Fifty Years Ago Today, the United States – and Three Men – Completed Maybe the Greatest Scientific and Logistical Achievement to Date

IBM – A Longtime and Highly-Valued Willwork Global Event Services Client – Played an Essential, Integral, and Broad-Ranging Role in Putting Men on the Moon and Bringing Them Back Safely

Events and Exhibitions are Taking Place Across America to Celebrate and Honor the Epic Voyage of Apollo 11

Face of Plaque That U.S. Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin Set on the Moon on July 20, 1969 (Image credit: NASA)

“We choose to go to the Moon! We choose to go to the Moon…We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, and the others, too.”

PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY, speaking at Rice Stadium on September 12, 1962

Willwork Global Event Services – founded in 1987 – is a leading multinational exhibition services and event project management company.

Among those companies and organizations that are our valued clients, and for which it is our privilege to service, are among the world’s largest and most successful corporations, and also small enterprises with only a few employees that you may not have heard of … but you will, soon enough.

On our blog it is our custom to herald and tout extraordinary achievement in our own industry, and also in sectors and activity closely aligned, and which hold a kinship with, our business – for example, construction, engineering, computer science, logistics, and industrial design.

If you click here you will be transported to our Memorial Day 2017 post that featured an astounding and epic execution of logistics that helped launch our nation.

On this blog we also like to talk about exhibitions and events, whether made and produced by humans, or nature and the cosmos … or a combination of these entities.

Willwork has surely used this place to celebrate and point to the most impressive shows and events – those that are celestial and galactic, and are performed in the skies above us.

Please click here to be taken to post we published, on July 27 of last year, about the longest total lunar eclipse of the 21st Century, one which brought with it a “blood moon,” and which played out across most of the planet in the evening sky of July 27-28.

Back on June 20, we published here a post about the June solstice, the annual mega event that our solar system holds, and which marks for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere of Planet Earth, the longest day of the year and the commencement of summer.  In the post, we only discussed solstices on this planet.  Yet the other planets in our solar system also have solstices … and seasons and equinoxes

We will stay here with discussions of the Moon and Earth, and cosmos … as we most certainly should – for 50 years ago this month the United States of America pulled off just maybe the greatest scientific and engineering feat in the history of humanity, fulfilling the first component of a goal that President John F. Kennedy had set for the nation in 1961: to within a decade be the first country to safely land humans on the Moon.

And … for sure … there was a second component of the mission: to safely return the humans to earth.

Successfully completing the roundtrip would amount to an even greater scientific and engineering achievement. 

To meet President Kennedy’s challenge the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) founded and operated the Apollo Program.

Of course, when President Kennedy tasked America with beating out all nations to be the first to make it to the Moon and back, he … and the country he led … only had one competitor in mind: the Soviet Union.

IBM and Journeying to the Moon and Returning Home

America won the race. 

Winning the race for the country were brilliance, courage, daring, focus, and a workforce of 400,000 that, as explained in a July 16, 2019 Associated Press story, written by Marcia Dunn, “stretched across the U.S. and included engineers, scientists, mechanics, technicians, pilots, divers, seamstresses, secretaries and more who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to achieve those first lunar footsteps .”

It is easily imaginable, and the concept is solidly credible, that without the technology and computing power of longtime and highly-valued Willwork Global Event Services client IBM, the U.S. maybe have been the runner-up in the space challenge.

Following is an excerpt from an IBM online collection of stories and photos about the company’s contribution to Apollo 11 and the broader Apollo program:

“Some four thousand IBMers were involved in the Apollo program: pioneering the technologies; building the computers; writing the software programs that launched the missions and guided them safely back to Earth, and inventing the miniaturized circuity that converted a mainframe the size of a refrigerator into something the size of a suitcase.”

Clicking here takes you to that story and photo collection.

Indeed, as NASA flight director Gene Kranz declared: “Without IBM and the systems they provided, we would not have made it to the Moon.”


With a model of the Apollo 11 lunar module in the background, IBM Houston programmers – Susan Wright (left), Mitch Secondo (rear), and David Proctor – surveys equations they have programmed into NASA computers (Image credit: IBM)










Triumph of a Nation

Ultimately, and for sure, Apollo 11 was a national effort.

It was a national effort the final stretch of which took place across eight days in July of 1969.

To the Moon – July 16, 2019

(Note: all times in this post are expressed in Eastern Standard Time.)

Fueled and powered by a Saturn V rocket, the Apollo 11 spacecraft launched from the coast of Florida at 9:32 a.m. on July 16, 1969. Aboard Apollo 11 were astronauts Neil Armstrong, who was the mission commander, and Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins.  The Apollo 11 spacecraft was composed of two sections: the command and service module Columbia and the lunar module Eagle.

It took a little more than three days (76 hours precisely) for Apollo 11 to travel 240,000 miles and enter the orbit of the Moon on July 19. 

The Landing – July 20, 1969

Here is a description – excerpt from the History article, “1969 Moon Landing,” – of the events of July 20:

“ … at 1:46 p.m., the lunar module Eagle, manned by Armstrong and Aldrin, separated from the command module, where Collins remained. Two hours later, the Eagle began its descent to the lunar surface, and at 4:17 p.m. the craft touched down on the southwestern edge of the Sea of Tranquility. Armstrong immediately radioed to Mission Control in Houston, Texas, a now-famous message: ‘The Eagle has landed.'”

At 10:39 p.m., five hours ahead of the original schedule, Mr. Armstrong opened the hatch of the lunar module. As he made his way down the module’s ladder, a television camera attached to the craft recorded his progress and beamed the signal back to Earth, where hundreds of millions watched in great anticipation.

At 10:56 p.m., as Mr. Armstrong stepped off the ladder and planted his foot on the Moon’s powdery surface, he spoke his famous quote, which he later contended was slightly garbled by his microphone and meant to be “that’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Mr. Aldrin joined Mr. Armstrong on the ground of the Moon 19 minutes later, and together they took photographs, planted a U.S. flag, ran a few simple scientific tests, and spoke with President Richard Nixon (1913-94) via NASA’s Houston command center.

Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin also set on the Moon a plaque bearing an inscription. We have provided, above, a photo of the plaque and the inscription.

It is estimated that about 20 percent of the world’s population watched the Moon landing and the astronauts walking across its dusty and gray terrain.

Back in the Eagle, and Rejoining Columbia – July 21, 2019

On July 21, at 1:11 a.m., after speaking with the President, taking the photos, conducting the tests, and placing the plaque, the two astronauts, now inside Eagle, closed the hatch of the lunar module.  They slept that night on the Moon.

At 1:54 in the afternoon on July 21, Eagle commenced its ascent to rendezvous with Michael Collins and the command module Columbia.  The lunar module and the command module successfully docked at 5:53 p.m.

Coming Home – July 22, 2019

AT 12:56 a.m. on July 22, Apollo 11 started for home.

Not well known and not widely reported was the high level of danger and considerable risk involved for Apollo 11 in returning to earth.  In fact, on the return trip disaster nearly befell the astronauts.

Please click here to be transported to a Forbes magazine story, “Everyone Missed An Apollo 11 Mistake, And It Almost Killed The Astronauts Returning To Earth,” written by Ethan Siegel that was published July 19.  

Splashdown and Mission Complete – July 24, 2019

Tragedy was averted.

Apollo 11 splashed down in the Pacific Ocean at 12:50 p.m. on July 24.

When the command module landed in the ocean, next up was the matter of safe retrieval of the astronauts, which the United States Navy aircraft carrier USS Hornet and its crew members performed flawlessly.

The Apollo 11 Exhibition – Traveling and Permanent Exhibition

Willwork Global Event Services has to include here the exhibition angle of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. 

On October 14, 2017, at Space Center Houston, opened was Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission, a 50th anniversary traveling exhibition curated and administered by the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in partnership with Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service.

Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission includes runs through late winter 2020. A permanent exhibition will follow that will be located at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. and which opens in 2022.

The star attraction of Destination Moon is the original command module Columbia, making its first tour since 1971.  Playing a supporting role in the exhibit are 20 artifacts from the Apollo 11 mission.

Apollo 11 command module Columbia (Image credit: NASA)

Destination Moon was held at Space Center Houston until March 18, 2019.  It was then on to the Saint Louis Science Center (April 14–Sept. 3, 2018), Senator John Heinz History Center, Pittsburgh (Sept. 29, 2018–Feb. 17, 2019), and The Museum of Flight, Seattle, a showing that began on April 13 and lasts until September 2.

Original plans for the Destination Moon had The Museum of Flight, Seattle as the final stop on the tour.  Yet last month, in response to enthusiasm and interest in the exhibit, a fifth and final leg was added: Cincinnati Museum Center, from September 18, 2019 through February 17, 20120.

More Events and Exhibitions Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11

NASA has compiled a list of exhibitions and events held, being held, and to-be-held across the nation to celebrate and remember Apollo 11.  Many of the events are continuing their run into early fall, and some into December.

Please click here to be taken to the list.

Still the Only Country

The United States remains the only nation to put people on the Moon.

Twelve astronauts have landed and walked on the Moon. All those astronauts made it safely home.

The most recent U.S. trip to the Moon, which was also the last time an American spacecraft traveled in lunar orbit, was the Apollo 17 mission of December 1972.

Astronauts on the Apollo 17 mission were Gene Cernan, Harrison “Jack” Schmitt  and Ronald Evans.

Messrs. Cernan and Smith landed on the Moon, and stayed for three days, during which they took “moon walks” and conducted experiments.

Mr. Evans stayed in the command module and orbited the Moon.

Just think – it has now been almost 47 years since that trip.

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