Apollo 11 Mission Commander Neil Armstrong and Lunar Module Pilot Buzz Aldrin are now on course to the surface of the Moon, after undocking from Columbia. I'm certainly not the great Walter Cronkite, but I'm liveblogging the historic event here.
[Events shown in reverse chronological order. Timestamps indicate expected time for landing]
24m Guidance says we are go for landing. All data is ok. We are off to a good start. Mission controller "keeping it cool".
25m Sound is great now. Neil is giving data on residuals.
26m Lots of noise now. Houston is asking Columbia about LEM status, as they have lost signal right now. Switching to the big antenna.
27m LEM signal acquisition. Waiting for Neil to say something. You Apollo 11 commander you!
28m "Columbia reading loud and clear!" Capcom is asking how everything went. Collins says THE EAGLE IS OK! He says everything went on beautifully: "Babe, everything's going just swimmingly. Beautiful".
29m We have acquisition of signal from the Command Module. Capcom is trying to communicate with Columbia right now.
31m One minute and 31 seconds from Command Module signal acquisition. 2 minutes from LEM signal acquisition. Houston control is getting ready for final descent.
35m Trusted sources inside the White House are telling us that President Nixon is walking nervously up and down the Oval Office, mumbling something about "that damn Kennedy." He has two speeches on this desk. One is only to be read in case of disaster:
"Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace. These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope for their recovery. But they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice.
"These two men are laying down their lives in mankind's most noble goal: the search for truth and understanding. They will be mourned by their families and friends; they will be mourned by their nation; they will be mourned by the people of the world; they will be mourned by a Mother Earth that dared send two of her sons into the unknown.
"In their exploration, they stirred the people of the world to feel as one; in their sacrifice, they bind more tightly the brotherhood of man. In ancient days, men looked at stars and saw their heroes in the constellations. In modern times, we do much the same, but our heroes are epic men of flesh and blood.
"Others will follow, and surely find their way home. Man's search will not be denied. But these men were the first, and they will remain the foremost in our hearts.
"For every human being who looks up at the moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind."
38m Nothing yet from Columbia or Eagle.
44m Hey, check out Buzz Aldrin in the LEM. He's happy.
49m Capcom is babbling again about how many people are in the control room, watching the operation. Apparently, they babble a lot in Florida. John Glenn is there, by the way. So is Alan Shepard, who later landed on the Moon with Apollo 14. Pit Conrad—commander or Apollo 12—and Jim Lowell—commander of Apollo XIII—are there too.
50m Did you know that one million people gathered in Florida to see the launch of the Apollo 11 mission? Neither did I. An estimated 500 million people watched the landing live.
54m Did I say you can listen to all this live at We Choose the Moon?
55m This is when Phil Schiller makes a joke about how everything worked fine at rehearsal. No signal re-acquisition yet.
59m Less than one hour from landing and nothing from Columbia or Eagle yet. Are these guys partying with Pink Floyd up there or what?
1h02m Static noise getting stronger. I guess they will reappear any time now. I'm sure the engine should be ok. Unless the Nazis shot them now. I'm sure people at capcom keep looking at their watches nervously.
1h04m Time for some chocolate as we wait for the signal to come back. I'm actually getting nervous here.
1h06m Columbia will come first inline. Hopefully LEM will also reappear in one piece.
1h07m The ignition should be over now. We are two minutes from LEM signal acquisition.
1h09m One minute from the LEM ignition for descent orbit insertion. This is happening on the dark side of the Moon, so capcom doesn't have a clue about what would happen. For all we know, the engine may explode right now.
1h14m Why would you do if you were on the dark side of the Moon, 1h14m from being the protagonist of the biggest event in the history of mankind? Go through the landing flight plan once again or check out some porn?
See, this is why I'll never be an astronaut.
1h15m Signal is lost. Seven minutes for descent orbit insertion. Mission control says all system look good.
1h19m Three minutes now for Eagle's loss of signal. And they said that things move slow in space.
1h20m Twelve minutes to Eagle's engine ignition.
1h23m Everything looks good according to capcom. Columbia going over the hill in seven minutes.
1h25m Why do we bitch about mobile phone reception here on Earth? It's a miracle these guys can understand each other. Columbia has to repeat everything as they move away from the clear communications signal.
1h29m Eagle is now behind the Moon. No they are not. They are getting ready for loss of signal now.
1h30m Houston capcom says they are a few minutes from losing signal from the spacecrafts. Control is going through all the data to give a go/no go on landing.
1h32m No bald guys so far.
1h35m I wonder how Neil and Buzz are doing on board Eagle. If I were in their boots, I would be pissing my astronaut diapers at the prospect of being the first guys to set foot in land outside planet Earth.
1h39m Apparently NASA doesn't play Coldplay while waiting for the big events. Steve Jobs is not happy.
1h41m Houston Capcom and Columbia are now exchanging a lot of technical jibba jabba. Something about turning off directional rotate power #2 and asking Collins to put his pants on before the other two guys land.
1h43m from landing Eagle has undocked from the command module. Talking about Columbia, here's a nice view of the craters Sabine and Ritter from lunar orbit. Collins is not wasting his time up there: