July 31, 2012 by dontbringlulubook
In 1961, the then President John F Kennedy proposed the following National goal in a speech before the US Congress “Before this decade is out, to land a man on the Moon and return him safely to the Earth.” This first manned mission to land on the Moon was a success and, the Eagle having been launched by a Saturn V rocket from the Kennedy Space Centre in Merritt Island in Florida on July 16th as the 5th manned mission of NASA’s Apollo program, landed in the Sea of Tranquillity on July 20th 1969 at 20.18hrs.
As a moonshot journalist, Ron Onions filmed the lift-off on a Super 8 cine camera and Sarah Onions, in the book “Don’t Bring Lulu” written by her and her parents, emembers how, from the VIP stand reserved for the families of such journalists, her overwhelming impression as Apollo 11 left the earth was of the exhilarating power of the flames that spread outwards across the launch pad.
Apollo 11 was manned by three astronauts – Americans Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin who actually walked on the moon’s surface and Michael Collins who remained alone in the lunar orbit until they returned from the surface about 15 hours later. Neil Armstrong became the first human to step onto the lunar surface six hours after they landed on the moon on July 21st at 02.56hrs.
Having been at Cape Kennedy to see Apollo 11 be launched, Ron, Doris and Sarah Onions then had the opportunity to fly on to Mission Control in Houston to watch the spacecraft land on the moon and see Neil Armstrong’s first historic steps, staying in Houston until the spacecraft returned to earth where they had the run of the Press Centre and were able to watch on a huge screen a continuous relay of what the astronauts were up to.
It took four days for Apollo 11 to reach the moon and 500 million people heard as Armstrong announced “The Eagle has landed”. As he stepped onto the actual lunar surface it was broadcast on live TV to a worldwide audience as he described the event as “one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Ron did a special report from Houston on the contrasting ways that journalists from all over the world were covering the moonshot – when Sarah read it years later she did not know at first that the work that impressed her so much was actually written by her father.
All three astronauts returned safely to Earth after travelling in space for eight days, landing safely at sea after an uneventful journey back from the moon, achieving JFK’s national goal proposed eight years earlier.