tv Apollo 11 Astronaut Returns to the Launch Pad CSPAN August 20, 2019 11:22pm-11:49pm EDT
>> i am here with mike collins. is 50 years ago this morning but you, neil, and buz headed here to be the first human service step foot on the surface of the moon. was going through your mind on the launchpad? >> as i came out today and settled into this comfortable chair at is wonderful feeling to be back on the launchpad 39
a. i want to turn and ask a question. i am here by myself, but at any rate i know they would enjoy tuning into this conversation as much as i am looking forward to it. two did you find it different coming up for apollo 11?>> i think the flight of germany 10 and apollo are different in one way. that part was very similar, but the germany program got a lot of publicity. nonetheless it had more of a local character. it was almost like a celebrity sort of event like perhaps an off athletic contest.
apollo 11 was a serious business and we felt the weight of our world on our shoulders. we everyone would be looking at us friend or foe. we wanted to do the best we possibly could and put our best foot forward. that put a great deal of work on our part. not too much time left for any of the things we might have enjoyed.>> having the weight of the world on your shoulders, you guys went through an extent of the training. how did it prepare you for the mission? >> i think the simulators were the heart and soul of our training. they were very good machines. they were excellent duplicators of what we would see in flight. the one feeling is they couldn't duplicate the view out the window that we saw, but 99% of our work throwing switches,
and communicating with houston, 99% of our work we really didn't need to similar simulate the view out the window with great fidelity. the simulators were very powerful instruments. we spent a lot of time in them. i think i spent over 600 hours just preparing for apollo alone. >> what you find the most challenging?>> i always think a flight to the moon as being a long and fragile chain of events. links in that chain, certain points along the route have names for them like going faster to escape velocity and slowing
down and so forth. the point is, no matter how well things are going for you you can't just relax and pat yourself on the back and say is in this wonderful. for me at least maybe it might have been different from someone else, but for me at least the flight was a question of being under tension and worrying about what's coming next, what i have to do now to keep this dz chain and tax. >> you guys were down here supporting the vehicle processing, and your trading in simulators. he spent a lot of time in florida, was that a challenge for your families and how did the families react to you guys going to the moon? two different families reacted in different ways. the way it was with my family with three children who should
not be uprooted from their schools, my wife stayed in houston and i was by myself here. some cruise imported their family from texas to florida and that worked out well for them. use a different system and it worked out very well for us.>> ready chance to visit good quarters this morning. we were in the rooms where you stayed, did it bring back any memories? how long were you in quarantine for the flight? >> i don't know how long we were in quarantine before the flight. quarantined was sort of a bureaucratic stamp put on some piece of paper that didn't really change too much our normal training routine, and i think you are quarantine maybe two weeks? if there's a strain out there
i'm sure he or she will correct that number. >> did you get a chance to see and apollo launch prior to yours? >> i did see not and apollo saturn, but i saw the first saturn launch 501, and i will always remember it. with pretty good seats for that. we were about two and three miles away. which sounds like forever, when you look at saturn five you find out in a big hurry that you are pretty close to it. thing ignites and takes off. it's very quiet. it starts descending, and you look across the lagoon and you say is not a big deal. i've seen rockets go off before. then starts going and pick fixing picks up speed and looks
a little bit more impressive, but still nothing very exceptional, and then the shockwave from the rocket power hits you. your whole body is shaking. your feet underneath you are shaking in the mud and you think this is what they mean by power . this gives you a different feeling in a different concept of what power really means. you have to be there and have your belly shake before you can really evaluate a saturn 5. >> the first time you strapped in was not the first time? >> no, i don't think so. i think we'd been in the vehicle quite a number of times , going way back, at our command module, 107 i nursed it
through the assembly process in california so we were old friends and graciously i invited neil and buzz to come aboard under certain circumstances but, i invited them in when we had various exercises that prepared us to do separate duties after launch . >> i think we will get a video here we are coming up on the exact time of launch, let's take a look at the video that's coming up . >> a we have accomplished a successful mission, we landed men on the moon and return them safely . >> 20 seconds . >> 15 seconds. 12, 11, 10,9 ignition sequence start . >> four, three, two, one.
zero, lift off. apollo 11 was about exploration, about taking risks for great rewards in science and engineering about setting an ambitious goal before the world. >> for the first time in what man has as a flexibility are option of either walking this when it or some other planet, be it to the moon or i don't know where. i'm fully equipped to evaluate where that may lead us to we choose to go to the moon and do the other things.
perhaps, the highlight for those of us who thought this would be a successful touchdown, i really look forward to that at this time . >> so, does that bring back any memories? you talked about what it was like watching a saturn five launch, what did it feel like to ride the rocket? >> the feeling onboard after engine ignition is quite different than what you might imagine. if you watch it from a distance, it makes a stately ascent and you're quite aware of the gigantic power, 7 1/2 million pounds of thrust, but inside it's a different situation. inside, you are not
worried about your power so much as you are worried about your steering and you are suspended inside the kok, not to far away from the launch. as you lift off but if there's any imbalance, it's compensated for by the swiveling of the motors and, as you ascend slowly, majestically inside, is a different situation that you feel jiggling, left to right and you're not quite sure whether the jiggles are as big or small as they should be or how much closer they will put you to the launch tower which you do not very much want to hit at that moment. so, it's a totally different feeling at liftoff than the nervous novice driving of a white vehicle down a narrow
alley, then once you clear the tower and things smooth out a bit and you pick up speed, then it becomes more like you might imagine, watching it from afar. your more conscious of the gigantic amount of power below you, more conscious of the acceleration and speed that you are picking up, and then you soon find out that your machine failure saturn breaks apart into pieces. when it's finished with piece number one, it jettisons it and that gives you a momentary skyrocket. the kok it is immediately not full of fire or flames but the vision, the idea of the site of being surrounded by fire. when it gets through the pickup from then on it's a quieter and more
rational silent ride all the way to the moon . >> what does it feel like in the second stage? >> the second stage was a stage we worried about somewhat during the birth and genesis. we had designers and engineers that had difficulty but the second stage, we were leery about how ready was the second stage for a manned flight. but, it was perfect, smooth as glass, much smoother than the first or the third stage. so, it was our friend that day . >> awesome. so at the end of the video neil talked about being down on the surface of the moon. i know you've been asked to this many times before but i will ask it again, what was it like being all alone in the command module while neil and buzz were on the surface of the moon? >> you know, i was amazed that after the flight, oh by the way
we were locked up in quarantine after the flight with the huge colony of white mice so they were worried we might've brought back harmful pathogens from the moon and they wanted to keep everything under observation. i was always asked was and i the loneliest person in the whole only history of the whole lonely solar system when i was by myself in that lonely orbit? and the answer was, no. i felt fine. i had been flying airplanes by myself that was being aloft in a vehicle, that was no novelty. and i was trusting my surroundings and we had this complicated mission unfold but the time i was by myself, it
was perfectly enjoyable. i had hot coffee, music if i wanted it to good old command module columbia and every facility i needed and it was plenty big and i really enjoyed my time instead of being terribly lonely. it was not one iota lonely . >> did you guys feel like every time you had mission control communication, did you enjoy the brakes when you are unable to talk? >> yes, i thought it was kind of nice, the trip around the moon to 60 miles above the surface, that was my altitude. that's about a two hour deal of that because it's almost like your radio can see around corners. they can't quite but instead of being half of two hours it was more like 40 some minutes of
peace and quiet. i enjoyed the peace and quiet. mission control is our friends, our savior, our mentor. that they can also be a terrible nuisance, they want this that and another tidbit of information in minute by minute and hour by hour. so, to have a peaceful period of solitude was far from being terrifying, it was very pleasant, nice, easy and i enjoyed it . >> so, did you have the opportunity to fly again, did you choose to fly again or not fly again and would you have liked to walk on the moon? >> i was flying in a t 38 one time with my boss between houston and the cape and they said mike, i want to plug you in and i called it the knit to perl 1, you went forward, ding ding and popped up the prime and so forth. so, what he was saying
fundamentally is he was offering, as i interpreted it to be the commander of apollo 17 and, i said to him, listen, if this doesn't work out where we screw something up or something goes wrong, when you come back i'll be knocking on your door. but if everything goes as it supposed to on apollo 11, i'm out of here. and, the reason i made that decision to leave was composed of various aspects, primarily involving the long interval. another three years i would figure in my life, three years of living in dingy motels in strange places trying to learn new things. i didn't find that
to rosie of the future. i was going to be separated from my family with young children and a wife who had been wonderful including an up to apollo 11. i would be expected to go through that whole rigmarole again and that didn't seem fair so i put all the things together and said hey, i didn't say i'm out of here but he understood, he didn't question and that's where it was . >> i still think one of the best books was your book carrying the fire. is there any epilogue that you would add to it today? anything you would add to the original book? >> i would have to go back to reread it. i remember rereading
it a few times after it was published i think it was published in 1974 or something like that. i like the interval between 69 and 74 because it gave me a few years to stop and think about things and what i wanted to say. and yet, it was close enough that i hadn't quite lost the memory, the detailed memories of these various components of the flight to the moon. but, in addition to it, i think today there would be a number of additions that i would add and one would be the business of where do we go from here and that is the fascinating question and i would address that if i were to do a retake of carrying the fire .
>> would we go from here, that's a great lead-in. i'm a product of the apollo generation but we have a lot of folks on planet earth that weren't even alive back that and were trying to create the artemis generation to return to the men and get the first woman and next man on the moon in 2024. what you think about the path forward? >> well, i love the word artemis for the twin apollo, it's a wonderful name. this is more important than a name, is a wonderful concept. i think women can do anything men can do to perhaps even do it better. so, i think that artemis, i like that, i like it. roll it around on the tongue and turn it over and think about it. but i don't want to go back to the moon i want to go direct to mars i want to call it the jfk mars express, john f. kennedy gave us the apollo express and
that was a wonderful masterpiece of understatement and sustained instructions. what kennedy said helped us so much in our preparation for the first lunar landing that i can't emphasize too much. wherever we went we would use kennedy's name, you guys have got to get busy, you're lagging behind, kennedy said, the end of the decade and i like to transfer that spirit from where we are to where we might go. i would propose going direct to mars. diagram people who want to go back to the moon, i grant that they have a great deal of merit to their argument and, neil armstrong who i consider to be a lot better engineer than i thought that there were
gaps in our knowledge and, that we could fill up those by returning to the moon in our attempt to go to mars. so, we believe the faster we get to the moon the faster we get to mars as we develop the systems to make that happen . >> you mention neil, i wish buz were with us and we've lost one of your crew permanently, what are your thoughts good you have fond memories of neil that you'd like to share? what you think you would say if you were here with us today? >> the neil that i usually talk about when people ask me that question is not neil flying to them in our back although he did a superlative job as a group commander, no complaints there, but i think of neil the spokesperson for three men who were privileged to go around
the world after the flight of apollo 11 and explain to the world what it was all about what neil thought it was all about. he was a masterful speaker, he was an introverted person and didn't want to grab the microphone if he didn't want the microphone thrust in front of him but he could use it to wonderful advantage. he was very intelligent, he had an extremely wide background of knowledge, scientific knowledge , historical knowledge really probably more than scientific but both. the history of technology fascinated him and, on our trip around the world time after time , other spokesman he would make
a speech, i'm so glad to be in your city here, let me quick check and see what city i'm in right now, and, he would have the audience just feeling like they almost all the board columbia with us by the time he was through his speech. it was wonderful in that regard. i think he was the perfect man of the group that i knew, i think there were probably 30 of us and be first man i like the other 29. but, of that group, i think neil was the perfect choice and i'm glad they had the smarts to set aside also . >> i couldn't agree with you more, he's one of the finest gentlemen i've ever met but not to be surpassed by you. it's been a true privilege and an honor on the 50th anniversary, thank you so much for everything and i wish you the best . >> bob, thank you.
the operation you run here is so much more complex in many ways than what we had during apollo, i salute you and your ability to bring all of these pieces together into one successful future for nasa. well, thank you sir. the call weekly feature american history tv programs is a preview of what is available every weekend on cspan-3. lectures, history, american artifacts, real america , the civil war, oral history the presidency and special event coverage about our nations history. enjoy american history tv now and every weekend on cspan-3. a weeknights this month we feature american history tv programs is a preview of what is available every weekend on cspan-3. wednesday night, we continue our look at apollo 11 starting with walk one, 1970 feature documentary about the
mission commission by nasa. the film covers free lift up preparations for parades to the astronauts after their safe return with rarely seen space footage and scenes from around the world is full watched man's first steps on the moon. enjoy american history tv this weekend every weekend on cspan-3 . >> i retired nasa flight director and manager serving as flight director during the gemini and apollo programs including one apollo 11 astronauts landed on the moon and directed the mission control efforts to save the crew of apollo 13. in this interview, he talked about the apollo missions . >> apollo 11, the lunar landing