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From the Monitor's archives: Man walks on moon (+video)

Friday marks the 43 anniversary of the Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin's historic landing on the surface of the moon. This is the front-page story that ran in the Christian Science Monitor on Jul 22, 1969.

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10:40 —The cabin is depressurized, the space suits are on, the hatch of the spacecraft is opened. “I’m on the porch,” says Neil Armstrong.

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10:56 — Neil Armstrong is coming down the nine-rung ladder backward.

Suddenly and dramatically on the TV screen appears his actual image. He has switched on the small TV camera. Across the vague but unmistakable picture comes the historic cutline: “Live from-surface of, the moon.”

And then:

10:56 — The huge boot reaches down, touches the stuff beneath it gingerly, places weight upon it, and the first man has stood on the moon.

11:12—Astronaut Armstrong has uttered his memorable phrase which seems rather different from his normal style: “One small step for man; one giant leap for mankind.”

A little later in a more natural voice he says: “Ain’t that something.”

He moves with increased confidence like a man who has found that he can skate. Tension relaxes a little, but the scene becomes more extraordinary. For Neil Armstrong proceeds in a kind of swimming hop, with gravity one-sixth that of earth but, at the same time, weighed down by his great suit and oxygen back pack that makes his silhouette look like a squaw carrying a papoose.

He reports the fascinating stuff of which the moon is made: footprints, in cocoa-colored dust, the surface beneath hard and firm. One rock seems to be volcanic. A blinding shaft of sunlight makes the crude picture stark and dazzling and half-blinds the astronaut, he reports.

In his space suit he passes from a temperature of perhaps 240 in the sun to something almost as many degrees below zero in the shade, and declares he feels little change.

11:15 — Edwin Aldrin is on the moon. He jumps up once like man on a trampoline. The image sent to earth gives the impression of two big spotlight eyes: a terrifying sight if these were Martians on earth. They practice balance, stability, the inertial effect on their packs, knowing that they cannot bend over and that a rip would be fatal.

They give a grotesque impression of dancing; there is something gay about it as the adventure goes swimmingly, and tension relaxes. We can hear Houston talking to them, the men, talking to each other, and now and then Houston and forgotten Mike Collins exchanging comments as he repeatedly girdles the moon and tries vainly to pick out his comrades on the dazzling crater-pocked surface below. He has no TV set; he is one of the few who can’t see what’s going on.

Formalities observed

11:49 — Formalities are observed. The astronauts set their plaque, post the flag, and rather formally come to attention to receive a call from President Nixon who is shown on a split screen. His comments are formal.

“Thank you, Mr. President,” says Neil Armstrong, and they seem to relax again.

Midnight — They are going around their circle taking random rock samples. Descriptions are difficult. Apparently the rocks look different as the sun strikes them in the great desolate landscape. The sun seems to have positive pressure. A solar screen has been put up to test bombardment of “solar waves” (protons). [Editor's note: This should have read "photons."]

At one point in the fantastic scene Astronaut Aldrin comes hopping back into view around the spindly spacecraft, like a man in a balloon. The rocks are “rather slippery—they’re powdery” Houston is told, or again they are called “beige, cocoa-colored.” It is noted that LEM’s footpads are only depressed in the surface about “Uh, one or two inches, although the surface appears to be very, very fine-grained as you get close to it."

Geologists will test those precious pieces of the moon: Do they show traces of water, of volcanic action, or life?

12:59 — Houston has warned the men to retreat to their cabin as their supply of oxygen runs low. A kind of clothesline (lunar-equipment conveyor) carries rocks into the craft.

1:10 —This time Astronaut Armstrong takes half-a-dozen rungs in one jump as he rejoins his craft. He fears the moon no longer; man has adapted once more.


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