“Other ‘First Words’ on the Moon”

Guest Apollo program nostalgia by David Middleton

For my fellow WUWT space program groupies…

We’d better have something appropriate to say. What are you guys gonna say? If you had any balls you’d say, “Oh, my God! What is that thing?” Then scream and cut your mic.

–Cary Elwes as Apollo 11 Command Module Pilot Michael Collins, in From the Earth to the Moon, Mare Tranquillitatis, 1998

https://www.springfieldspringfield.co.uk/view_episode_scripts.php?tv-show=from-the-earth-to-the-moon-1998&episode=s01e06 real

Ross Pomeroy had an entertaining article on Real Clear Science yesterday…

What Did Other Astronauts Say as They Took Their First Steps on the Moon?
By Ross Pomeroy – RCP Staff

“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

We all know Neil Armstrong’s famous first words as he took that pioneering step onto the surface of the Moon (or at least we think we do), but there were eleven other astronauts from five more Apollo missions who left their footprints in the lunar regolith. Surely they imparted some memorable words as well!

Apollo 15 Commander David Scott certainly endeavored to follow Armstrong’s example.

“As I stand out here in the wonders of the unknown at Hadley, I sort of realize there’s a fundamental truth to our nature,” he said. “Man must explore. And this is exploration at its greatest.”

Weighty words escaped Apollo 16 Commander John W. Young, however, who was understandably overcome with boyish wonder upon placing his boots onto the lunar surface.

“Oh, is this ever neat, Charlie!” he exclaimed to Lunar Module Pilot Charles Duke.


Real Clear Science

If this isn’t a sufficiently silver bullet for faked Moon landing conspiracy nuts…

Figure 1. Basalt FeO vs Al2O3 . Triangles = terrestrial continental basalts, circles = terrestrial oceanic and ocean island basalts, diamonds = Apollo 11 mare basalts.

Then Apollo 12 Commander Pete Conrad’s first words on the Moon certainly are…

“Whoopie! Man, that may have been a small one for Neil, but that’s a long one for me.”

Apollo 12 Mission Commander Pete Conrad (at 5’6″, Pete Conrad was the shortest man to set foot on the moon)

Figure 2. Apollo 12 crew, Left to right, are Charles (Pete) Conrad Jr., Richard F. Gordon Jr., and Alan L. Bean.
Image Credit: NASA

November 14-20, 2019 will mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 12 mission to the Oceanus Procellarum (Sea of Storms).

61 thoughts on ““Other ‘First Words’ on the Moon”

  1. I think it’s safe to say that Armstrong’s alleged comment to his former next door neighbour never actually happened. Good story though.

  2. Neil Armstrong was the mission commander. As such, he was too important to the overall mission to risk as the first man out. That honor was to fall to Buzz Aldrin. As much as Armstrong would have liked to be first, he understood and accepted the responsibilities of command.
    So what happened?
    Buzz declared to Mission Control that his historic first words would be:

    No Sh*t! It really is made of Green Cheese!

    Mission Control ordered Armstrong to go first.

        • I think it looked good on paper, but whoever wrote it didn’t think about what it would sound like in the typical cadence of Neil Armstrong’s way of speaking. “One step fer’a man …”

          • They’re planning to add the sound stage to the Space Center tour down here in Houston. It isn’t as impressive as the zero-g swimming pool.

    • Armstrong stood on the lefthand side of the Lunar Module. The door through which they would exit was below and between them. It hinged on the left so Aldrin was quite unable to move past Armstrong to be first out, even if he had wanted to be.

      There was so little room inside the LM – about the same space as an average car – it is still unexplained how they even managed to climb into their bulky spacesuits unaided, when on Earth a team of assistants is required to help astronauts get ‘suited-up’ prior to launch.

      Maybe Buzz Aldrin can take some small comfort from the fact that his name is now forever immortalised in the Toy Story franchise as Buzz Lightyear…

        • 0G in lunar orbit and they had each other’s help.
          Doesn’t really matter. The Russians certainly would have challenged if it were faked and they tried to land a probe prior to the landing in an attempt to diminish the accomplishment.

  3. I remember seeing a piece of MacBean tartan cloth taken to the moon by Alan Bean. I also think he claimed the moon or part of it for the clan MacBean.

    • A quick google search leads to a Clan MacBean web site with a 2005 quote from Bean indicating he took the tartan to the moon and returned it to Earth.

      But he is a Scotsman.

        • Read The Steel Bonnets by George MacDonald Fraser and understand how important the Armstrongs were in the Border region. ” … the Armstrongs were the most feared and dangerous riding clan on the whole frontier.”

  4. To me the biggest wonder is that it was done in the days of slide rules and
    very simple computers for the space ship.

    Considering that, it was a wonderful endeavour.


    • I have a “byte” from the Apollo mission control clock. It is a printed circuit card about 2.5”x5” with 9 rather large transistors soldered on it. What they started with back in the early 60’s and what they accomplished was truly amazing. Most people today just don’t understand how remarkable and resourceful these people were.

    • Even more amazing: They used feet and lbs to measure stuff.
      I still like to remind people that the only guys who sent men to the Moon and back used that obsolete system of units.
      I still recall that Mars shot that failed because the young woman engineer who became chief engineer of the project (by default) confused metric and English units.

        • ummm…


          Mixing units is a risk. The convention on all the projects I have worked on is to avoid mixing units like the plague. If you are modifying a platform that was originally built in inches then you do your modifications in inches. It avoids confusion later because the mind set of the original design is maintained.

          It is when you are working on a platform originally built back in the dark ages of engineering and installing a system designed in sensible rational easy to use and understand units – cough METRIC SYSTEM – then you need to be paying attention.

          The basic concepts of inches to mm is easy to remember. 1/2 inch? 12.7mm. 1/4 inch? 6.35mm. So having converted your design to metric you can look at the design, see a dimension of 12.7mm and know it is meant to be there. So far so simple.

          Problems are when you get to the more abstract dimensions. You could come across a collection of hole centres that were something like 16 and 5/8 inches (or whatever) in the original design. So that is… 422.275mm. So, with your metric mindset you look at that and wonder why someone selected that distance. Get into the really small fractions (33/64 or something) and you do start to wonder if that is the correct dimension or a modelling error.

          So you need to confirm that this is the number you want, dimension your new mating part to some 4 decimal place number because if you don’t you are going to get weird stacking errors and your parts wont assemble and then hope the manufacturers you use for construction actually understand what you have placed on the drawing and ACTUALLY deliver to it.

          OR… you could have the entire thing in metric from the start and have all your dimensions sensible round numbers with 0.5 positional tolerance under maximum material condition.

          Divide by 3?

          Ummm… No. This is engineering, not the IPCC.

      • As we in the industry say there are two types of aerospace systems: Those that use metric, and those that have put men on the moon.

        Meh, a number is a number is a number. It doesn’t mater the units only the precision.

        Rocket science is easy. Any college entry level calculus student can calculate an orbital trajectory.
        It’s a whole different beast to actually invent, design, build, test and verify a machine that will actually accomplish that orbital trajectory…reliably and safely. Rocket Engineering is a bitch!

    • It was an absolutely incredible feat of engineering, planning and coordination, stretching the available technology to its very limits.
      Add on top of that the courage and discipline of the astronauts who estimated their chances at only about 50%, yet didn’t ever question carrying out the mission.

  5. As President Trump’s program, Artemis, is named after Apollo’s famous amazon warrior sister, it could be the next small step for a woman.

    Someone ought to tell poor Greta’s friends to look up there on NASA’s October 5 Moon Day.
    Hey, CO2 is just fog in the bog.

    • In no way can Artemis be considered to be ‘Trump’s program, Artemis”. He’ll be gone, and good riddance, before a boot hits regolith anyway. One Term Trump – and that’s already one too many.

      • Adrian Mann,
        You really need to rein in your hatred. Trump has been a good president, just different. Much better than Clinton would have been and so far better than Obama was.

      • Agreed. And we heard it two seconds after he said it.

        Detail: was the timing of events recorded using Earth Time or Moon Time? Was there a fudge factor applied to all records to get the signal timing correct?

        It is a kind of “What did they know and when did they know it” issue.

        • Have a look at the movie from down under – The Dish, Houston’s other Problem.
          The signal had to go via 2 Aussie antenna’s and the team was not ready.

          So it was Aussie time.

  6. Buzz Aldrin wrote, in his co-authored SF book “Encounter with Tiber”, that the first words spoken on the surface of the Moon were by him, and were “Contact light”. I.e, a light had come on that showed that the landing feet were firmly on the surface. Not very historical – but very much a “Right Stuff” thing.
    BTW, the book is pretty good!

    • Sorry Russ – “Contact light” means the probes that extended downwards from the pads had touched the surface, so the descent engine could shut off and the LM drop the last few feet. Only then were the pads firmly on the surface.
      Aldrin: “Okay, contact light. Okay, engine stop. ACA out of detent”
      Armstrong: “Out of detent”
      Aldrin: “Mode control – both auto. Descent engine command override – off. Engine arm – off. 413 is in”
      CapCom: “We copy you down Eagle”
      Armstrong: “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed”

  7. One small step for…goddamnit.. Cut. The lighting guy distracted me. And give me a bit more rope on the left arm next time. Didn’t feel totally real. Lets do it again. What this is live? Damnit

  8. Are there any truths to the rumors that the Apollo 11 astronauts saw UFO’s on the moon? Supposedly,in some of the transmissions,they reported to NASA that they saw an unidentified bright white object parked on the Southwest rim of a crater.In another transmission,the astronauts were saying,”Look at the size of those things,they’re watching us!”NASA asked them for the numerical cooridinates of the crater.I heard these transmissions supposedly caught by ham radio operators and that NASA was covering up these radio transmissions.
    Can anybody comment on this as to the possibility of any validity to all of this or is it all a hoax or just conspiracy theory rumors?

  9. One of the Apollo capsules is in the Flight Museum at Love Field in Dallas. Seeing it up close gives one great perspective and wonder about the enterprise, technology and otherwise.

  10. I was rather hoping someone’s first words on the moon would be something like, “What in …? Who…? Why…? It looks like a huge mouse trap!” “Oh my God!” (end transmission – just static).

    The Twighlight Zone and Rod Serling need a proper tribute from NASA.

  11. A very clever Astronaut might I said,

    “I could really go for cold Budweiser, right now.” He would have made him millions. Not to mention all the free beer.

    • Oh really… you ‘discovered’ that, did you? By ‘discovered’ do you mean you watched some YouTube videos from fellow Flattards?

      Go away.

      • I’m so sorry.


        All better now?

        Mr Poe and his law. “Tut”.

        (I rather liked the logical inconsistencies I put into my post, but the book is real, and it really was my first conspiracy theory:”Incredible proof of an alien race on the Moon! The evidence: Immense mechanical rigs, strange geometric ground markings and symbols, construction, lights, flares, vehicle tracks, towers, pipes, and conduits. The conclusion: somebody is doing something on our Moon! Illustrated with official NASA photographs.” Compete nonsense, but good fun.)

  12. I still have a micrometer , a zero to one inch in 1 to 1000 parts. an d
    a 1 to 2 inch which I bought. I was 15 years of age and using a lathe. It
    was 1942 in the UK.

    I did not need it as the operation was set up by a fitter, but I wanted to learn
    how to read the engineering drawings, and the futter helped me.

    Today of course with metric it seems very old fashioned , but it , the system


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