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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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