Apart from the Apollo 11 astronauts, hundreds of NASA scientists who worked at the ground station also had sleepless nights until the moment Neil Armstrong touched the lunar surface. As US is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, the nation should also thank a boy, who was then 10-year-old boy, as he played a crucial role in materializing the historic mission.
NASA landed their astronauts on the lunar surface on July 20, 1969, as a part of their Apollo 11 program and thus the US space agency proclaimed their unquestionable dominance in the space race. After landing on the moon, Armstrong delivered his iconic dialogue, ''That is one small step for me, one giant leap for mankind''.
The boy named Greg Force was living in Guam in 1969 and his father Charles Force was working as the director of a NASA tracking station that helped the astronauts to connect with the NASA Mission Control for voice communication located in the ground.
NASA sought the help of Greg Force soon after Apollo 11 departed from the lunar surface. At this time, a bearing of the dish antenna responsible to track the ship got broken. Without this dish antenna, NASA was not able to connect with the astronauts who were in a descend.
Soon, Charles called Greg and asked him to come to the tracking station. Charles believed that Greg's hand size will help him to squeeze his arms through the antenna's access hole and pack grease around the bearing which will solve the issue temporarily.
"I would take a big handful of grease, you know, you squish it. It comes out between your fingers, and I stuck them down in there and packed them the best I could. Now that I look back on it, I'm very proud. Not especially anything amazing that I did, but that I happened to be in the right place at the right time. I'm also proud that my dad trusted me enough ... to do it," said Greg, npr.org reports.
As Greg accomplished the task successfully, a NASA public affairs officer noted the 10-year-old boy's contribution in an announcement from the Apollo control. The space agency also thanked the boy for his efforts during a very critical situation.