IMO what makes the Apollo 11 Moon landing so memorable were that humans were aboard. Over the last decade there have been many 50th anniversaries of robotic Moon landers, but they were either ignored or only briefly mentioned. While I will touch on some of the technical aspects of this mission, the predominate aspect that I wish to write about is the human efforts and the people that allowed Mankind to finally realize it's age old dream of flying to the Moon. Some of you are probably wondering why I started the Apollo 11 post a day before the mission started. The first and MOST important thing to remember about Apollo 11 is that it wasn't just 3 astronauts going to the Moon. It took a Nation (and Presidential and Congressional leadership) committed to the effort. At it's height in the mid-1960's, the NASA budget took up roughly 5% of the Government budget (just for comparisons sake, NASA's current budget is roughly one half of one percent of the US budget). While there was severe criticism at that time of this spending of the Nation's money, the driving impetus of the Cold War (hence the term, Space Race) kept the funds flowing. Aside from actually landing men on the Moon, it was a VERY good thing this money was spent on the space program. Because of the necessity of pushing the technological envelope new techniques, materials etc. were created that produced spin-offs that MASSIVELY increased the US' economic competitiveness. It's been a matter of academic debate since the Moon landings, but EVERYONE in the debate agrees that the US economy got FAR more back from the spending than the actual cost of the spending. It's agreed that, at a minimum, the long term effects on the increase in the economy were on the order 5 times the cost, with some people putting it as high as 10 times the cost. Most economists tend to put the increase in the economy at about 7 times the cost. This massive budget led to a work force on the Moon landing project of roughly 400,000 people. Without each of these people doing their portion of the project to the best of their abilities the landings would not have been successful. As mentioned, I'm interested in the human aspect of this mission. I have been lucky enough to meet many of the workers on the project, as well as many of the astronauts that flew on the missions. One of my favorites was a guy called Don Shields. I was lucky enough to spend many an hour with him working as volunteers at a space museum in Novato, CA., and having food and drinks afterwards. Don was an Air Force pilot who worked at Grumman, the builder of the lunar modules (LM). Specifically Don was the Grumman consulting pilot on LMs. He started with LM-2, which was universally recognized as having major issues. It eventually became the LM that is displayed in the National Air and Space Museum. Don then worked on LM-5, better known as Eagle. He trained Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on it's use, as well as being their interface with Grumman on what they would like with regards to LM-5. As Al Worden, the Command Module Pilot (CMP) of Apollo 15 once told me, "We (the astronauts) weren't nuts. We wanted to get home. We knew we were doing a risky job, but it was a calculated risk. We had hundreds of people like Don who helped to minimize the risk before we set foot in our spacecraft". On this day, July 15, 50 years ago today, Don's job was to inspect the Eagle nestled inside the third stage of the Apollo 11 Saturn V sitting on the launch pad, to make sure everything was shipshape. He was the last human to touch the Eagle while it was still on the Earth. Here's a link to an audio recording of Don talking about his job. It's about 25 minutes long. http://www.knowjournal.org/when/2013/07/01/lunar-exploration-memory Here's a pic celebrating some of Don's accomplishments.