The Iconic Images of Apollo 11 as they Happened in the Summer of 1969
“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Back on Earth, Neil Armstrong insisted that they had left out an “a”. That what he meant to have said, was “That’s one small step for A man, one giant leap for mankind. ” Remember he had been awake for 24 hours before his epoch-marking pronouncement, was potentially battling lunar stage fright in front of the world’s largest audience ever, and apparently was mulling over the fact that while putting on his bulky space suit whether or not he had broken the circuit breaker for the switch to start the Eagle’s engine for ascent.
“There must be an ‘a’, ” Mr. Armstrong says of the event in the 1986 book Chariots for Apollo. “I rehearsed it that way. I meant it that way. And I’m sure I said it that way.”
A Grumman representative, Tommy Attridge, put on a commemorative 45-rpm recording of the flight and played it for the first man on the moon. No matter what speed they played it at, there was no “a”.
According to the authors, Mr. Armstrong sighed, “Damn, I really did it. I blew the first words on the moon, didn’t I?”
PHONE CALL TRANSCRIPT:
Armstrong: That would be an honor.
McCandless: Go ahead Mr. President. This is Houston out.
Nixon: Hello, Neil and Buzz. I’m talking to you by telephone from the Oval Room at the White House. And this certainly has to be the most historic telephone call ever made. I just can’t tell you how proud we all are of what you’ve done. For every American, this has to be the proudest day of our lives. And for people all over the world, I am sure they too join with Americans in recognizing what an immense feat this is. Because of what you have done, the heavens have become a part of man’s world. And as you talk to us from the Sea of Tranquility, it inspires us to redouble our efforts to bring peace and tranquility to Earth. For one priceless moment in the whole history of man, all the people on this Earth are truly one: one in their pride in what you have done, and one in our prayers that you will return safely to Earth.
Armstrong: Thank you Mr. President. It’s a great honor and privilege for us to be here, representing not only the United States, but men of peace of all nations, and with interest and curiosity, and men with a vision for the future. It’s an honor for us to be able to participate here today.
Nixon: And thank you very much and I look forward – all of us look forward – to seeing you on the Hornet on Thursday.