Neil Armstrong's “one small step” to the surface of the Moon has reverberated for the past 40 years. Freelance reporter Lucas Laursen looks back at the Apollo 11 mission, twittering events in “real time” as they happened in 1969 (

In the accompanying blog series, @ApolloPlus40 (, Laursen has gathered stories of public and political reactions to the missions, as well as the medical and technological doors it opened.

In one post, he covers a 14 July editorial that responded to then NASA administrator Thomas Paine's view that the mission was “a triumph of the squares” (a synonym for nerd) by promoting the astronauts' clean-cut image. Another post tells of the plea of a reverend to Paine to direct agency technology toward the plights of hunger and poverty. Paine is said to have sagely noted: “It will be a lot harder to solve [these problems] than it is to send men to the Moon.”

The series continues through the anniversary of the launch, on 16 July, and will cover the duration of the mission, up until 13 August, when the returning astronauts left quarantine.