July 17, 1969: Halfway to the moon



The Translunar Insertion (TLI) burn of the Saturn third stage sending us toward the moon is a day behind,

the long launch day capped when we separated from the spent stage and performed Transposition and Docking,

turning around and nosing to the Lunar Module in its “garage” atop the third stage and springing it free.


Twenty six hours from Earth,

already halfway to the moon,

a misleading measure.  The powerful grip

of Earth’s gravity had already reduced

the spacecraft’s speed from 24,200 mph

after TLI to just 3,689 mph, a celestial crawl

and still slowing — meaning we are still

two days out from LOI, lunar orbit insertion.


22:00  GET:  Post Sleep Checklist

              Crew status report (sleep)

                      Cycle O2 & H2 fans.

                           GDC align to IMU

                                 Consumables update

                                       Select normal Lunar configuration


MNVR to sighting ATT

             Cislunar navigation P23

              Optics calibration

                   3 marks on each star

                    Incorporate P23 mark data

                     and update onboard state vector

Transfer CSM state vector to LM slot


TLI + 24 hrs.  Midcourse correction 2 

                        MCC2 will be performed if delta V would exceed

                         25 FPS if delayed to MCC3 (LOI – 22 hrs.)


MCC2 Burn status report

            V66 – trans CSM state vector to LM slot



Less than an hour after crossing the halfway point,

we fire the Service Module’s SPS engine

for the first time, the big engine that will be needed

to place us in lunar orbit and out again,

just a 2.91 second course correction,

but enough to prove the SPS is “go.”


During a TV broadcast, Michael Collins, says

‘We have a happy home.

Plenty of room for the three of us.

We’re all finding our favorite little corners.’


Out ahead of Apollo, the mysterious Luna 15 enters lunar orbit.




In a blink


A swirl of cloud

. . . . circle a closed eye

A swirl of stars

. . . .  sweep the space far ahead

A swarm of bees

. . . . carry their queen

and trail Apollo 11

. . . . toward the moon

They mass at Columbia’s great engine bell

. . . . and gather moonlight in their legs


Fifty years later, rain

. . . . masked a full moon


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