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Article 3 (Aug 2019): Brave hearts: Moon landing by the beat

August 28, 2019

It is 1969, on the Saturn V launch pad, as three astronauts sit atop a 300-foot rocket loaded with a liquid hydrogen bomb.
The average resting heart rate for adults is between 60 and 100 beats per minute.  Sitting on the bomb, the astronauts are barely disturbed. Commander Neil Armstrong's heart rate rises to 110 beats per minute.  Lunar Module Pilot Buzz Aldrin's heart beats at a cool 88 and Command Module Pilot Michael Collins at 99.
At critical points in the mission, Armstrong registers some accelerated heart beats, although Collins and Aldrin are utterly calm.

  • 17 hours after launch, in space, sleeping: Astronaut heart beats in the 40s
  • Slipping into the moon’s gravitational field on the dark side of the moon: Armstrong, 106; Aldrin, 70; Collins, 66
  • While approaching the lunar surface: Armstrong, 75 beats
  • Critical manual Lunar Module Eagle descent, as fuel runs out: Armstrong, 150
  • Module touchdown: Armstrong, 150
  • Armstrong stepping out of the Lunar Module: 125
  • On the moon's surface, vigorously loading boxes stuffed with rocks onto the Lunar Module: Armstrong, 160
  • Back in Eagle, on the moon’s surface, dozing: 45 to mid-50s
  • Lift off from the moon: Armstrong, in the 80s at the go order; 120 at engine ignition
  • Two days from home, the Eagle is in orbit around Earth: Armstrong, 247.  It's an error caused by the adhesive on his heart patch sensor drying out.  Everyone laughs.

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