July 15, 1969 : T-Minus one day and counting for liftoff -- to the Moon
It was July 15, 1969 -- T-minus one day and counting.
Americans prepared to witness the most awe-inspiring adventure of their lifetimes.
The following day three of their fellow citizens would depart the pull of Earth with one goal in mind: to plant the first human footsteps on the surface of the Moon.
By now you know them well : Ohioan Neil Armstrong, “Buzz” Aldrin and Michael Collins.
“Apollo Poised for Moon Shot – Launch Set for 9:32 Wednesday” announced the front- page headline of the July 15 Middletown Journal.
“The three astronauts are ready to fly to the Moon,” the accompaying article reported. “They say they are not afraid. They are confident their spaceship and training will see them through.
“The rocket that will vault them is receiving the final servicing for liftoff at 9:32 a.m. EDT Wednesday (July 16),” it continued.
Ohioan Neil Armstrong appeared unfazed by the daunting challenge awaiting the trio.
“The three of us have no fear of launching out on this expedition,” said Armstrong, who was “set to become Earth’s first messenger on the Moon. I’m sure that American ingenuity and American craftsmanship have given us the best equipment that can be made available. We are happy to be ready to fly.’
The article reported that Armstrong and Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin, who was to follow Armstrong down the steps of the landing craft, and Michael Collins, “who will orbit overhead awaiting their return,” had appeared the previous day at a televised news conference.
‘...Not far away, bathed in floodlights like the pampered star it is, stood the 363-foot-tall Saturn 5 rocket that will propel them onto the journey dreamed of perhaps since man first walked the Earth...,” the article continued.
‘...If everything goes well, they will lift after a 22-hour stay -- loaded up with up to 130 pounds of Moon dirt -- and return to Earth July 21.
“’I wouldn’t say fear is an unknown emotion to us,” said Armstrong. ‘Fear is a characteristic particularly of a knowledge that there may be something that you haven’t thought of and feel you might be unable to cope with.
‘Our training and all the work that goes into preparation for flight does everything it can toward erasing those kind of possibilities...”
For Journal readers and the rest of the country, the countdown had already begun.