SPACE CENTER, HOUSTON, July 19, 1969 (UPI) -- Apollo 11 dropped into orbit around the moon today and started scouting the landscape where man will take his first steps late Sunday or early Monday.
Ahead were four more key maneuvers leading to a touchdown on the moon at 4:14 p.m. tomorrow (EDT) and Neil A. Armstrong's historic first step on its surface late tomorrow or early Monday.
Armstrong, Edwin E. "Buzz" Aldrin Jr. and Michael Collins awoke this morning refreshed after a solid night's sleep.
Because of recalculations today of Apollo 11's speed and position, it was determined it would reach the moon 4 minutes 39 seconds earlier than planned.
This meant all lunar developments of the flight, including the touchdown on the moon and Armstrong's scheduled first step on the moon--- will occur that much sooner. Armstrong's first step on the lunar surface is now scheduled for 2:16 a.m. (EDT) Monday.
The splashdown time in the Pacific at 12:51 p.m. (EDT) next Thursday was not changed. The time discrepancy will be made up on the way back from the moon, a spokesman said.
Collins, busy shooting the stars for navigation, saw the moon, lit by reflected light off the earth and with the sun blazing behind it he said the crater Tycho on the moon's surface could be clearly seen.
"It's quite an eerie sight."
"There's a very marked three-dimensional aspect of having the sun's corona edge glow come from behind the moon the way it is. I guess what's giving it that three-dimensional effect is the earthshine."
"The earthshine coming through the window is so bright you can read a book by it," Collins said a few minutes later.
The astronauts expected to learn today whether they will share the lunar surface when Aldrin and Armstrong step out onto it late Sunday or early Monday with a Russian robot rocket--- or whether the Soviets' Luna 15 may be heading back to earth with a scoopful of lunar soil by then.
Aldrin checked in with Mission Control at the astronaut's scheduled wakeup time at 6:32 a.m. (EDT) and was told the scheduled 8:26 a.m. midcourse correction would be skipped. Of the four corrections, Apollo 11 used only one since it started for the moon Wednesday because its initial trajectory was almost perfect.
"And that was that," said a spokesman at Mission Control. "Apparently they turned over and went back to sleep."
Two hours later, the spacemen responded crisply to the wakeup call and started going through plans for the day's activity. They breakfasted on Canadian bacon and applesauce.
"Good morning again," Armstrong acknowledged when the space center here roused them.
Armstrong and Aldrin spent nearly three hours checking out their "Eagle" lunar lander last night, showing much of the operation to millions on earth in the longest television transmission yet from space--- an hour and 36 minutes.
The astronauts got a spectacular view as the spacecraft sped toward the moon.
Armstrong said he could see the sun's jagged, flaming edge extending from behind the moon a distance of "two lunar diameters." And with the moon blotting out some of the sun, the astronauts could see the heavens more clearly.
"We're able to see stars again and recognize constellations for the first time in the trip," he said.
Four hours after the initial firing to enter lunar orbit, the crewmen will touch off their main Apollo rocket again and place their craft in a 62 by 76 mile high orbit. This is the orbit in which the command ship--- and Collins--- will remain.
Armstrong and Aldrin, inside the landing craft, perform the third maneuver leading to the landing tomorrow when they separate their craft from the command ship.
Their fourth step will be a firing of the lander's descent engine to start them down toward the moon, the fifth step is the final approach to the surface when Armstrong will throttle his descent engine back and forth by hand until he sets the craft gently down in a swirl of dust.
Ground control gave the crewmen a summary of the news at mid-morning, including a series of forecasts from a Houston astrologer:
"Neil Armstrong tends to see the world through rose colored gasses, but always helps those who are afflicted...
"Mike Collins is likely to possess the same attributes as Armstrong... and is also inventive.
"Buzz Aldrin does not like to be alone."
Collins laughed at the report.
"Who made all that up?" he asked.
Armstrong still could decide to take that first step on the moon late Sunday after the landing or wait until early Monday morning as initially planned.
Dr. Charles A. Berry, the astronauts' doctor, watched the TV broadcast and said as a physician this was important in determining their conditions. He said the crew had reported no illness on the flight, had taken no medication at all and had slept better than expected.
"I think they look like they are in great shape. It's certainly reassuring to see them looking that way," Berry told an early morning news conference today.
Berry was asked about the possibility of starting the moon walk late Sunday rather than Monday morning by eliminating a 4-hour rest period scheduled for Armstrong and Aldrin before they leave Eagle. "We were quite concerned... they didn't get adequate sleep on these first three nights and then faced that lunar surface activity period already fatigued... if there was a request on their part to alter the flight plan, we would make a real time medical decision based on whether we thought they were rested enough to undertake the EVA moon walk at that time," Berry said.
Berry said flight planners had been concerned at first about the prospect of the astronauts trying to make their fatiguing moonwalk already tired from not being able to sleep on the first three nights of the flight. In fact, the astronauts have slept well all three nights.