Armstrong's moon speech not so improvised, brother tells BBC

Thu Jan 3, 2013 11:33am EST
 
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By Irene Klotz

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) - Astronaut Neil Armstrong may not have been speaking entirely off the cuff when he delivered the most iconic quote in the history of manned space flight.

Armstrong wrote out the sentence, "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind," before blasting off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, with Apollo astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins in July 1969, his brother now says, according to the transcripts of a documentary recently aired on BBC Two.

Because of a radio communications glitch, millions of people watching on television as Armstrong became the first human being to step onto the surface of the moon never heard him utter the word "a" before man.

Armstrong, who died in August at the age of 82, had always maintained he composed the words after touching down on the moon on July 20, 1969, while he waited to leave the Eagle lunar lander.

But Armstrong's younger brother Dean, speaking in an interview for the documentary, "Neil Armstrong - First Man on the Moon" aired on Sunday, said that was not entirely accurate.

"Dean told me that Neil shared the words with him shortly before he left for the Cape, so maybe a couple weeks before the mission," producer Chris Riley told Reuters.

An Armstrong family spokesman did not reply to a request from Reuters for comment.

"I find the timing of Dean Armstrong's revelation to be curious," said Robert Pearlman, owner and curator of CollectSpace.com, a space history website.   Continued...

 
Apollo 11 crew's portrait session shows astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin Aldrin in this July 1969 handout photo courtesy of NASA. REUTERS/NASA/Handout