The year was 1969. On July 20th, the “Giant leap for mankind” inspired a nation … actually… inspired the world… to dream and to embrace everything about science and technology. The Apollo 11 mission with Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, showed us that man could do almost anything if we put our great minds to it.
What were the challenges for the Apollo moon mission? Engineers needed to launch the fully fueled Saturn V rocket weighing 6.2 million pounds, standing 363 feet tall (taller than the Statue of Liberty), through Earth’s atmosphere, to the moon and back. A team of scientists, led by John Hoboult, concluded that the Saturn V rocket could carry the astronauts with the small lunar lander. The lunar module, Eagle, named by Armstrong, could separate from the spacecraft in a lunar-orbit rendezvous thus saving on fuel rather than an Earth orbit rendezvous, which would require more fuel. The Eagle lunar module did not need to be aerodynamically superior because there was no atmospheric pressure on the moon. By saving on that design, it lightened the weight and the cost to transport and construct it.
Another challenge was the Skylab spacesuit protecting the astronauts so it needed to: be fireproof, protect against extreme temperatures, be flexible, provide communication capability and protect against micrometeoroids that could puncture the suit. Attached to the suit was the backpack PLSS, Portable Life Support System. Solving the challenges then, brought us technologies we use today in cooling suits, kidney dialysis, physical therapy, athletic shoes, insulation with mylar, reflectors, solar panels, water purification, freeze-dried foods, green building products with Teflon, insulation and fire resistant textiles.
But…as critical as it is for technology to be accurate…Apollo 11 needed man’s intervention to take control. At the last minute as the Eagle was landing on the moon surface, it was programmed towards a rock field. Armstrong took over and landed it safely with less than one minute of fuel remaining.
We all witnessed computers in action for the first time on live television as the astronauts communicated with mission control in Houston. The urgency and drama as we watched man’s crowning achievements unfold before our eyes created burning ambition to dream and conquer. The Apollo 11 mission inspired more people to appreciate science, technology and to pursue career paths as engineers than any other event in history.
1969 was the year: the Internet was born; the first microprocessor was invented by a startup company called Intel - paving the way for personal computers; the first flights of a Boeing 747 and the Concorde and gas was 35 cents a gallon. On the big screen was “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”, John Wayne in “True Grit” and Dustin Hoffman in “Midnight Cowboy”. The radio was playing music by The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. You were watching you black and white tv change to color with “Get Smart”, “Columbo” and “The Fugitive”. And we all watched Apollo 11 land on the moon and Neil Armstrong take his “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Though modern technology is growing exponentially greater with each passing day, this one “Giant leap” will forever be the one big leap for mankind. It catapulted man into the age of technology. Today, 46 years later, there is more technology in the tiny Apple watch than was in the entire Apollo mission.
Like all the memorable moments and mental snapshots from 1969, the most remarkable and iconic are the images Armstrong and Aldrin took while walking on the lunar surface. These pictures are emblazoned in our minds and the camera that took those famous photos was a Hasselblad, powered by a VARTA Microbattery. Today VARTA Microbattery remains an innovative supplier of advanced battery technology, powering the latest advances in portable medical devices, wearables, server markets and home automation…to name a few.
Let VARTA Microbattery be your power engineering partner and design consultant for your next project. To learn more and enter for a chance to win an Apple Watch Sport Edition, click below.