The Brits who bolstered the Moon landings

In 1969, when man first stood on the Moon, a number of British engineers, from towns and villages such as Billericay, Leigh-on-Sea and Llanddaniel Fab, helped get the Apollo 11 mission off the ground.   The BBC Archive contains films featuring some of these men.




Francis Thomas Bacon

In 1932, Essex-born Francis Thomas Bacon invented a fuel cell which derived power from hydrogen and oxygen. Without this, the Apollo 11 crew wouldn’t have had the power necessary for essentials like lights, air-conditioning and communications.

When President Nixon welcomed Bacon to the White House, he was candid in his appreciation, telling him that "without you, Tom, we wouldn't have gotten to the Moon".

Video information: On BBC Radio 4's The World At One, Nancy Wise interviews Francis Thomas Bacon about his fuel cell which had most recently been used in the Apollo 8 mission.

↗ Originally broadcast 4 February 1969




John Hodge

Essex-born John Hodge was flight director at Mission Control in Houston for a number of the Mercury, Gemini and early Apollo manned space missions. He had retired from his flight director role by 1969, but his earlier contributions helped in the progress of the Apollo 11 mission.

Video information: On Tomorrow’s World, John Hodge speaks to Raymond Baxter.

↗ Originally broadcast 12 May 1966




Dr Ian Dodds

Born in Batley, West Yorkshire, Dr Ian Dodds was manager of systems dynamics on the Apollo missions, with key responsibility for launch escape, docking and Earth recovery systems. He was co-author of a paper detailing the functioning of the Apollo escape system, an ejection device designed to help astronauts if there was a failure during launch.

Video information: Dr Dodds speaks to BBC News’ Reginald Turnill.

↗ Originally broadcast 16 August 1968




Tecwyn Roberts

Anglesey-born engineer Tecwyn Roberts served as Nasa's first Flight Dynamics Officer. He was involved in designing Mission Control at Nasa's Johnson Space Center in Houston and helped create its worldwide tracking and communications network.

Video information: Tecwyn Roberts’ part in the BBC's Apollo 13 coverage.

↗ Originally broadcast 17 April 1970




Keith Wright

A systems engineer at Bendix Aerospace, Keith Wright was responsible for the pre-launch operations of the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package at Kennedy Space Center.

Prior to lift-off, the Nottingham engineer etched a Union flag onto part of a solar panel which remained on the Moon after Armstrong and Aldrin completed their mission.

Video information: On the One Show, Keith Wright talks to Carol Vorderman.

↗ Originally broadcast 3 April 2019




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