Celebrating 50 years since astronauts first set foot on the Moon at 3:56am GMT on July 21, 1969, David Baker, author of Apollo 11: 50th Anniversary of the First Man on the Moon, outlines five amazing facts about the Apollo 11 landing.

  1. The Apollo spacecraft had super-cold fuel tanks so well insulated that it would take ice cubes placed inside eight and a half years to melt. The propellants were liquid hydrogen (which boils at -423ºF) and liquid oxygen (which boils at -297ºF) which were the fuel and oxidiser for the high-energy rocket motors. Had they been stored as gases they would have required tanks 27 times as big!
  1. Only 12ft (4m) tall, the Apollo spacecraft where the crew lived contained 15 miles of electrical wiring, enough for 50 two-bedroom homes. Electrical wiring powered the spacecraft and there were so many systems and pieces of equipment that it required so much wiring.
  1. The Saturn V that launched astronauts to the Moon contained enough fuel to power the average car 200 times around the world. Propellant accounted for more than 90% of the 2900 tonnes at launch just to get the spacecraft off the ground and to the Moon, departing Earth orbit at 25,000mph.
  1. The power of the first Saturn V Moon rocket was capable of lifting into orbit all the manned spacecraft previously sent into space. Saturn V had a payload to Earth orbit of 120 tons while all 16 previous US manned spacecraft had a combined weight of approximately 95 tons.
  1. With 2.5 million solder joints on the Saturn V rocket, if just 1/32nd of an inch too much solder was left on each one the excess would weigh more than the rocket’s payload of 45 tonnes – the total weight of Apollo and the Lunar Module. Weight reduction was vital for Apollo and great attention was paid to that; NASA even looked at using a rope ladder to get to the surface instead of an aluminium ladder!

For more information about the iconic Apollo 11 mission, order your copy of Apollo 11: 50th Anniversary of the First Man on the Moon for just £6.99 at classicmagazines.co.uk