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Man on the Moon
Today marks the day in 1969 of the landing of Apollo 11 on the Moon, the first time humans set foot on another celestial body. Astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, Mission Commander, and Edwin E. "Buzz" Aldrin, Lunar Module Pilot, landed their Lunar Module, "Eagle", on the Moon's Sea of Tranquility while Mike Collins, Command Module Pilot, orbited overhead in the command ship "Columbia". Three hours after touchdown, Armstrong opened "Eagle"'s hatch, and climbed down the ladder, his spacesuited form looking truly other-worldly in a ghostly black-and-white TV image beamed to millions of viewers on Earth. He then stepped off the LM and on to the moon with the famous words, "That's one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind." Shortly thereafter, Aldrin joined him on the lunar surface, and the two astronauts planted the U.S. flag, deployed scientific instruments, and listened to a congratulatory call from President Nixon. After a moonwalk lasting 2 1/2 hours, Armstrong and Aldrin returned to the LM and blasted off the Moon's surface the following day, rejoining Collins in orbit. The three men of Apollo 11 returned successfully to Earth, splashing down in the Pacific Ocean on 24 July, 1969 to conclude one of the great historic voyages of exploration.

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"Hood" and "Bismarck"
This marks the 71st anniversiary of the World War II Atlantic battle and sinking of the British battlecruiser HMS "Hood" by the German battleship "Bismarck" on 24 May 1941 sinking of "Bismarck" by ships of the Royal Navy on 27 May 1941. "Hood" lost all but 3 men of her crew of over 1,400, with the last survivor, Ted Briggs, dying in 2008. "Bismarck" lost around 2000 of her crew, with only 115 survivors, 112 of whom spent the rest of the war as POWs of the British. "Bismarck"'s wreck was located in 1989 by Robert Ballard, the same man who found "Titanic", 600 miles west of France, 15,000 feet down, 3000 feet deeper than "Titanic", and remarkably intact after the horrible pounding she took from the British in her last battle. "Hood" was found in 2001 under 12,000 feet of water between Iceland and Greenland, blown apart in 3 pieces from the enormous explosion of "Bismarck"'s 15-inch shells detonating the British ship's ammunition magazines, which accounted for the loss of nearly her entire crew. Ted Briggs came out to the ship leading the expedition to find the "Hood' and placed a memorial plaque by remote control next to "Hood"'s bow section to remember all of his shipmates who died there. Later, a plaque was also placed on "Bismarck"'s wreck in honor of the all the German sailors who died. Quite a tragedy in a senseless war, for certain.

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First Man in Space
I am a couple days late with this, but April 12, 2012 marks the 51st anniversiary of the flight of Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space back in 1961. Saying, "Let's go!" as he lifted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome in the former Soviet Republic of Kazakhstan, 27-year old Soviet Air Force pilot Gagarin, in his spacecraft Vostok 1, made a single orbit of Earth, where he radioed back his observations of Earth, and his physical condition during prolonged weightlessness. After a harrowing re-entry back into the atmosphere where his craft's service module remained attached to his crew capsule before the connecting straps burned away, Gagarin ejected from his spacecraft and parachuted safely to the ground near Engels, Russia, while the Vostok landed separately by its own chute in a flight lasting 108 minutes. His flight was a propaganda victory for the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War with the U.S., beating by three weeks American astronaut Alan Shepard into space with his 15-minute suborbital flight on May 5. Had Shepard flown before Gagarin, it is possible President John F. Kennedy might not have set the goal of the USA landing a man on the Moon before 1970 in his speech before Congress on May 25, 1961, and the Space Race might have turned out slightly different.

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