SEABROOK, Tex. -- Just seven minutes after the blastoff of Apollo 11 today, Mrs. Joan Aldrin broke a long silence as she rested her head on her 13-year-old son's shoulder.
"Wouldn't it be nice to be counting down to splashdown" she said to her son. Michael, who bears a close resemblance to his astronaut father, Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., agreed.
An American flag fluttered softly from a flagpole outside the Aldrin home during the takeoff of the historic Apollo 11 moonship. Inside Mrs. Aldrin, her children and a few friends sat watching a color television set in the den of their suburban home.
No one said anything from several minutes before blastoff until 11-year-old Andrew broke the silence when the astronauts prepared for staging two minutes after launch.
"There it is," he said. About eight minutes after blastoff Mrs. Aldrin got up from an orange tub-type chair and walked into her kitchen for a cup of coffee.
The scene was similarly quiet at the home of astronaut Michael Collins, a few blocks from the Aldrin residence.
Mrs. Collins, shortly after the start of the mission, said "I think it's beautiful and I'm glad the flight is under way."
A spokesman for the family described the scene in the Collins home as a "family affair." He said Mrs. Collins was tense "but outwardly calm."
Mrs. Janet Armstrong watched the launch from Cape Kennedy.
The families of the three astronauts had been through it all before, the early ringing of the alarm clock, the friends and loved ones rally around, coffee to fortify their courage. But this time it was different. This time the astronauts were going all the way to the surface of the moon.
Kate Collins, the 10-year-old daughter of the command module pilot, served coffee to newsmen on the lawn of her suburban Nassau Bay brick ranch type home shortly before blastoff.
Dressed in yellow shorts and an orange and yellow striped shirt, she carried out trays of coffee cups as photographers took a series of pictures of her and her blond, tousle-haired brother, Michael, 6.
The two youngsters said they too would like to be astronauts.
"It would be a lot of fun," Michael said.
"I'll be thinking how much fun it is and how he (her father) has been working so hard," Kate said. "I like science, geography and math."
A violent thunderstorm last night punctuated the launch-eve tension for the wives and children of Apollo 11 astronauts Michael Collins and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr.
The Aldrin home was pelted with branches and leaves, and a 30-foot tree crashed into the yard of the Collins home but missed the house.
The tree blew down last night as Mrs. Collins was preparing to send her excited children Kathleen, 10, Ann, 7, and Michael, 6 to bed.
"We just heard it cracking," Mrs. Collins said.