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[b]Apollo 11 Diary[/b]
By David Chudwin, M.D.
July 16, 1969: After seeing the crew walk-out, ran back to the press bus where we were caught up in a major traffic jam on way to the VAB. Hundreds of cars just crawling.
Went to the Press Site, 3.5 miles from Pad 39, to look around (Fig. 13). There is a grandstand with hundreds of reporters, with more milling around in front.
We decide to watch the launch from the VIP site with hundreds of invited celebrities. [Apollo 11 was like the Super Bowl of space. It seemed like anyone who had anything to do with the program was there as guests of NASA or the major contractors. These guests ranged from Hermann Oberth, one of the fathers of spaceflight, to astronauts, leading politicians, military leaders, and even entertainers.]
In the bleachers or walking around we saw, among others, L.B.J. (President Johnson) (Fig. 14), (Gov. Lester) Maddox, (Sen. William) Proxmire, (Sen. Barry) Goldwater, Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon (Fig. 15), Cernan, Stafford, Anders, Haise, (Vice President) Agnew. They sat on bleachers, we watched from the grass in front of them. Although the Saturn V is 363 feet tall, it looks small in the distance across the scrub grass.
At 9:32 a.m. a speck of orange flame appeared precisely on time at the bottom of the Saturn V rocket. (Fig. 16) As its five engines lit up, two mammoth sheet of smoke and flame shot out laterally from under both sides of the booster. For what seemed like an eternity the rocket just sat there, a huge firecracker 3.5 miles off in the distance (Fig. 17)
Agonizingly slowly, the Saturn V and its precious cargo began to rise, a brilliant yellow-orange flame blasting from its base. (Fig. 18) As the booster cleared the launch tower, the noise began to reach us, silencing our cheers.
Repeated loud roars from the rocket buffeted us again and again as it climbed on its course. We could physically feel the crackling sound hitting our chests. The rocket kept gaining speed. After a minute or two, the rocket rose into the clouds and all that could be seen was a small dot of flame in the blue sky. Soon even that was gone.
An eight-day odyssey to the surface of the Moon had begun. [To be continued.]
The Press Site at the Kennedy Space Center before the launch of Apollo 11 on July 16,1969.
Fig. 14. President Lyndon B. Johnson at the VIP Site at Kennedy Space Center on the morning of July 16, 1969. The former president is leaning over to talk to someone. Gen. William Westmoreland is also visible on the upper left of the grandstand.
Fig. 15. Entertainers Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon sitting in the grandstand of the VIP Site before the Apollo 11 launch. They are center, with Carson wearing a neckscarf and McMahon sunglasses.
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