Collins’ first task was to separate the command and service modules from the Saturn and proceed away from it a safe distance; then turn around and face it.
As Apollo 11 passed over Western Australia, at T+2 hours 26 minutes Houston relayed to Collins, Armstrong, and Aldrin – through Carnarvon – formal permission to go to the moon. “Apollo 11, this is Houston. You are go for TLI.” Mike Collins answered, “Apollo 11. Thank you.”
A Saturn V liftoff is spectacular, and the launch of Apollo 11 was no exception. But it didn’t give the audience any surprises. To the three Gemini-experienced pilots, who likened the sensation to the boost of a Titan II, it was a normal launch.
In addition to the ordinary taxpayers who gathered on the beaches and roads of eastern Florida, 20,000 VIPs were invited by NASA to watch the lift off from viewing stands near the Vehicle Assembly Building.