Canadians played pivotal roles in landing humans on the moon
LONGUEUIL, QUE. – Canada Post today issued two commemorative stamps celebrating the 50th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 mission that landed humans on the moon for the first time – and the Canadians who helped make it possible.
On July 20, 1969, more than half a billion people around the world were transfixed by grainy black and white television footage of astronaut Neil Armstrong taking humankind’s first steps on the moon. The mission was a giant leap for human space exploration and featured significant Canadian ingenuity and innovation. Canadian engineers working at NASA, and a company based in Longueuil, Quebec, that built part of the lunar lander, were instrumental in making the mission a success:
James (Jim) Chamberlin
Jim Chamberlin was a leading figure in aircraft design in Canada before moving to the U.S. in 1959 to work for NASA. He became head of engineering for Project Mercury, the first human spaceflight program for the United States, and project manager and chief designer for the Gemini spacecraft that preceded Apollo. He helped determine the type of spacecraft that would transport the Apollo 11 astronauts and was one of the first at NASA to recognize that flying directly to the moon wasn’t the best option. Instead, Chamberlin favoured having a smaller landing module travel to lunar orbit attached to the main spacecraft, then descend to the moon’s surface and later reconnect with the main spacecraft. This approach, known as lunar orbit rendezvous, became fundamental to the Apollo program.
One of Canada’s top aircraft engineers before being hired by NASA in 1959, Owen Maynard went on to head the Systems Engineering Division for the Apollo spacecraft program – effectively making him the chief engineer. He sketched early designs of the main Apollo command module and is credited as the person at NASA most responsible for the design of the lunar lander. He also served as Chief of the Mission Operations Division and was responsible for planning the sequence of missions that led to Apollo 11. Like Chamberlin, Maynard also played an important role in determining the safest way to reach and land on the moon.
The first legs to stand on the moon didn’t belong to Neil Armstrong – they were from Héroux Machine Parts Limited of Longueuil, Quebec. Now known as Héroux-Devtek, the company manufactured the spider-like landing gear legs on the lunar module to NASA’s specifications. The legs were also part of the launch platform that let Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin lift off from the moon and reconnect with the main command module. Those legs remain on the moon at the Apollo 11 landing site, in an area known as the Sea of Tranquility.
The stamp issue, designed by Matthew Clark of Subplot Design Inc. and illustrated by Mack Sztaba, was printed by Lowe-Martin and is available in a booklet of 10 stamps and a pane of six. The Official First Day Cover is cancelled in Longueuil, home of Héroux-Devtek.
The stamps and related collectibles are available at canadapost.ca/shop and at postal outlets across Canada. Follow these links for high-resolution images and for additional information in Details magazine.