Fifty years after their history-making journey to the moon, Buzz Aldrin recollects the first moments of the Apollo 11 launch being so smooth that he and his two crewmates, Mike Collins and Neil Armstrong, have been unsure exactly when they left the ground.
He remembers the white-knuckle slope to the moon’s dusty surface in the four-legged lunar module Eagle, as Armstrong took manual control of the touchdown craft to pilot it to a safe landing, just seconds from running out of gasoline.
And as the second person ever to step on the moon – Armstrong was first down the ladder – Aldrin recounts feeling sure-footed within the one-sixth gravity of the lunar floor while looking at the “magnificent desert” around him.
Aldrin says he and his crewmates have been so absorbed in doing their jobs that they were strangely disconnected from how momentous the occasion was as it unfolded for hundreds of thousands of individuals on Earth, watching all of it on live TV.
Aldrin, now 89 and one of the four living people ever to have walked on the moon, recalled highlights of his Apollo 11 experiences in an interview with an organizer of Saturday’s show, which was closed to the media.
It was 50 years in the past to the day on Tuesday that Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins had been launched into space atop a Saturn 5 retrorocket from Florida’s Kennedy Space Facility.
After reaching lunar orbit, leaving Collins behind as pilot of the command module Columbia, Armstrong and Aldrin stooped to the moon’s surface in the Eagle. Armstrong ended up piloting the craft to a safe touchdown after neglecting a computer guidance machine that was heading it to a field of boulders.
During those anxious moments, Aldrin’s voice was heard in the television broadcast calling out navigation information as Eagle went downward and forward over the floor to the touchdown.