On July 20, 1969, NASA’s Apollo 11 spaceflight landed the first two men – Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin – on the Moon. Armstrong became an overnight sensation, burying the US flag into the lunar surface and bringing an end to the Space Race. However, that was not the most exciting part for the legendary astronaut.
Armstrong, who notoriously hated interviews, made a rare exception to speak to a young Neil deGrasse Tyson, the American astrophysicist revealed in a recent episode of his StarTalk podcast.
Dr Tyson said: “This is one year after the last mission to the Moon, which is 1972 and four years after he walked on the Moon.
“He’s alone, so I said ‘Mr Armstrong’ and I showed him my programme with his picture on and said ‘would you mind signing this?’
“He signs it, and I just said thank you, but when I next saw him I showed him that (the programme).
Neil Armstrong revealed his best memory from Apollo 11
Apollo 11 took place 50 years ago
My most indelible memory was approaching the Moon
“I don’t want to project what he might have been thinking, but I think he saw that I had become somebody.
“The interview was brief, but I have it.”
Dr Tyson then played the recording of him asking Armstrong what his most memorable experience of the Apollo 11 mission was.
Armstrong replied: “My most indelible memory was approaching the Moon and flying through the Moon shadow so the Moon was eclipsing the Sun.
“We could see the corona all around the Moon, it was not circular, it was elliptical, which was a big surprise, I didn’t understand that.
Dr Tyson has his own podcast called StarTalk
“And then we could see the Moon, the dark side of the Moon, of course, illuminated by Earth light.
“We could see the craters and the valleys and the plains in a blue-grey three-dimensional view that was spectacular.
“The texture, the image, remarkable, but imperceptible to a camera.
“But [from] the human eye it was wonderful.”
The episode also featured former NASA astronaut Mike Massimino, who revealed he also got the chance to meet Armstrong.
He detailed his experience with Armstrong
50 years after the moon landing, Tyson played the audio
He said: “We were at a luncheon going on, because it was a reunion as well as him coming in for his physical.
“I ended up next to him on the food line, you know, making a sandwich.
“He’s next to me and I said to myself ‘I have to say something to this guy’ and I don’t know how it happened, but [it was] serendipitous.
“I asked him, ‘when did you think of that first thing that you said on the Moon, one small step for man?’
“I said ‘did your wife tell you? Or was it a publicist? How did you come up with this?’”
Moon landing timeline
However, Mr Massimino revealed Armstrong’s confession over the origin of his deliberation.
He added: “He turns to me and he said ‘I thought about it only after we landed.
“‘Because if we didn’t land I wouldn’t have to say anything, it wouldn’t make a difference,’ so he concentrated only on the landing.
“I think what he was doing, the message he was trying to get to me as a new astronaut is you take care of business first and you worry about that other stuff later.
“So his focus was landing on the Moon.”