Forty-six years ago today, Apollo 11 landed on the moon. The Command Module was christened Columbia, not after the New York university or the many places in the US, but in a reference to the Columbiad, the giant shell cum spacecraft fired from a cannon from Florida in Jules Verne’s 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon. The Lunar Module was called Eagle, referring to the bald eagle, the symbol and national bird of the US. This lent more gravitas than the Apollo 10 naming of Charlie Brown and Snoopy for the two Modules!
Neil Armstrong's voice crackled from the speakers at NASA's Mission Control in Houston. He said, ‘The Eagle has landed.’
President John F. Kennedy’s dream, expressed in 1961 – of putting humans on the Moon by the end of the decade - had come true, with five months to spare!
Of course the author Jack Higgins was to use the same phrase to great effect for the title of his first big best-seller published in 1975, The Eagle Has Landed.