"HOUSTON, TRANQUILITY BASE, THE EAGLE HAS LANDED."

WHAT REALLY HAPPENED TO APOLLO 11
Jerry Woodfill, NASA Apollo 11 Warning System Engineer


Click here to play movie clip of first foot step on Moon
from NASA's SPACE EDUCATORS' HANDBOOK site, created by Jerry Woodfill

"...1201 Program Alarm..." acknowledged flight controller Steve Bales. "Is this alarm real?" I wondered. "If so, my warning system might be responsible for aborting man's first lunar landing attempt." Knowing Neil Armstrong and Aldrin had seen the Master Alarm's light and heard its audible warning tone, I could not recall what failure initiated a 1201 computer alarm. "Why hadn't I been more thorough?" I fretted. "What outcome would a lunar descent abort have for NASA, the Apollo 11 crew, and especially, ME?" But ensuing events not only kept my career in tact but also revealed dramatic evidence of God's intervention. While many would deem the following story as simply "circumstantial evidence," specific correlation with scripture, acts of worship, prayer, and praise make a convincing case for success coming largely as a work of God's grace.

THE 1201 PROGRAM ALARM

Often those at the Manned Spacecraft Center who flew, designed, or controlled the Apollo spacecraft spoke of "destiny" as responsible for their role in putting men on the Moon. The Bible speaks of God "answering before we call...and even acting as we are praying." As Steve Bales later shared, "Though flight control training had simulated lunar landings for years, I only recall seeing a descent 1201 Program Alarm three weeks before the July 20th, 1969 landing." Steve, simply, reacted in the same fashion as in the "sim," treating it as a nuisance rather than an abort threat. He thought it remarkable to have been so thoroughly warned of an event that came to pass. Though the program alarm sounded five times, Steve made the right call: "Ignore it and land." As a result, President Nixon presented Steve the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Neil Armstrong became the first man on the Moon, and my name did not go down in infamy as responsible for an abort caused by a nuisance alarm.

Nearly thirty years have passed, yet I continue to reflect on God's revelation that July 20th afternoon in 1969. In Bible times, a man named Stephen looked heavenward and "saw Jesus sitting at the right hand of God..." It was Stephen (Steve) Bales, a practicing Christian, who also looked heavenward some 230,000 plus miles via his telemetry monitor. Whereas, the biblical Stephen's life was aborted by stoning, Apollo 11's mission experienced no abort. Yet, in both cases, Christ's plans and purposes benefited. Was it providence that placed flight controller Bales so crucially? Steve's surname is derived from the same origin as the English word "bailiff." We know the bailiff from our court system as the person who "admits" one into the court as a gatekeeper.

Originally, the bailiff allowed entry across a watery moat onto castle grounds. Certainly, Steve's naming speaks to his role as the lunar gatekeeper who granted entry from orbit onto the Moon's surface.

Additionally, I've reflected on the sounding of the Program Alarm, not once, but FIVE TIMES. Throughout scripture, five has denoted God's grace in the sense that He acted in behalf of the praying faithful. Did not David encounter Goliath with five stones? Was not the faithful steward given five talents? Were there not five porches for healing at the Pool of Bethesda? Did not the Program Alarm sound five times? The old 1887 hymnal lyric says it well..."safe and and secure from ALL ALARMS...leaning on the everlasting arms."

Copyright 1999, JRWIV INTERESTS


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