More Than The First Step

Gregory Manchess

We were all saddened to hear about the death of Neil Armstrong last week. It felt as if we’d lost a part of our evolution, a direct link to our advancement as a species.

Most of you reading Muddy may not remember the moment Armstrong stepped onto the lunar soil, but I was in front of my folk’s b/w tv watching every moment. Forget that the camera perched on the LEM to record the historic event was mounted upside down, that we watched as he came down the ladder and bounced onto the pad of the strut at the top of the screen. (The broadcaster flipped the view for the audience watching around the world before he made that first step.) No one talks about that.

They also never talk about what a critical, hold-your-breath event it was during the landing. It was a scary situation just to put the LEM on the Moon, just to touch down in the first place. Besides all of the other things that had to go like clockwork to put a man up there, that’s the moment that everyone at NASA, including Buzz and Neil, were worried about the most. And it’s straight out of a nail-biting suspense film.

But while reading a lot of articles about Neil being the First Man on the Moon, I found an article that captured the moment so well, that every time I listen to the recording of the landing, and I hear Buzz Aldrin say, “red light”, which signaled Armstrong that they were nearly out of fuel to return, I’m projected back to that amazing feat like it was virtually happening again.

If you’re a fan of the space program this is an absolute must-read by Jeffrey Kluger, at TIME Magazine, that puts it in elegant perspective.