Paper layout
Section 1: Document Question
Section 2: Ireland
Section 3: Europe and the World
Essay Skills

Sample: Case Study 3: The moon landing, 1969

 

CASE STUDY 3: THE MOON LANDING, 1969


Background

    • During the Cold War, the US and USSR carried the tensions of the period in the space race, and this race to develop space technology accelerated when it was realised that inter-continental ballistic missile technology, which both the US and the USSR had, could be used to send humans into space
    • In 1957, the USSR successfully launched the world’s first satellite, named Sputnik I, into space, much to the horror of the US
    • In 1958, the US launched their own satellite called Explorer I and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration was set up by President Eisenhower
    • In 1960, the first man-made object to land on the moon, the Russian Luna I probe, was launched
    • The following year in 1961, the USSR launched cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin into orbit around the earth, making him the first human in space, closely followed by American astronaut Alan Shepard
    • Also in 1961, John F Kennedy gave his first State of the Union Address as US president and announced plans to send a man to the moon
    • In order to send man to the moon, NASA had to figure out a way to build a rocket with enough power to launch a several astronauts, their life support and their space suits out of earth’s atmosphere
    • The Space Race was a massive boost to the US economy, creating 500,000 new jobs

 

Mercury and Gemini

    • Between 1959 and 1963, the US launched the Mercury Programme
    • Mercury consisted of one-man missions into space with the goal of testing the technology required for space flight and how the human body reacts to conditions in space
    • As part of Mercury, John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth in 1962
    • After the end of the Mercury Programme in 1963, Project Gemini was launched
    • Until 1966, Gemini sent two-man missions to collect information about the possibility of landing and walking on the moon
    • In 1965, the Gemini 4 mission was the first to carry out a successful space walk
    • Later, Gemini 7 spent two whole weeks in space, which was the proof needed by NASA that the human body could withstand prolonged exposure to space conditions

 

Apollo Programme

    • Between 1967 and 1972, NASA ran three-man Apollo missions with the express aim of landing on the moon
    • During testing in 1967 in the Apollo I craft, a fire broke out and three astronauts were killed but in the same year, the Saturn V rocket was completed by German engineer Werner von Braun and would power all Apollo crafts
    • In 1968, Apollo 8 became the first mission to break away from the earth’s orbit and enter the moon’s orbit
    • Apollo 10 was launched as a test run for Apollo 11, the intended moon landing mission, and managed to get within 9 miles of the moon’s surface
    • On July 16th 1969, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins left earth on Apollo 11 for the moon
    • Apollo 11 completed one and a half orbits of the earth and the the Saturn V rocket launched them towards the moon at 25,000 miles per hour

 

Living conditions in space

    • The astronauts traveled inside the Columbia Command Module but living in the module was made difficult by the lack of gravity
    • Food had to be freeze-dried in order to allow for compact storage
    • In order to sleep safely, the astronauts had to tie themselves down
    • Every day, the crew filmed their lives and experiments on board the craft

 

The Moon Landing

    • on July 19th 1969, Apollo 11 arrived at the moon and entered its orbit
    • On July 20th, Armstrong and Aldrin moved from the Command Module to the Eagle Lunar Module, which would detach from Command and land on the moon’s surface, leaving Collins to keep the Command Module in orbit
    • The Eagle’s descent to the moon’s surface was meant to be controlled by a computer guidance system but Armstrong was forced to take over when it became clear that the landing site was littered with boulders, eventually landing safely on the Sea of Tranquility
    • Watched on televisions by 600 million people, Armstrong first set foot on the moon, where he began to take photos and gather samples of rock and soil
    • 20 minutes later, Aldrin also emerged onto the moon, carrying out experiments with the new sensation of weightlessness by running and jumping around
    • The men set up a US flag which they left on the moon, as well as a laser reflector to make measuring distances from earth easier, and gathered samples of the moon’s core
    • After 22 hours on the moon, the astronauts returned to the Command Module, allowing the Lunar Module to crash back to the moon
    • On July 24th, the craft returned to earth and the three astronauts landed in the Pacific Ocean, just off the coast of Hawaii, where they were greeted by President Nixon and then immediately quarantined
    • When it was determined that the astronauts were free from any unusual space diseases, they were released and greeted with a ticker-tape parade in New York and a tour of 24 countries to meet foreign dignitaries and speak on their experience
    • The mission had the largest TV audience in history, with even soldiers in Vietnam tuning in, and made the front page of all the major Western papers
    • The USSR tried to censor the news and China, Korea and Vietnam ignored the story completely
    • The Russian Communist Party featured the news on the front page of their paper, Pravda, but right at the bottom of the page
    • The story was reported by French Communist papers but the role of the US in the mission was never acknowledged

 

Apollo after the moon landing

    • After the moon landing, the Apollo programme sent 5 more manned missions to the moon, with the last being Apollo 17 in 1972
    • The Apollo 13 mission almost ended in tragedy when an oxygen tank on board exploded in the Command Module but the crew managed to safely return to earth in the Lunar Module