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Monday, 20 July 2009

Moon Landing: T Minus 0 Days - The Eagle Has Landed

Forty years ago today, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin boarded the Lunar Module, Eagle, and undocked from the Command Service Module, Columbia. Leaving Mike Collins alone in the CSM in lunar orbit, they descended towards the Moon's surface where Eagle safely touched down in the Sea of Tranquility at 8:17pm GMT.

Wilf Hardy's illustration from Look and Learn issue 907, dated 19 May 1979, shows the Lunar Module flying separately from the CSM as it descends towards the Moon's surface while this illustration from him shows the LM the moment before touchdown.

This is the cover for the LP recording of Journey To The Moon, a factual album from Gerry Anderson's Century 21 organisation which used the cast of Fireball XL5 to tell what was to them the historical event of the first moon landing. Today it makes for an interesting listen as its writer, Alan Fennell, has to put into the past tense events that were still in the future as far as its young listeners in 1965 were concerned. This album is better known from its rerelease in the 7 inch EP format by Century 21 records as the first of their "21 Minutes Of Adventure" mini albums and it has also been remastered recently onto CD by the Gerry Anderson club Fanderson. As such it has shrunk in size as recording technology has changed in the last four decades.

The final illustration is from Rockets and Spacecraft Book 1 and shows an early concept of how the Lander would have looked on the surface. As this book was published early in the Apollo program and as with the record sleeve above, it shows the then current design of a circular hatchway for the astronauts to exit the vehicle through, which was soon changed to a more rectangular design to allow the astronauts to get their backpacks through it more easily. Interestingly, the uncredited artist does not include a ladder for the astronauts to descend to the surface on...

Americans would have us believe that Neil Armstrong stepped onto the surface of the Moon on 20 July 1969 because they saw it happen in their late evening. However British television audiences saw it happen in the early hours of Monday 21 July 1969. Since NASA operates on Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), which to all intensive purposes is Greenwich Mean Time, they also consider that the first footsteps on the Moon took place on 21 July.

Yesterday – What Could Go Wrong
Tomorrow - First Footsteps

• Coinciding with Jeremy's countdown to the 40th Anniversary of the first Moon Landing, downthetubes is publishing "Moon Landing 40th Anniversary: A Comics Celebration" - a gallery of illustrations and comic art inspired by space exploration.
Contributions are very welcome: if you don't want to join our forum and upload art but would like to join in with the celebrations, simply send your work to Please ensure images are no larger than 2MB in size and include a brief bio and web link so we can give you deserved credit.

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