Posted by David Martin on Oct 20, 2019
Bruce McKenzie introduced our speaker and fellow Rotarian Ron Blilie, who talked about the landing on the moon in 1969. In addition to being a highly sought after flight instructor, Ron has some first hand experience as part of the team of engineers on the Apollo missions who helped get the first man on the moon.
The strategy that was developed was the Lunar Orbit Rendezvous, where a main spacecraft and smaller lunar lander travel to lunar orbit.   The lunar lander then independently descends to the moon, completes the mission, and then returns to lunar orbit to rendezvous and re-dock with the main spacecraft.
A simulator was developed to test what it would be like to land on the moon, which has just 1/6 the gravitational force of the earth. Over one hundred test flights were performed at Edwards Air Force Base in California, and the design was gradually refined to achieve the final spacecraft that went to the moon. There were some close calls along the way in testing, with Neil Armstrong having to eject once from the simulator.
The lunar lander was designed so that a computer would guide the actual landing on the moon, but in all six flights, the astronauts guided the craft in manually. On the first mission to the moon, the proposed landing site was missed slightly, and Neil Armstrong saw boulders the size of VWs, so he manually guided the lunar lander to the surface.
Thank you, Ron, for your work on the missions, and for sharing your story.