Neil Armstrong's First Words: One Small Fib or Giant Leap by Brother?
by Robert Z. Pearlman, collectSPACE.com Editor
Date: 03 January 2013 Time: 01:06 PM ET
|Neil Armstrong, the commander of Apollo 11 and the first man to walk on the moon, will be memorialized on Aug. 31, 2012. |
Armstrong, on becoming the first person to set foot onto another planetary body on July 20, 1969, radioed back to Earth, "That's one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind." His quote instantly became a part of history. (The "a" wasn't audible in the broadcast but the astronaut said — and a 2006 audio analysis supported — that he did indeed speak the word.)
Since returning to Earth four decades ago and up until his death last year, Armstrong maintained that he did not give any thought to what he would say while on the moon until after he safely landed the Apollo 11 lunar module "Eagle" at Tranquility Base.
But a new interview with his brother suggests Armstrong's "small step" quote was not a "giant leap" at improvisation. [Neil Armstrong Buried at Sea (NASA Photos)]
"He slipped me a piece of paper and said 'read that,'" said Dean Armstrong, Neil's younger brother, during a new BBC documentary on the first moonwalker's life that first aired on Sunday (Dec. 30). "On that piece of paper there was 'That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.'"
Neil then asked his brother what he thought about the quote. "Fabulous," Dean recalled as saying, to which his brother replied, 'I thought you might like that, but I wanted you to read it.'"
According to Dean, that conversation took place months before his brother launched to the moon. But not everyone accepts his account as being accurate.
"As much as I respect Dean Armstrong, I do not believe his recollection of this is correct," James R. Hansen, Neil Armstrong's authorized biographer, wrote on Facebook.
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