How Armstrong saved Apollo 11 mission
Washington: Neil Armstrong, who died last week at the age of 82, will always be remembered as the first man to walk on the moon.
But Apollo 11 crew has other reason to remember him - his nerve-wracking moon landing.
They recalled how he saved the Apollo 11 mission with a white-knuckle landing.
The Lunar Lander with Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin aboard was still miles above the moon’s surface when Aldrin said they got the first indication something was wrong. The alarms were going off as the Lander was about to land on the moon for the first time.
“We had not memorized all the program alarms,” Aldrin admitted, according to CBS News.
At mission control in Houston, flight director Gene Kranz already was worried about a guidance error and poor communications.
“The tough decision I had to make was, did we have good enough communications to continue the decent or should we wave off,” Kranz said.
As the spacecraft came out from the dark side of the moon, Kranz said they became aware of a “peck of trouble.” It looked as if the landing was going off course and might have to be aborted.
“‘Abort’ is not a word you use casually in mission control, and boy everybody picked up at that time. We knew we were in for a battle,” Kranz recalled.
Kranz remembered watching Armstrong maneuvering to find a suitable landing spot.
“Our job is just to keep them aware of how many seconds of fuel remaining they have,” he stated.
But, Armstrong’s detour was using up fuel.
“I was getting a little concerned,” Aldrin said.
Alrdrin heard Krantz saying that the spacecraft only had 60 seconds of fuel with 100 feet to touchdown.
“I didn’t want to interrupt Neil’s concentration,” he recalled.
Seventeen seconds before fuel ran out, Armstrong came on the radio.
“Tranquility base here. The Eagle has landed,” he stated.
Aldrin remembered the two men looked at each other, and he patted Armstrong on the shoulder.
“This was exciting. It was risky, but it was typical America. You know this is ‘what Americans can dare, Americans can do,” Krantz said.