Apollo 11 at 50: A Salute to the Moon Landing
July 10, 2019
With a half-Earth in the background, the Lunar Module ascent stage with Moon-walking astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin Jr. approaches for a rendezvous with the Apollo Command Module manned by Michael Collins. The Apollo 11 liftoff from the Moon came early, ending a 22-hour stay on the Moon by Armstrong and Aldrin. (Photos by NASA and CNS.)
Half century ago, Houstonians joined millions across the world, including St. Paul VI, in witnessing a landmark event: the Apollo 11 moon landing.
That legendary day, July 20, 1969, would change Houston, and the world beyond.
Houston would become the iconic Space City. The Astros, The Comets, The Rockets, The Dynamo; all Houston's pro sports teams would eventually reflect that space flight.
But on that day, when Neil Armstrong, Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin and Michael Collins approached the Moon, the three NASA astronauts were speaking directly to Houston.
Then, after the collective effort of thousands successfully launched the crew to the Moon, the astronauts reached the Moon. And touch down.
"Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed," Armstrong said into his radio.
The crew at Mission Control at NASA's Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston's Bay Area responded: "Roger, Tranquility, we copy you on the ground. You've got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We're breathing again. Thanks a lot."
Like those at Mission Control, the millions watching on television - including the pope himself - could breathe a sigh of relief.
In the July 9 issue of the Texas Catholic Herald, we salute the effort of those who worked to send man to the Moon, as well as recall major historic moments in Houston's NASA history, explore the Catholic Church's history with science and faith, the nightly work of the Vatican Observatory and look forward to the future in space exploration. We also continue digital-only coverage of the #Apollo50 anniversary here online at www.archgh.org/tch.
INSIDE THIS ISSUE
- Land on the moon? Let’s live on the moon, says former NASA flight director Gene Kranz
This story explores some of Gene Kranz's history with NASA, the legend who vaulted to international fame thanks to the 1995 Apollo 13 film that featured Kranz's iconic role in the moon shoot mission. Kranz, a lifelong Catholic and Houston-area parishioner, will also speak at the 2019 Archdiocesan Prayer Breakfast on July 30.
- What happens when a Catholic goes to space? Astronaut-parishioners at St. Paul in Nassau Bay know the answer
This story by Herald correspondent Jim Townsend reveals the lengthy history of Catholics in space, especially the parish life at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church in Nassau Bay, the Catholic church located closest to NASA's Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center. Many long-time parishioners have spent lifetimes at both the JSC and St. Paul's parish.
- As it is in Heaven: Understanding the grim realities of space flight
There's reason behind the apprehension behind space travel. After the Challenger and Columbia space shuttle explosions, the fear behind manned space flight became more real than ever, with many finding refuge in Catholic churches in the area.
- 50 years on, moon landing still inspires wonder
As half-a-century of time rapidly draws to a close, the memory of the Apollo 11 moon landing still is very clear to many in the Houston area, and around the nation.
- Signs of Apollo: Vatican Observatory shows Church’s long history with the moon
At the Vatican Observatory in Castel Gandolfo near Rome, Brother Robert Macke, S.J., finds his work as the Curator of Meteorites for the Vatican Observatory — formally founded in 1891 by Pope Leo XIII — allows him to, as the Jesuit saying goes, “find God in all things.”
- ISS, can you hear me? Popes link Church’s ties to science, research
Twice Daniel Cardinal DiNardo has made the trip down to NASA's Johnson Space Center to view a live satellite link call with astronauts aboard the International Space Station. With dozens of others, he witnessed two popes have a live conversation with astronauts.
- St. Paul VI hailed Apollo 11 astronauts as "conquerors of the moon"
Just minutes after Apollo lunar module shiny foil feet touched down on the surface of the moon, St. Paul VI sent the following message from his Observatory at Castel Gandolfo, near Rome where he was watching the landing and viewing the moon from the Vatican’s telescopes, to the astronauts
- Catching the stars: Houston Passionist priest and astrophotographer captures heavenly views
Sometimes Father Joe Barbieri, C.P., finds himself in the dead of night, surrounded by silence in prayer as the stars and planets twirl above him, far above the Earth — light years, actually — then he clicks the shutter button. Another image of the celestial skies. Then another. Then another. Eventually, he can piece the images together to fashion the earthly view of galaxies hundreds of thousands of light years away.
- Earthrise: Behind the iconic image of our home
On Dec. 24, 1968, NASA astronaut Bill Anders orbited the moon as the lunar module pilot with the Apollo 8 crew on humanity’s first voyage to another world. Anders took the iconic Earthrise photo on Christmas Eve, a gift of perspective in a turbulent year.
- Mapping with the stars: Nuns instrumental in Vatican celestial survey
Of the many momentous or menial tasks women religious perform, read how one of the better-kept secrets has been the role of four Sisters of the Holy Child Mary who were part of a global effort to make a complete map and catalog of the starry skies.
- Column - ADAMS: The Moon landing, science and faith
"Each generation has a special event or moment which can shape its understanding of their world. For me, one of those events is about to celebrate its 50th anniversary!" writes Randy Adams of the Office of Adolescent Catechesis and Evangelization.
- Column - MORENO: St. John Paul II - Faith and reason are united
It’s been nearly 21 years since the promulgation of the landmark encyclical “Fides et Ratio” by now St. John Paul II. Juan Carlos Moreno of the Archdiocesan Office of Evangelization and Catechesis discusses the pope's teaching of how "Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth."