Apollo Expeditions to the Moon|
ASLEEP IN LUNAR ORBITWe began preparing the LM. It was scheduled to take three hours, but because I had already started the checkout, we were completed a half hour ahead of schedule. Reluctantly we returned to the Columbia as planned. Our fourth night we were to sleep in lunar orbit. Although it was not in the flight plan, before covering the windows and dousing the lights, Neil and I carefully prepared all the equipment and clothing we would need in the morning, and mentally ran through the many procedures we would follow.
COLLINS: "Apollo 11, Apollo 11, good morning from the Black Team." Could they be talking to me? It takes me twenty seconds to fumble for the microphone button and answer groggily, I guess I have only been asleep five hours or so; I had a tough time getting to sleep, and now I'm having trouble waking up. Neil, Buzz, and I all putter about fixing breakfast and getting various items ready for transfer into the LM. [Later] I stuff Neil and Buzz into the LM along with an armload of equipment. Now I have to do the tunnel bit again, closing hatches, installing drogue and probe, and disconnecting the electrical umbilical. I am on the radio constantly now, running through an elaborate series of joint checks with Eagle. I check progress with Buzz: "I have five minutes and fifteen seconds since we started. Attitude is holding very well." "Roger, Mike, just hold it a little bit longer." "No sweat, I can hold it all day. Take your sweet time. How's the czar over there? He's so quiet." Neil chimes in, "Just hanging on- and punching." Punching those computer buttons, I guess he means. "All I can say is, beware the revolution," and then, getting no answer, I formally bid them goodbye. "You cats take it easy on the lunar surface...." "O.K., Mike," Buzz answers cheerily, and I throw the switch which releases them. With my nose against the window and the movie camera churning away, I watch them go. When they are safely clear of me, I inform Neil, and he begins a slow pirouette in place, allowing me a look at his outlandish machine and its four extended legs. "The Eagle has wings'" Neil exults.
It doesn't look like any eagle I have ever seen. It is the weirdest-looking contraption ever to invade the sky, floating there with its legs awkwardly jutting out above a body which has neither symmetry nor grace. I make sure all four landing gears arc down and locked, report that fact, and then lie a little, "I think you've got a fine-looking flying machine there. Eagle, despite the fact you're upside down." "Somebody's upside down," Neil retorts. "O.K., Eagle. One minute . . . you guys take care." Neil answers, "See you later." I hope so. When the one minute is up, I fire my thrusters precisely as planned and we begin to separate, checking distances and velocities as we go. This burn is a very small one, just to give Eagle some breathing room. From now on it's up to them, and they will make two separate burns in reaching the lunar surface. The first one will serve to drop Eagle's perilune to fifty thousand feet. Then, when they reach this spot over the eastern edge of the Sea of Tranquility, Eagle's descent engine will be fired up for the second and last time, and Eagle will lazily are over into a 12-minute computer- controlled descent to some point at which Neil will take over for a manual landing.
ALDRIN: We were still 60 miles above the surface when we began our first burn. Neil and I were harnessed into the LM in a standing position. [Later] at precisely the right moment the engine ignited to begin the 12-minute powered descent. Strapped in by the system of belts and cables not unlike shock absorbers, neither of us felt the initial motion. We looked quickly at the computer to make sure we were actually functioning as planned. After 26 seconds the engine went to full throttle and the motion became noticeable. Neil watched his instruments while I looked at our primary computer and compared it with our second computer, which was part of our abort guidance system.
I then began a computer read-out sequence to Neil which was also being transmitted to Houston. I had helped develop it. It sounded as though I was chattering like a magpie. It also sounded as though I was doing all the work. During training we had discussed the possibility of making the communication only between Neil and myself, but Mission Control liked the idea of hearing our communications with each other. Neil had referred to it once as "that damned open mike of yours," and I tried to make as little an issue of it as possible.