TWO Spanish technicians have spoken about their time working for NASA on the Apollo 11 Moon landing ahead of the release of a film based on the mission.
Carlos Gonzalez and Jose Manuel Grandela both worked at the Fresnedillas de la Oliva tracking station in the Madrid region in the 1960’s.
Both were there during the Apollo 11 mission in 1969 and Gonzalez controlled its communications.
Gonzalez and Grandela both recently attended an event at the Astrobiology Centre in the Madrid region held to mark the premiere of The First Man.
The film, starring Ryan Gosling as first man on the Moon Neil Armstrong, dramatises the Apollo 11 mission and is set to be released next year for its 50th anniversary.
Gonzalez said he and Grandela had a privileged position because they could listen to conversations between the Apollo 11 crew and mission control in Houston before anyone else.
Both were the first people to hear Armstrong confirm he and Buzz Aldrin had touched down on the Moon with the words: “The eagle has landed”.
Gonzalez said Armstrong wanted to step onto the Moon no matter what happened and added he remembered an exchange between the astronaut and Houston when told he had to wait.
“I’ve been preparing for this for years, I’ve travelled 400,000 kilometres, I’ve gone down to the Moon with certain difficulties and now you tell me I have to sleep?” Gonzalez remembered Armstrong saying.
“Houston had proposed to abort the mission but Armstrong took semiautomatic control and with Buzz Aldrin giving him altitude and speed data he landed with about 30 seconds’ worth of fuel to spare,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez added he also remembered Armstrong asking how he had managed to stumble on his way out of the lunar module despite practising 300 times on Earth.
Grandela, who was 23 at the time, said the mission was an important step in the Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union.
“The mission unleashed an avalanche of innovations in engineering, informatics, materials and fuels from which all of humanity is benefitting today,” he said.