Tomorrow marks the 50th anniversary that two men landed on the surface of the moon.
It’s impossible to overemphasize the extraordinary achievement that took place 50 years ago this week. Technical skills aside, the courage that three men took was beyond anything that had ever been attempted. And yet, the men, inside their Columbia space craft, found the time to be as normal as apple pie. Here are just a few of the many moments.
With their approach to the moon, command module pilot Michael Collins wanted a picture of a most spectacular sight: the earth rising above the edge of the moon.
Collins: Jesus Christ, look at that horizon!
Armstrong: Get a picture of that.
Collins: Ooh, sure, I will.
After a few seconds, “I’ve lost my Hasselblad [his camera]. Has anyone seen a Hasselblad floating by? It couldn’t have gone very far… Everybody look for a floating Hasselblad! … I’ve looked everywhere over here… and I just don’t see it…”
Armstrong: It’s too late for sunrise, anyway.
Later on, Collins appears to have found his camera, and Armstrong believes he’s a little distracted by the view.
Armstrong: What are you doing, Mike? What are you taking pictures of?
Collins: Oh, I don’t know. Wasting film, I guess.
What is really incredible is the final 20 minutes of conversation between Houston, Armstrong and Aldrin as the begin their decent onto the surface of the moon… believe me, it’s worth watching the entire clip!
On July 21, Armstrong carefully backs down the ladder on the lunar module.
Houston: Okay, Neil, we can see you coming down the ladder now.
Armstrong: Okay. I just checked getting back up to that first step, Buzz. It’s… the strut isn’t collapsed too far, but it’s adequate to get back up.
Houston: Roger. We copy.
Armstrong: I’m at the foot of the ladder. The LM footpads are only depressed in the surface about 1 or 2 inches, although the surface appears to be very, very fine-grained, as you get close to it. It’s almost like a powder. Ground mass is very fine.
Okay. I’m going to step off the LM now…. That’s one small step for man. One giant leap for mankind.
Here’s another clip of Aldrin walking around the surface as taken from a camera mounted in the Lunar module.
And after Collins docks with lunar spacecraft returning from the moon…
Houston: How does it feel up there to have some company?
Collins: Damn good, I’ll tell you.
Houston: I’ll bet. I bet you’d almost be talking to yourself up there after 10 revs or so. [Collins flew approximately 10 revolutions around the moon before docking with Armstrong and Aldrin.]
Collins: No, no. It’s a happy home here. [It’s] nice to have some company. As a matter of fact, it’d be nice to have a couple of hundred million Americans up here.
Houston: Roger. Well, they were with you in spirit.
Collins: Let them see what they’re getting for their money.
Houston: Roger. Well, they were with you in spirit, anyway, at least that many. We heard on the news today, 11, that last night – yesterday after you made your landing, New York Times came out with – headlines, the largest headlines they’ve ever used in the history of the newspaper.
Collins: Save us a copy.
Houston: I’m glad to hear it was fit to print, [referencing the Times line at the top of the page: “All the news that’s fit to print.”]
Before they climbed the ladder to return to the command module, Aldrin and Armstrong read the text on the plaque that was attached to the lunar module.
“Here men from the planet Earth first set foot on the Moon. July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.”