This year is the 49th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, the first time humans walked on the moon. The iconic imagery and audio from the mission is certainly seared into humankind’s collective consciousness, but there are a handful of side stories from the mission that are often overlooked. Here are some of the historical anecdotes that will change the way you remember man’s first foray on the moon.
10. “In the Event of Moon Disaster”
Had the Apollo 11 moon landing gone horribly wrong, the world may have immortalized the words of William Safire, Richard Nixon’s speechwriter. You see, Safire had written a statement for Nixon to deliver in the wake of a hypothetical moon disaster. Rather than Neil Armstrong’s famous words, we may have committed an equally poetic phrase to memory: “Fate has ordained that men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace.”
9. A Famous Misquote?
When Neil Armstrong took his first step on the moon, he actually meant to say “That’s one small step for a man.” People have argued whether a shoddy radio connection caused the misquote, or if Armstrong had a case of global stage fright and skipped over the tiny, but important, word.
8. Speaking of Those ‘First’ Words…
Armstrong gets all the credit for uttering the first words on the moon, but “That’s one small step…” wasn’t the first lunar sentence spoken — technically. Bob Berman, Slooh astronomer and author of Zoom, tells a different story that came out of an interview with Aldrin years ago. Berman says Aldrin was actually the first man to speak on the moon, but his quote wasn’t nearly as sexy. When the lander touched down, Aldrin simply said, “OK, engines stop.”
(For more insider stories about the Apollo 11 landing, be sure to tune into Slooh’s live webcast of the moon’s surface in HD — complete with commentary from Berman and other special guests.)