Without NXP, the Moon Landing’s Immortal Words May Have Been Lost in Space

Without NXP, the Moon Landing’s Immortal Words May Have Been Lost in Space

50 years ago, on July 20, 1969, NASA landed a man on the moon for the first time, a lasting testimony to humanity’s ingenuity and pioneering spirit. At NXP, we too are involved in shaping the future through innovation. That’s not all we have in common NASA. Did you know NXP also played a role in the moon landing?

In those heady days of July 1969, millions of people sat clustered around their televisions, watching expectantly as the Apollo 11 Lunar Module Eagle landed on the moon’s Sea of Tranquility. Excitement mounted as the grainy images showed Commander Neil Armstrong emerge from the module and place a first, tentative foot on the lunar surface. His historic words were broadcast throughout the world: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind!” An unforgettable moment, but those words may not have ever reached Earth if not for our illustrious precursor, Motorola.

A giant leap for mankind

Though the moon landing was organized by NASA, it is one of those events that transcends nationalities and belongs to everyone. As Armstrong rightly said, it was a “giant leap for mankind,” for all of us. It was a watershed moment in history, catapulting humans from the confines of Earth into space and the future. We can all take pride in the moon landings. However, NXP has even more reason to be proud because Motorola was directly involved in the Apollo program.

A small but vital role

The division of Motorola, which would eventually become Freescale Semiconductor, played a small but vital role in the moon landing. That rich lunar legacy is now a part of NXP’s DNA as we merged with Freescale in 2015. Motorola supplied NASA with thousands of semiconductor devices, ground-based tracking and checkout equipment, and 12 on-board tracking and communications units. An “up-data link” in the Apollo’s command module received signals from Earth to relay to other on-board systems. S-band transponders transmitted telemetry, voice communications, biomedical data and television signals between Earth and the moon. Motorola also supplied the specially developed backpack antenna worn by Armstrong, as well as equipment to process TV signals on Earth.

Engineers working on project mercury

Famous first words

The Motorola equipment was the astronauts’ sole connection between the moon and Earth. Without it, those famous first words uttered by Armstrong as he set foot on the moon might have been lost in space forever. However, thanks to Motorola, those words rang out across the globe, uniting the world for one brief moment of achievement and pride. So, without NXP’s precursor, the first lunar landing might’ve been much less memorable. It’s something we at NXP take great pride in, and it continues to inspire us to contribute to mankind’s ongoing journey to the stars and the future.

Image video from NXP showing use cases of NXP technology

Watch NXP’s new corporate video, which pays homage to our proud legacy in the Apollo program.

To read an interview with two Motorola employees who were involved in the Apollo program, click here. The interview was conducted five days before the actual moon landing in July 1969.

To read an article about Motorola’s important contributions to NASA, click here.

Lars Reger
Lars Reger
Lars Reger, Senior Vice President, is Chief Technology Officer at NXP Semiconductors. As CTO, Lars is responsible for managing new business activities and R&D in the focus markets of Automotive, Industry 4.0., Internet of Things, Mobile, and Connectivity & Infrastructure. NXP has the broadest processor portfolio for the Internet of Things and is the world's largest chip supplier to the automotive industry. NXP and its global team of experts drive the development of autonomous, securely connected vehicles and accelerate the introduction of smart and securely connected devices for the Internet of Things through its outstanding edge computing expertise. Before joining NXP, Lars gained deep insight into the microelectronics industry with a focus on the automotive sector. He began his career with Siemens Semiconductors as Product Engineer in 1997. His past roles at Infineon included Head of the Process and Product Engineering departments, Project Manager for Mobile System Chips, and Director of IP Management. Prior to joining NXP as CTO of the automotive division in 2008, he was responsible for business development and product management within the Connectivity Business Unit at Continental. In December 2018 Lars was appointed CTO and has since then been responsible for the overall technology portfolio of NXP.

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