This year marks 50 years since Apollo 11 carried Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins to the moon.

At the time of its blast off, Apollo 11 contained some of the most cutting edge technology available on the planet.

While it may be dated now, Apollo 11s technological feats are still as impressive today as they were back then, from the hand-stitched walkable spacesuits to the lunar module itself.

Here we take a look at some of the technology that made it all possible:


There were several modes of transportation that NASA could have chosen to take to the moon, but it was lunar-orbit that made the Saturn V rocket possible.

NASA engineers proposed the concept over the years, but one of the most famous is John Hoboult, then the assistant chief of the dynamics load division at NASA Langley.

NASA said the main benefit of the approach was the lunar lander only had to be a small craft, since an Earth orbit rendezvous required more fuel to get back home.

The decision to go with this kind of mission made it possible to launch the entire mission on a single Saturn V rocket.

Despite being a more modest rocket, it still stood 363 feet tall — taller than the Statue of Liberty — and fully fuelled, it weighed about 6.2 million pounds.




The lunar module (LM) was the first spacecraft designed to operate on another world.

Unlike a spacecraft made to function in the atmosphere the LM was all strange angles and bumps. This is because in space, there would be no atmosphere to worry about.

Cutting the aerodynamic features helped save weight, cutting down the costs of launching the spacecraft all the way to the moon.

The LM was first tested with humans on Apollo 9, which dubbed its spacecraft “Spider.” The astronauts flew it away from the command module – which was designed to orbit the moon – and practised a docking. The LM then flew on every subsequent mission.




The humble computer played a big part in ensuring Apollo 11’s success.

While the Apollo missions are best remembered for the computers the astronauts operated, there were several other important computers used for the mission.

The Saturn V computer was used to guide the rocket into Earth orbit, automatically, while NASA also had large computers on the ground that it could use for things like navigation corrections.

On lunar missions, however, the bulk of the attention was focused on the command module computer and the lunar module computers. The CM was in charge of navigating the crew between the Earth and the moon, while the LM did landings, ascents and rendezvous, according to NASA.

Modern microchips descend from integrated circuits used in the Apollo Guidance Computer.



Unlike the space shuttle’s spacesuit, each Apollo suit was custom-tailored for its astronaut crew of three people.

The suits were designed to be fully operational in the vacuum of space and also to walk around on the moon.

According to NASA, each mission required 15 suits. The main crew had nine suits between them, with one used for flight, one for training and one as a back-up in case something happened with the flight suit. The backup crew of three people required six suits between them: one for flight and one for training.

The construction of the spacesuit changed over the missions as the requirements of astronauts became more complex.



NASA and the Apollo 11 landing helped to inspire and develop legions of technology we use today.

Power drills and vacuum cleaners use technology designed to drill for moon samples whole the valuable CAY scanner was first used to find imperfections in space components.

Home insulation uses reflective material that protects spacecraft from radiation while memory foam was created for aircraft seats to soften landings.
Teeth-straightening is even less embarrassing thanks to transparent ceramic brace brackets made from spacecraft materials.

Everything from joysticks to scratch resistant lenses, shoe insoles, smoke detectors, swimsuits and water filters are space spin-offs inspired by technology developed for space exploration.