On July 20th, 1969, with “one small step, ” Neil Armstrong became the first person to walk on the moon. Since that date forty five years ago, the moon landing has been the subject of intense study and historical analysis. From what Armstrong actually said with his first step to if the American flags the astronauts planted are still there, mankind’s first rendezvous with the moon has captured the world’s attention in a way few other things have. Despite this, there are still several noteworthy facts that have remained obscure after all these years. Allow us to bring just a few to (moon) light:
Neil Armstrong was chosen to be the first person on the moon due to the basic structural design of a part of the Eagle.
Out of a group of 29 astronauts that trained for the Apollo mission to the moon, only three were chosen when the final announcement was made in January of 1969. Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, and the oft forgotten Michael Collins became the official crew of Apollo 11. Immediately, attention turned to which crew member – Armstrong or Aldrin — would be the first to walk on the moon (Collins was the command module pilot and, therefore, was ineligible).
Even though both men were going to walk on the moon, it was a great honor to be the first. In fact, the question was asked at the press conference and the response was that it had yet to be decided.
Over the next four months, as the astronauts continued their training, debate and rumors circulated among the media. At first, it seemed that Aldrin would have the honor. This speculation came from the precedent set by the Gemini program, which made ten crewed flights for the purpose of testing ships and astronauts to spacewalk. During the flights, the commander (which Armstrong was to be for Apollo 11) stayed inside the ship while the pilot (which Aldrin was to be for Apollo 11) did the space walking. Further fueling this thinking was that it was rumored that Aldrin was actively campaigning to be the guy. According to the memoir written by Chris Kraft, head of Mission Control, “Buzz Aldrin desperately wanted that honor and wasn’t quiet in letting it be known.”