Gotta Watch: How we got to the moon
Apollo 11's lunar module, the Eagle, ascends.
November 16th, 2011
11:06 AM ET

Gotta Watch: How we got to the moon

The first moon landing was one of the nation’s most historic must-see events. An estimated 600 million people around the world tuned in to see Apollo 11 touch down on the moon. Today, the astronauts who flew to the moon are making a rare joint appearance to receive the Congressional Gold Medal, along with former senator and astronaut John Glenn. You’ve no doubt seen the moon landing footage. Now go behind the scenes and learn more about what it took to get Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins to the moon.

Cutting edge – The computer on the lunar module had 36kb of memory—that’s less than a calculator holds now. Check out the giant technological leaps we’ve made since that historic trip.

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Spacesuit seamstresses – The complex spacesuits that the astronauts wore made the difference between life and death for the Apollo 11 crew. See the initial drawings of the suits and meet the women who sewed them. You can also read more about this story here.

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An astronaut’s life – LIFE photographer Ralph Morse shares rare photos of the astronauts and their families in the 1960s before the famous Apollo 11 mission. See the unusual family portrait he took at three minutes into the video.

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Filed under: Gotta Watch • NASA • Shuttle • Space
soundoff (178 Responses)
  1. Curious

    I am not saying we did not go to the moon or that we did....but lets just say for arguement sake, we did......why not go there again with 1000X better technology? What you mean to tell me the inquisitive, human being, didn't want to do that or does not want to do that again? Sort of like a .....yawn...been there done that? Lets go again! If it would be much easier today, lets go again......

    November 16, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • irussel

      2 main reasons: its very expensive, and we're no longer racing against the Russians to get there.

      November 16, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      Also, what is the return on investment? The cost is high, so is our deficit. Try to get anyone to agree right now that it's worth the money it would cost. And remember, it only took a few missions to the moon for the public to lose interest.

      November 16, 2011 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Islam

    Did Mankind really travel to the Moon with the Apollo missions? I give you the Quran which was delivered to mankind over 1400 years ago.


    "And [I swear by] the moon when it is full, you will mount up stage by stage! What is the matter with them, that they have no faith? (Qur'an, 84:18-20)"
    After referring to the Moon, the above verses then say that people will mount up stage by stage. The term tarkabunna comes from the verb rakiba, (to mount, walk on a path, follow, embark upon, set about, participate, or rule). In the light of these meanings, it is very likely that the expression "you will mount up stage by stage" refers to a vehicle to be boarded.

    Indeed, the astronauts' spacecraft pass through each layer of the atmosphere one by one, and then begin to pass through the Moon's gravitational field. Thus, the Moon is reached by moving through individual layers. In addition, the swearing by the Moon in Surat al-Inshiqaq 18 further strengthens this emphasis, meaning that the verse may well be a sign that humanity will travel to the Moon. (Allah knows best.)

    November 16, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cedar Rapids

      No, it has nothing to do with man travelling to the moon.

      November 16, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      Here's the problem, islam is based on a book written by a man who was convinced he had imagined God was with him in a cave. It was his wife who convinced him otherwise.

      So, why would we take the work of a rambling man who sees things (and no witness to confirm otherwise) as anything but nonsense?

      November 16, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  3. We really did it

    One of the Apollo astronauts said it best: "If people think we faked the moon landings, why would we have to fake it 6 times?"
    Also, watch the MythBusters episode on trying to fake many aspects of the moon landings. They couldn't do it, best explanation was actually being on the moon!

    November 16, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  4. STEVE

    Of course we went to the moon! The evidence is overwhelming. Only stupid people believe it was a hoax. Moon rocks were distributed to every nation on earth, including our enemy (at the time) the USSR. Would they have confirmed our "hoax" if they could have disproven it? of course not! Use your heads, people.

    November 16, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  5. happy

    M-O-O-N, dat spells moon.

    November 16, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Tin Cans Flew to the Moon

    And they brought back......wood:

    November 16, 2011 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • louis

      your source for this a BLOG? No major news agencies have picked up on this important news story?
      Your just another conspiracy theory nut-job who is off their meds... put your aluminum hat back on and stay off the message boards.

      November 16, 2011 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • BBJ

      Discovery Magazine isn't a major news source?

      November 21, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Buzz

      That news source big enough?

      November 21, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  7. RySky

    36 KB of memory for the lunar computer??? That is insane. Considering the hyper powerful computers we have today, and the leaps and bounds technologically we've had since the 60's, I am shocked we have not sent a man, or woman, to mars yet.

    November 16, 2011 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill Mosby

      Actually, it was 4096 bytes of random access memory, implemented in magnetic core memory technology, and 73,728 bytes of read-only memory. The word length was 16 bits (2 bytes), however, so that last figure is 36,864 words, which is I think where the article gets 36 KB from. That RAM is about the size of an internet cookie, if I remember correctly.

      November 16, 2011 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Earl Weaver

      Ahhh, core memory. I remember working on the IBM 360-65 back in the day. 256 Kilobytes of onboard core with an add-on Ampex unit…512 K total. I actually replaced a memory one time on serial number 12. Good eyes and a steady hand…a long time ago.

      November 16, 2011 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill Mosby

      We had an IBM 360-67 at U of Michigan in the late 60s. I seem to recall that it had this kludge called a "data cell" which stored data on flexible magnetic strips about 3 feet long. It was able to index over to a group of them, pull one out, read it, and put it back into storage in one swift motion. When it worked, that is. All in all the computer center claimed to have something like a gigabyte on line at any one time although the datacell, which made up about half of it, was quite a bit slower than a disk drive. It was faster than tape, though. Later on it was replaced by an Amdahl. Remember those?

      November 17, 2011 at 12:37 am | Report abuse |
  8. Dale

    Too bad America gave up on the dream of going back to the moon.

    November 16, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mark Faulkner

    They didn't go to the moon. It was all hoax.

    November 16, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
  10. SteveOfTx

    The Moon landing was a hoax.
    Global warming is a myth (probably made up by giant air conditioner manufacturers – prepare now!)
    Paul really is dead.
    Oh yeah ... Trickle down economics really works.

    November 16, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Ian Andrew Schneider

    Love the quote "...and trickle down econimics really works."

    November 16, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
  12. banasy©

    I get it, Ralph.
    Where's the Grand Pubah?

    November 16, 2011 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
  13. banasy©

    I see what you did there. Lmao!

    November 16, 2011 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Trinka

    Not to split hairs, Steve, but didn't you say you were a creationist? Oh, I see, it's only YOUR God that's correct, huh? Pfft!

    November 16, 2011 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Guest

    I went to the moon three of the times I did LSD
    One side has an old washing machine

    November 16, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
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