Hear Buzz Aldrin tell the story of the first moon landing
I am Buzz Aldrin. And I was the Lunar Module Pilot on Apollo 11. Five, four, three, two, one, zero. All engine running. Liftoff! We have a liftoff. 32 minutes past the hour. Liftoff on Apollo 11. Tower cleared. Roger, Eagle’s undocked. Roger, how does it look? The Eagle has wings. Rog. Looking good. Roger, Neil. Everything looked normal when we separated. Little communications problems with Earth. But then when we got to the point of lighting the engine for powered descent. Eagle, we got you now. It’s looking good. Over. Roger, copy. Neil said I think we might be a little long. Well, how could he tell that? He had some lines marked on the map, and looking at the watch, or clock that we had, we
were. We get to a point looking down where we’re going want to yaw around. And let the landing radar begin to correct the knowledge that the computer had of exactly
what the orbit is. Eagle, Houston. Have to yaw around. Angle, S-Band pitch minus niner, yaw plus one eight. And shortly after that happened we began to get some program alarms. Give us a reading on the 1202 program alarm. Which interrupted the displays. Now the displays to the crew from the computer were pretty basic. There were three registers of a lot of numbers. And you had to know what each one of those meant. But now they were blanked because we had this program alarm. And so we asked Houston what the problem was, if we’re still go on that. After a few minutes they came back and said, Roger, we got you. We’re go on that alarm. We continued down but it tended to distract a little bit but we were still a good landing trajectory. As the lander gets down to about 500 feet. The commander, nobody has ever really maneuvered and checked the response of the landing craft. And so all the commanders agreed that at 500 feet they would begin to manually control toward what looked like a reasonable landing spot. And everything still appeared to be OK. And I could see, and Neil also wanted to avoid, a crater that was in front of us. Forward, forward. Good. When we were at about 100 feet. Now, Neil is looking out the window and manually controlling and I’m giving him the numbers of the altitude, the altitude rate or descent rate, and the speed over the ground. 40 feet down. 2 and a half. Kicking up some dust. Four forward. And I keep updating with that information. 4 forward, drifting to the right a little. At about 100 feet, there’s a light that comes on that’s the Fuel Quantity Light. And about that time the capsule communicator, Charlie Duke, says, 60 seconds. OK, 100 feet, 60 seconds. We better ease down is what I’m saying. But I don’t want to disturb Neil by saying ‘hurry up, hurry up.’ Lights on. A little further, 30 seconds. But we’re 10 feet. I figured we got it made. When the landing gear is just about to touch, there are probes that come down about five, six feet. And as soon as they hit the ground they will bend. It’s supposed to bend. And that sets a microswitch and it lights a light in the cabin, and that’s when I said, Contact light. Of course Neil is looking out the window and controlling it, but that’s the first indication of actually touching down. And then we actually touched down with the four gear and I call out a few things that we need to do like shut off the engine. OK, engine stop. We copy you down Eagle. Tranquility Base here, the Eagle has landed. Roger, Tranquility we copy you on the ground. You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We’re breathing again. Thanks a lot. So we touched down. And I think the estimate, not because somebody put a dipstick in the fuel to see how much was left, but it was calculations and information onboard. We probably had about 15 seconds of fuel left. OK, Neil, we can see you coming down the ladder now. There’s really no place on earth that we could simulate a gravity of one sixth of what we have here. So there really wasn’t a great simulation. Because of that we were scheduled at the bottom of the ladder to just hold on and sort of see what it was like under the gravity. Okay I just checked getting back up to that first step. It’s uh, this side hasn’t collapsed too far. Neil went down first and he did things and I could see him through the window. OK, I’m going to step off the LM now. He had no trouble at all just moving around. That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. So I knew that there wasn’t gonna be any trouble for me to move around. About a three-footer. Beautiful view. So, we proceeded on. Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon. July 1969, AD. Walking was relatively easy. I demonstrated several means near the end of our stay on the surface in front of the TV camera. And that was planned up here, if we had the time. And it looked to people back on earth as if I was just having fun but I was really doing something for people to observe the ease of mobility. So we went through the countdown. And. When the call came from Earth You’re cleared for take off. I had planned ahead what I was going to say. Roger, understand, we’re number one on the runway. Now, when the lunar module takes off it’s about 1g. But that’s six times the gravity so we leave pretty, pretty rapidly. The ascent engine is fixed, so it’s a rather sloppy feeling, but it’s what’s expected, there was nothing wrong. And when the engine cut off we were in a good orbit.