To All Who Made Apollo 11 Successful – AIAA Thanks You
On July 20, the world will pause to celebrate the 45th anniversary of man’s first landing on the moon, rightfully saluting Neil Armstrong (AIAA Honorary Fellow); Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin (AIAA Fellow); and Michael Collins (AIAA Fellow), hailing them for their bravery and courage in twice traversing the wine-dark sea of space to successfully complete the historic Apollo 11 mission.
But July 20 is also a day to celebrate all who made that mission a success, from the backup crew of James Lovell, Jr.; William Anders (AIAA Associate Fellow); Ken Mattingly; and Fred Haise, Jr. (AIAA Associate Fellow); to the Capsule Communicators: Charlie Duke; Ronald Evans; Owen Garriott, ( AIAA Associate Fellow); Don Lind; Bruce McCandless II, (AIAA Senior Member); Harrison Schmitt (AIAA Fellow); Bill Pogue; and Jack Swigert; and especially the Flight Directors: Cliff Charlesworth; Gene Krantz; and Glynn Lunney (AIAA Fellow).
We should also pause to remember the efforts of the Project Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo mission astronauts who paved the way for Apollo 11, especially Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Edward White, and Roger Chaffee, who gave their last full measures of devotion to make June 20, 1969, possible.
Also included in our thanks should be President John F. Kennedy who laid down the challenge to land on the moon before the decade of the 1960s was out, as well as Presidents Johnson and Nixon for continuing the Apollo project and making sure that challenge was met. And, of course, the countless senators and congressmen who kept the program on course with funding and support.
We should not forget the hundreds of thousands of other people, the unsung and unnamed heroes, who are owed our gratitude for making possible the events of July 20–21, 1969 – of course the engineers and scientists, but also the program managers who unified and directed everyone; the electricians who laid the wiring; the technicians and welders from numerous companies who executed the engineers’ designs; the metal workers who made sure the materials were correctly fabricated; the doctors who determined that it was medically possible for humans to go to space and back; the meteorologists who kept their eyes on the weather and helped determine if launch was possible; the sailors and airmen who lent their talents to the mission’s security and recovery efforts; the accountants who managed the budgets; and also our Australian allies, especially the staffs at the Parkes Observatory and Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station who helped transmit the iconic images of those days. Everyone connected to the effort helped to make July 20–21, 1969, happen.
Without the efforts of a strong community of aerospace professionals in all segments of the Apollo program, and of course the Mercury and Gemini programs before it, Neil Armstrong’s historic steps would not have been possible. So while we salute the astronauts, who much like Odysseus undertook a great journey facing seemingly impossible odds, on this day, we also must recognize the crew of committed individuals behind them, each playing their own role, who ensured the journey’s end was reached.