Apollo 11 People

CapCom &
Ground Crew

Astronauts were just the tip of the pyramid:
An introduction to other key figures

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The success of the Apollo 11 mission in July 1969 relied on more than just the three astronauts who journeyed to space

Sending humans to the Moon drew on the contributions of hundreds of thousands of people on Earth

At its peak, the Apollo program employed 400,000 people and was supported by more than 20,000 industrial firms and universities

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Each mission relied on a team of flight directors, an entire backup crew of astronauts, and fully trained astronauts who would provide extra eyes and ears on the ground, many of them working at Mission Control in Houston, Texas

Gene Kranz was flight director during the Apollo 11 lunar landing

Kranz oversaw the planning and approval of all procedures used during the landing, and managed the team in Mission Control

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As the astronauts landed on the Moon in 1969, Kranz was sitting with astronaut Charles Duke in Mission Control. “I don’t think any of us breathed for that last 60 seconds,” Kranz later said.

Four astronauts served as the capsule communicator, or CapCom. Each took his turn being the constant point of contact between the astronauts and Mission Control (clockwise from top left): Charles Duke, Bruce McCandless, Ron Evans, and Owen Garriott.

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It was vital that CapComs had been through the same training as the astronauts on the mission and knew each step of the operations inside out

Charles Duke

Personally requested by Armstrong for the momentous lunar landing

CapCom Bruce McCandless

While the astronauts walked on the Moon and Collins orbited alone

Ron Evans

For the launch of the lunar module back into orbit

Owen Garriott

During critical docking maneuvers

The mission included a backup crew, ready to step in if Armstrong, Collins, or Aldrin had been unable to participate in the mission: Commander James A. Lovell, Command Module Pilot William A. Anders, and Lunar Module Pilot Fred Haise