming and events that have helped us to remember the events of 50 years ago. Below are Facts About The Apollo 11 Mission (Encyclopedia Britannica)
- The astronauts on the Apollo 11 spacecraft were Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins. Apollo 11 launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on July 16, 1969. Hundreds of thousands of people witnessed the launch, and an estimated 600 million people across the globe watched on TV.
- On the morning of July 20, Armstrong and Aldrin crawled from the command module, Columbia, through a tunnel to the lunar module called The Eagle. Armstrong and Aldrin piloted the module to the moon's surface and touched down on its Sea of Tranquility.
- At 4:17 p.m. (EDT), Armstrong radioed: “The Eagle has landed.” Later, at 10:56 p.m., Armstrong stepped out onto the moon's surface with the words: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” (Aldrin joined Armstrong for a moon walk 20 minutes later. They took pictures and returned with about 50 lbs. of rock and soil samples.)
- After almost one day on the Moon’s surface, the astronauts used Eagle’s ascent stage to launch it back into lunar orbit. The Eagle docked with Columbia, and the trip back to Earth began soon afterward.
- Apollo 11 splashed down in the Pacific Ocean about 900 miles southwest of Hawaii on July 24. The astronauts were quarantined for 21 days after their return.
To commemorate the monumental achievement, there has been no shortage of programming. CBS live-streamed the five hours of coverage it aired on July 20, 1969.