On 20 July 1969, Mr Neil Armstrong famously said, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Along with Messrs Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, the crew of Apollo 11 had successfully, for the first time ever, landed man on the Moon. It took a decade of tests and training, a staff of 400,000 engineers and scientists, a budget of billions and the most powerful rocket ever launched to answer President John F Kennedy’s call for a manned Moon landing by the end of the 1960s.
Half a century ago, this was the stuff of science fiction – an achievement that was nothing short of a miracle. Today, the feat is just as incredible. “Nowadays, there is more computing power in my fridge than there is in the machines that managed to take the astronauts up in Apollo 11,” writes Mr Colum McCann in his introductory essay to MoonFire: The Epic Journey Of Apollo 11, written by iconic American author and journalist Mr Norman Mailer.
Originally penned on assignment for LIFE Magazine – and published in 1970 as the book Of A Fire On The Moon – Mr Mailer’s philosophical account of the Apollo 11 mission has been updated to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Moon shot. Capturing the atmosphere of the time and the heroic feats of the astronauts that made history, Mr Mailer’s prose has been augmented with hundreds of photographs and maps from the Nasa vaults, as well as contributions from leading Apollo 11 experts. Here are three facts about the Moon landing that may have eluded you (until now).