SPACE WEEK: On the fourth day of the Apollo 11 mission, the spacecraft entered orbit around the moon.

July 19, 1969

A close-up view of the Sea of Fertility on the lunar surface from the window of Columbia during the fourth live television transmission made from the Apollo 11 spacecraft during its second orbit of the moon on July 19, 1969. (Image source: NASA)

On the fourth day of the Apollo 11 mission, the crew needed to fire the engine of the Service Module to put the spacecraft into orbit around the moon. This lunar orbital insertion maneuver was required to take place on the far-side of the moon, out of contact with Mission Control. The 357.5 second burn of the rocket motor went perfectly, placing Apollo 11 into an elliptical lunar orbit of 69 by 190 miles. Later, a second burn of the Service Module rocket for 17 seconds changed that orbit to 62 by 70.5 miles.

The crew also did another live TV broadcast from their two docked spacecraft from lunar orbit. With the moon so close, attention was focused on the next day when the Lunar Module Eagle would separate from the Command Module Columbia and land on the Moon’s surface.

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