A stunning interactive 3D map revealing the hidden details of the Apollo moon landings has been released to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.
Users can visualise exactly where Neil Armstrong, Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin were when they, along with Michael Collins, orchestrated one of the most incredible feats in the history of humankind when their Eagle lander touched down on July 20 1969.
Roughly 600 million people are thought to have tuned in to the live broadcast of Apollo 11 and now the grainy television sets can be replaced with the new map.
Users are able to follow the different routes taken by Apollonauts from all the successful missions of the programme, which took a total of 12 men to the lunar surface.
At each landing site the location of the landing modules, moon buggies, reflectors and experimental equipment are all pinpointed.
Apollo 11 was the first mission that put humans on the moon, with both Armstrong and Aldrin gracing the surface while Collins piloted the lunar orbiter himself.
How to use the 3D map: In order to see lunar landing sites, craters, seas and other topography, simply use the slides in the top right to explore – or you can zoom into the moon, using the cursor to spin the moon around. You can then click on to the various icons to reveal facts about the various missions.
The new interactive map allows users to follow red and yellow routes (as above) and chart the journey of the team who had been travelling to the moon
Screen grabs from the interactive map show astronauts using space buggies to get around the moon during their missions
The map pinpoints the various landing sites as well as charts missions such as Apollo 11, as it takes you on an in depth journey of the moon
Apollo 11 was the culmination of a decade of engineering effort and scientific innovation driven by the famous space race between the Soviet Union and the US.
John F Kennedy inspired his nation to get behind the Apollo missions during the 1960s following his iconic speech at Rice University in Texas.
The president, who died just over a year after he delivered the rousing oration, proclaimed: ‘We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organise and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win.’
And the space agency honoured the president posthumously by achieving his goal and sticking to his established timeline – beating it by three years when three Apollo astronauts took off from Cape Canaveral on July 16 1969 and landing on the lunar surface four days later.
Both command module pilot Michael Collins along with lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin had both been in the US Air Force, while Commander Neil Armstrong had served in the US Navy.
Despite spending over eight days together during the missing, the three astronauts never actually became close friends like other crews, such as that of Apollo 12.
The astronauts used a Saturn V rocket to get to the moon, the most powerful rocket ever made.
America, and the rest of the world, held its breath as the enormous rocket engines fired up and began the vast ascent into space.
Less than 18 months prior, Apollo 1 nearly derailed the entire space programme before it even got off the ground when three astronauts – Virgil ‘Gus’ Grissom, Ed White II and Roger Chaffee – were trapped in a searing inferno during a faulty test run of Apollo 1.
But the Soviets streaked out to an impressive lead in the space race when Yuri Gagarin breached the final frontier in 1961 and became the first human in orbit.
The US fell behind their arch-rivals and it was not until the dawn of the Apollo programme that they snatched momentum from the Soviets and took the lead in the race to the Sea of Tranquillity.
Today, Vice President of the US Mike Pence honoured the late Neil Armstrong in a speech watched watched by the late astronaut’s wife, son and grandson, Mr Pence praised Armstrong’s courage and ‘incredible accomplishment’.
The commander died in August 2012 at the age of 82, following complications from a cardiovascular procedure.
‘The risks were great, the odds were long, and they were so long that some even feared that if we could make it to the moon we might not be able to make it back,’ he said.
‘I expect it is moving for his family and for every family to remember the dangers and the risks at the time that this spacesuit simply may have been the very last thing that Neil Armstrong ever wore, in fact, there was a time and during that time that scientists speculated whether when a lunar module like this one behind me landed on the moon, whether it would be able to lift off again.
He continued: ‘His courage was displayed perhaps nowhere more profoundly than in the moments just before the Apollo 11 lunar module landed on the surface of the moon, it was that coolness during the original landing that likely saved the lives of the two astronauts that were aboard the lunar module.
‘When the original landing area turned out to be so full of large boulders that landing there would have doomed the mission and the crew, history records again that Neil Armstrong calmly took the control of the module, skimmed across the top of the lunar surface and manually found a safe spot to touch down. By the time he set down, Armstrong and Aldrin had 17 seconds of fuel left remaining. It’s incredible.’
You can also see classic images on the interactive map which include the moment the U.S flag is put on the moon for the first time
The interactive map allows users to jump to specific events including when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon
WHO HAS BEEN TO THE MOON?
In total twelve people have walked on the moon.
1 + 2. Apollo 11 – July 21, 1969
Neil Armstrong made history by becoming the first person to set foot on the moon.
Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin followed Neil Armstrong on to the surface of the moon. His popular nickname gave itself to the animated characte Buzz Lightyear.
3 + 4. Apollo 12 – November 19 and 20, 1969
Pete Conrad and Alan Bean were the moon walkers on the Apollo 12 mission.
The Apollo 12 crew experienced two lightning strikes just after their Saturn V rocket launched.
5 + 6. Apollo 14 – February 5, 1971
Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell who were part of the Apollo 14 mission. They launched on January 31, 1971, and landed in the Fra Mauro region of the moon, the original destination for Apollo 13.
7 + 8. Apollo 15 – July 31, 1971
David Scott and James Irwin landed on the moon and stayed for three days, until August 2nd.
9 + 10. Apollo 16 – April 21 1972
John Young and Charles Duke were the next men to walk on the moon. When the crew reached lunar orbit, the mission almost had to be aborted because of a problem with Command/Service Module’s main engine.
11 + 12. Apollo 17 – December 11, 1972
The final people to walk on the moon were Eugene (Gene) Cernan and Harrison (Jack) Schmitt.
Before he left the moon, Cernan scratched the initials of his daughter Tracy into the lunar regolith. Since the moon does not experience weather conditions like wind or rain to erode anything away, her initials should stay there for a very long time.
In the 1950s, engineers in the UK had set their sights on achieving the feat first.
The British scientists wanted to achieve their first soft landing in 1962 ahead of putting a Briton on the surface in 1968.
By 1970, engineers intended to set up a base on the Moon and carry out a seven-day expedition. It was believed success in the Space Race would bring Britain international prestige and military power.
If the plans had come to fruition, the British astronaut would have beaten Neil Armstrong’s ‘giant leap for mankind’ on July 20, 1969, by a year.
The secret plans were recently revealed after hundreds of photographs and diagrams were uncovered at the Airbus factory in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, during recent renovations.
When clicking on specific modules in the interactive map you are able to open up fact pages such as this one which details the 1969 moon landing
The factory was previously owned by de Havilland Propellers who were responsible for Britain’s nuclear missile Blue Streak.
It is believed the space plans were drawn up when their defence contract was about to be terminated and engineers were looking for an alternative use for their expensive rocket.
Doug Millard, a Space Race expert from London’s Science Museum, said: ‘It might be hard to believe now, but Britain was really the third space power at this time. It had rockets.
‘By that time it was actually leading the space scene along with America and Russia. So it is not unthinkable to think we could have been developing a space programme.’
The British Interplanetary Society which was founded in 1931 were influential in trying to push for space travel.
The group of academics and philosophers including science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke devised a project of landing on the Moon using a multi-stage rocket.
After the Second World War, the group had raised enough awareness that a trip to the Moon started to become conceivable.
According to the newly unearthed plans, engineers planned for the British astronauts to land in the Piazzi Smyth crater near the Sea of Rains, 900 miles from the Sea of Tranquillity where Apollo 11 landed.
It is not clear why the plans never came to fruition but Mr Millard believes the huge costs during the postwar period and the birth of the NHS could have impacted the programme.
The UK Space Agency said it did not know about the plans.
Jeremy Close, spokesman for Airbus, said: ‘These archives, discovered hidden in an old storeroom in Stevenage show that even in the 1960s our engineers were looking at technologies ahead of their time.’
Prospero, a satellite launched in 1971, remains the only British satellite to be put into orbit using a British vehicle.
WHAT WAS THE APOLLO PROGRAM?
NASA photo taken on July 16, 1969 shows the huge, 363-foot tall Apollo 11 Spacecraft 107/Lunar Module S/Saturn 506) space vehicle launched from Pad A, Launch Complex 39. Kennedy Space Center (KSC), at 9:32 a.m. (EDT).
Apollo was the NASA programme that launched in 1961 and got man on the moon.
The first four flights tested the equipment for the Apollo Program and six of the other seven flights managed to land on the moon.
The first manned mission to the moon was Apollo 8 which circled around it on Christmas Eve in 1968 but did not land.
The crew of Apollo 9 spent ten days orbiting Earth and completed the first manned flight of the lunar module – the section of the Apollo rocket that would later land Neil Armstrong on the Moon.
The Apollo 11 mission was the first on to land on the moon on 20 July 1969.
The capsule landed on the Sea of Tranquillity, carrying mission commander Neil Armstrong and pilot Buzz Aldrin.
Armstrong and Aldrin walked on the lunar surface while Michael Collins remained in orbit around the moon.
When Armstrong became the first person to walk on the moon, he said, ‘That’s one small step for (a) man; one giant leap for mankind.’
Apollo 12 landed later that year on 19 November on the Ocean of Storms, writes NASA.
Apollo 13 was to be the third mission to land on the moon, but just under 56 hours into flight, an oxygen tank explosion forced the crew to cancel the lunar landing and move into the Aquarius lunar module to return back to Earth.
Apollo 15 was the ninth manned lunar mission in the Apollo space program, and considered at the time the most successful manned space flight up to that moment because of its long duration and greater emphasis on scientific exploration than had been possible on previous missions.
The last Apollo moon landing happened in 1972 after a total of 12 astronauts had touched down on the lunar surface.
Astronaut Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin unpacking experiments from the Lunar Module on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission. Photographed by Neil Armstrong, 20 July 1969