The First Lunar Landing


wide view of lunar surface

This is the view out the right window. (Photo 11.) Up close to the horizon you see a boulder field that was probably deposited by some of the impacts in the craters that were behind us. You see, most of the craters have rounded edges, however, there is a variation in the age of these as we can tell by the sharpness of the edge of the crater. The immediate foreground area we will see more of later. It was relatively flat terrain in contrast to some of the more rolling terrain that we could see out the front window and out the left window. This is the view looking forward along where the shadow of the LM is cast on the surface (Photo 12) and we see a zero-phased glow around the upper portion of the LM. The general color of the terrain looking down-Sun was a very light tannish color. This blended as we looked more cross-Sun to sharper, more well-defined features to more of a gray color. During the initial time period after touchdown, we went through various sequences to prepare us for immediate abort or liftoff, if we found that this was necessary. We found that we had to vent the fuel and oxidizer manifolds a good bit earlier than we had thought. We went through these various checks and prepared for a liftoff that would have to occur about 21 minutes after the beginning of powered descent. The ground (network) gave us a stay during this period and we did not have to make use of that. We then proceeded, at that point, into our simulated countdown which consisted of checking our guidance systems. We made use of a gravity-align feature where the inertial platform of the primary guidance system would defuse the gravity vector to determine the local vertical. We then compared this with the alignments that we had previously. We also made use of the stars through the telescope in aligning a cross hair by rotating the field of view so the cross hair superimposed on the star -- this would give us the angular measurement of the star within the field of view of the telescope. We then determined the distance out by aligning another radical spiral on this. We went through an averaging technique onboard and then fed this information into the computer and came up with our various alignment checks. This was all in preparation for a possible liftoff that would occur about two hours after touchdown as Mike and Columbia came over for the first revolution. The ground network gave us a stay and we continued through the remainder of the checklist in our simulated countdown and at this point we terminated and powered down the systems aboard the spacecraft and went into an eat period.

the shadow of the LM is cast on the surface

A number of experts had, prior to the flight, predicted that a good bit of difficulty might be encountered by people attempting to work on the surface of the Moon due to the variety of strange atmospheric and gravitational characteristics that would be encountered. This didn't prove to be the case and after landing we felt very comfortable in the lunar gravity. It was, in fact, in our view preferable both to weightlessness and to the Earth's gravity. All the systems on the LM were operating magnificently -- we had very few problems. We decided to go ahead with the surface work immediately. We predicted that we might be ready to leave the LM by 8 o'clock, but those of you who followed on the ground recognize we missed our estimate a good deal. This was due to a number of factors:
  1. we had housekeeping to perform (food packages, flight plans, all the items that we had used in the previous descent had to be stowed out of the way prior to depressurizing the lunar module)
  2. it took longer to depressurize the lunar module than we had anticipated and
  3. it also took longer to get the cooling units in our backpacks operating than we had expected.
In substance, it took us approximately an hour longer to get ready than we had predicted. When we actually descended the ladder it was found to be very much like the lunar gravity simulations we had performed here on Earth. No difficulty was encountered in descending the ladder. The last step was about 3 1/2 feet trom the surface, and we were somewhat concerned that we might have difficulty in reentering the LM at the end of our activity period. So we practiced that before doing the exercise of bringing the camera down which took the subsequent surface pictures. Here you see the camera being lowered on what might be called the "Brooklyn clothesline." (Photo 13.) I was operating quite carefully here because immediately to my right and off the picture was a six-foot-deep crater. And I was somewhat concerned about losing my balance on the steep slope. The other item of interest in the very early stages of EVA, should it have been cut short for some unknown reason, was the job of bringing back a sample of the lunar rocks. The photograph shows the collection of that initial sample into a small bag (Photo 14) and then that bag being deposited in my pocket. This was the first of a number of times when we found two men were a great help. I quickly put up the TV camera. And then more leisurely Buzz and I joined together to erect the American flag. (Photo 15.) We found on a number of occasions when we were able to help each other in many ways on the surface. You probably recall the times that I got my foot caught in the television cable, and Buzz was able to help me extract it without falling down.
filmstrip of surface work
Aldrin and Armstrong setting American Flag on the Moon

We had some difficulty at first getting the pole of the flag to remain in the surface. In penetrating the surface, we found that most objects would go down about 5, maybe 6 inches, and then meet with gradual resistance. At the same time there was not much of a support force on either side, so we had to lean the flag back slightly in order for it to maintain this position. So many people have done so much to give us this opportunity to place this American flag on the surface. To me it was one of the prouder moments of my life, to be able to stand there and quickly salute the flag. (Photo 16.)

Aldrin saluting American flag

The rest of the activity seemed to be very rushed. There were a lot of things to do, and we had a hard time getting them finished.

We did find that mobility on the surface was in general a good bit better than perhaps we had anticipated it. There was a slight tendency to be more nearly toward the rear of a neutral stable position. Loss of balance seemed to be quite easy to identify. And as one would lean a slight bit to one side or the other, it was very easy to identify when this loss of balance was approaching. In maneuvering around, one of my tasks fairly early in the EVA, I found that a standard loping technique of one foot in front of the other worked out quite as well as we would have expected. One could also jump in more of a kangaroo fashion, two feet at a time. This seemed to work, but without quite the same degree of control of your stability as you moved along. We found that we had to anticipate three to four steps ahead in comparison with the one or two steps ahead when you're walking on the Earth.

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