NASA’s Apollo 11 mission
benefited from perhaps the greatest confluence of talent and bleeding edge technology ever assembled. This massive team managed to put Neil Armstrong on the moon, but it still had to wrestle with that great enemy of all explorers— the unknown. Despite the most comprehensive and arduous testing possible, there could be no guarantees.
Our guide through this story is Don Shields, an accomplished Air Force Jet Pilot who learned the term "Lunar Excursion Module" during his first day on the job at the aerospace firm, Northrop Grumman. Shields worked on LEM 2, as the second Lunar Module was known, but our story picks up just after LEM 2 was retired. After that, it was Shield's good fortune to be assigned to LEM 5, the Lunar Module that went all the way.
is the Executive Editor of Know Journal.