NASA TV rebroadcasts Apollo 11 mission on 50th anniversary

By Paul Brinkmann
The Apollo 11 Saturn V rocket climbs toward orbit after liftoff from Pad 39A at 9:32 a.m. EDT on July 16, 1969. Onboard were astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin. Photo courtesy of NASA
The Apollo 11 Saturn V rocket climbs toward orbit after liftoff from Pad 39A at 9:32 a.m. EDT on July 16, 1969. Onboard were astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin. Photo courtesy of NASA | License Photo

July 16 (UPI) -- Just as millions around the globe watched the Apollo 11 moonshot 50 years ago, space enthusiasts young and old can watch the mission unfold in real time on a special NASA website, "Apollo 11 in Real Time, 50 Years Later."

Starting with the launch at 9:32 a.m. on July 16, 1969, the audio/video feeds on the site follow the three astronauts in the spaceship as the rocket ascends, enters Earth orbit and then begins the trek to the moon.


And that's just in the first few hours. The website also carries simultaneous broadcasts of the Mission Control room in Houston, along with a running transcript of the recorded audio.

Viewers can either check in at any point in the eight day mission to see what was happening at the time, or skip around to the highlights.


According to NASA's own promotion of the rebroadcast, "Visitors can open this panel at any second of the mission and be able to hear such things as the flight surgeon threatening to quarantine the entire USS Hornet," the ship that recovered the capsule and astronauts in the ocean.

Software developer Ben Feist created the rebroadcast over two years. He synced all forms of media to mission time, which NASA said was a challenge given that sound recordings varied widely in speed.

The website includes 11,000 hours of Mission Control audio, 2,000 photographs, 240 hours of space to ground audio, and information on each of the lunar surface samples collected by Armstrong and Aldrin. A timeline at the top of the page keeps track of your place in the mission and highlights interesting moments.

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NASA Live TV also rebroadcast the launch Tuesday morning, while Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins gave his perspective along with Kennedy Space Center Administrator Bob Cabana.

NASA Live TV also will broadcast more about the Apollo 11 anniversary at 1 p.m. EDT on Friday, which will include future plans to return to the moon and go forward to Mars. Then at 4 p.m. on Saturday, NASA Live TV will replay the original Apollo 11 footage of the first moonwalk.


Around the globe, it is estimated that 600 million people watched the mission, including 1 of every 4 people in the United States.

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Speaking on the broadcast, Collins said he and astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin felt like "the nervous novice driving a wide vehicle down a narrow alley" as the rocket lifted off.

He said people watching the launch saw a rocket lifting slowly and majestically from the pad, but he felt a lot of "jiggling to the left and right" and he wondered how close the rocket was to knocking against the launch tower.

Collins said the second stage of the Saturn rocket was a source of worry for the team.

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"The second stage was something we worried about through the design. We were a little bit worried about, how was this second stage for manned flight," Collins said. "It was smooth as glass. It was our friend that day."

Collins orbited the moon in the lunar command module while Armstrong and Aldrin descended in the lander and became the first humans to walk on a celestial object besides Earth.

Collins said he loves the name Artemis for future manned space missions, which is what NASA is calling its planned return to the moon by the year 2024. Artemis was the sister to the god Apollo in Greek mythology.


Collins told UPI recently he believes the best option for space exploration is to aim for Mars. On the NASA live broadcast Tuesday, he repeated that wish, but acknowledged that Armstrong thought more moon missions were necessary before going to Mars, which is how NASA is proceeding.

"We believe the faster we get to the moon, the faster we get to Mars," Cabana said.

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