“Amiable Strangers”

Three distinct personalities, one goal: reach the moon.


Saturn V


The Apollo 11 astronauts walk past the base of the mammoth Saturn V rocket in early June, a few weeks before it propelled them to the moon. In the foreground, Bill Schick, Apollo Test Conductor, leads the crew around the launch pad during a walk-through emergency egress test. Armstrong would later tell biographer James Hansen, “In the first stage, the Saturn V noise was enormous, particularly when we were at low altitude because we got the noise from seven and a half million pounds of thrust plus the echo of that noise off the ground that reinforced it. After about thirty seconds, we flew out of that echo noise and the volume went down substantially. But in that first thirty seconds it was very difficult to hear anything over the radio—even inside the helmet with the earphones. It was considerably louder than the Titan. In the first stage, it was also a lot rougher ride than the Titan. It seemed to be vibrating in all three axes simultaneously.”

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