We're ready now for questions and answers and wait for
the microphone and we'll go right down the line and we'll
catch everyone if you will just be patient.
How much time did you have left in your life-support backpacks
at the time you got back on board the LM?
I haven't seen the post-flight analysis of the numbers.
We had roughly half of our available oxygen supply
remaining in the backpacks and somewhat less percentage
in the water supplies, which are used for cooling. Of
course, particularly on our first experience with the use
of that backpack on the lunar surface, we were interested in
conserving a good bit of margin, in case we had difficulty
with closing the hatch or repressuring the LM, or had any
difficulties with getting the systems operating again in
a normal fashion inside the cockpit.
Colonel Aldrin and Mr. Armstrong; when President Nixon made
his phone call to you on the Moon, it looked like
the two of you suddenly stopped doing everything and stood
there and listened and talked to him. It looked there for
a moment like you might be a little bit aware of what
was going on. Was there ever a moment on the Moon where
either one of you were just a little bit spellbound
by what was going on.
About 2 1/2 hours.
I'd like to ask Neil Armstrong when he began to think
of what he would say when he put his foot down on the lunar
surface and how long he pondered this -- this statement
about a small step for man, gigantic leap for mankind.
Yes, I did think about it. It was not extemporaneous,
neither was it planned. It evolved during the conduct of the
flight and I decided what the words would be while we
were on the lunar surface just prior to leaving the LM.
I'd like to ask Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, and I'm
not quite sure how to ask this question, when you first
stepped on the Moon, did it strike you as you were stepping -- that
you were stepping on a piece of the Earth, or sort
of what your inner feelings were, whether you felt
you were standing on a desert or that this was really another
world, or how you felt at that point.
Well, there was no question in our minds, where we were.
We'd been orbiting around the Moon for some time. At
the same time we had experienced one-sixth G before.
We've been exposed, to some degree, to the lighting that we
saw. However, this was, in my case, an extremely foreign
situation with the stark nature of the light and dark
condition, and of course we first set foot on the
Moon in the dark shadow of the area.
It's a stark and strangely different place, but it looked
friendly to me and it proved to be friendly.
Some people have criticized the space program as a
"Misplaced item on a list of national priorities." I'd like to ask
any of the astronauts how do you view space exploration
as a relative priority compared with the present needs of
the domestic society and the world community at large.
Well, of course we all recognize that the world is continually
faced with large number of varying kinds of
problems, and that it's our view that all those problems have
to be faced simultaneously. It's not possible to
neglect any of those areas, and we certainly don't feel that
it's our place to neglect space exploration.
There was a lot of discussion during the flight-during the
power descent portion of the flight -- about the program
alarms and so forth. I wondered if you all could describe
your thoughts on the subject, how it went and what advice
you might have to offer the crews of Apollo 12 and subsequent
flights for this portion of the mission?
Well, I think we pretty well understand what caused these alarms.
It was the fact that the computer was in the
process of solving the landing problem and at the same
time we had the rendezvous radar in a powered-up
condition and this tended to add an additional burden to
the computer operation. Now I don't think either the
ground people or ourselves really anticipated that this
would happen. It was not a serious program alarm. It just told
us that for a brief instant the computer was reaching a
point of being overprogrammed or having too many jobs for
it to do. Now a computer continually goes through a wait
list of one item after another. This list was beginning to
fill up and the program alarm came up. Unfortunately it
came up when we did not want to be trying to solve these
particular problems, but we wanted to be able to look out
the window to identify the features as they came up so that
we would be able to pinpoint just where, in the landing
ellipse stage, the computer was taking us.
Suppose we were carrying on a rapid fire conversation with
the computer at that point, but we really have to give
the credit to the control center in this case. They were
the people who really came through and helped us and said
"continue", which is what we wanted to hear.
Gentlemen, you're about to take some tours. I wonder what your
feelings are. Is that perhaps the most difficult part
of the mission or are you looking forward to it?
It's certainly the part that we're least prepared to handle.
What do you consider the most important piece of advice and
recommendation that you will give the Apollo 12 crew
before they take off for the Moon in November, gentlemen?
I didn't hear the first part. Recommendations for 12 in which?
Which would be the most important piece of advice or recommendation
for the Apollo 12 crew?
I think that we can say that overall we wouldn't change the plan
that we used or the plan that they intend to use.
You know that there are a large number of individual details which
we think could stand improvement and we have
had the opportunity in the past couple of weeks to go over those
details with the crew members and various people
from around the program. In general l'd say that we wouldn't
recommend any major changes in the plan.
Will you recommend any changes in procedures for the Moon-walking
and exploration procedure and did you find
that your suits were mobile enough in view of the changes or
would you recommend further mobility features for
them for operation on the Moon?
Well, one gets used to the type mobility that your suit affords
you and of course we would like to always have more
and more dexterity with arms moving and fingers moving. These
things are under study. Of course the Apollo 12
mission will have two different periods of EVA: one early in the
mission, and then a sleep period, and then another
EVA following that. We in general looked at their plans and we
talked to them about the durations. We talked to
them about a brief period at the beginning of their EVA for
their familiarization with the EVA, the one-sixth G
environment. I don't think we have any particular recommendations
for how they should change their mission. It is
a continuing evolvement of EVA capability and scientific exploration
that they're undertaking on that flight.
I would like to ask Colonel Aldrin if he would elaborate a little
bit on his comment earlier about having to anticipate
where you were going to walk three or four steps in advance
as compared to just one or two on Earth. Did you
mean that in respect to avoiding craters or deep pits or what?
Well, I meant it with respect to the inertia that the body
has in moving at this rate of five to six miles an hour that
we found to be fairly convenient. Due to the reduced force
of gravity your foot does not come down so often, so
you have to anticipate ahead and control your body movement and
since you foot is not on the surface for a long
period of time in each step you're not able to bring to bear
large changes in your force application which would
enable you to slow down. So in general we found we had to
anticipate three or four steps ahead instead of maybe
that one or two that you do on the surface of the Earth.
You are now national heroes and you've had a couple of weeks in
isolation in the LRL to think about that. What are
your initial feelings about being heroes? How do you believe it
will change your lives and do you think that maybe
you'll get another chance to go to the Moon or are you going to
be too busy being heroes?
Probably to get an answer to that question we might have to
spend as long preparing as we had to prepare for
Apollo 11. In the Lunar Receiving Laboratory we had very
little time for meditation, as it turned out, we were quite
busy throughout the time period with the same sort of things
that the crews of past flights have done after their
flights. The debriefing schedules and writing the pilot
reports and getting all the facts down for the use of all the
people who will include that in the future flights.
I'm struck from the movies and the still pictures by the
difference in the very hostile appearance of the Moon when
you're orbiting over it or some distance from it and the
warmer colors and the relatively apparently more friendly
appearance of it when you're on the surface. I'd like to
ask Colonel Collins if he gets that same impression from the
pictures and the two of you who were on the Moon, what
impression do you have along those lines?
The Moon changes character as the angle of sunlight
striking its surface changes. At very low Sun angles close to
the terminator at dawn or dusk, it has the harsh, forbidding
characteristics which you see in a lot of the photographs.
On the other hand when the Sun is more closely overhead,
the midday situation, the Moon takes on more of a brown
color. It becomes almost a rosy looking place -- a fairly friendly
place so that from dawn through midday through
dusk you run the whole gamut. It starts off very forbidding,
becomes friendly and then becomes forbidding again as
the Sun disappears.
Neil, were you and Buzz -- did you get the feeling that you were
getting a little low on fuel during the landing? Were
you concerned at that point about being low on fuel; and the
second part of it, I suppose for Buzz, is, out of your
experience how tough do you think that pin-point precise landing
will be on the lunar surface on future flights?
Yes, we were concerned about running low on fuel. The range extension
we did was to avoid the boulder field and
craters. We used a significant percentage of our fuel margins and we
were quite close to our legal limit.
What changes will be based on your experience?
Well, I think it requires some very pinpoint determination of the
orbit that the vehicle is in before it begins power
descent. This requires extreme care in making sure of ground
tracking because the entire descent is based upon the
knowledge that the ground has and puts into the onboard
computer exactly where the spacecraft is and this starts
several revolutions before and then is carried ahead as the
computer keeps track of the craft's position. So during
sequences like undocking we have to be extremely careful
that we do not disturb this knowledge of exactly where it
is, because this then relates in the computer to bringing the
LM down in a different spot than where everyone
thought we were coming. This is what defines the error
ellipse, where we might possibly land having targeted for
the center. Now the ability to be able to control where
you are requires that you be able
to identify features and, of course, in our particular
landing site this was selected to be as void of significant features
as possible to give us a smoother surface. In any area
like this there are always certain identifying features that you
can pick out -- certain patterns of craters -- to the extent
that this can be used. lf the crew sees that they are not going
exactly toward the preplanned point, they can begin to
tell the computer to move to a slightly different landing
location. Now this can occur up in the region of 5 to 6
thousand feet. Then as Neil took over control of our
spacecraft to extend the range to get beyond this large
crater -- West Crater -- this again may be required if identification
is made in the vicinity of 3, 4 or 5 hundred feet to be
able to maneuver that last few seconds in the vicinity of 1000
or 2000 feet to make a pinpoint landing. So much
depends on the early trajectory, the ability to then redesignate,
and the final manual control.
For Mr. Armstrong and more on the landing. Did you at any
time consider an abort while you were getting the
alarms and so forth?
Well, I think -- in simulations we have a large number of
failures and we are usually spring-loaded to the abort
position and in this case, in the real flight, we are
spring-loaded to the land position. We were certainly going to
continue with the descent as long as we could safely
do so and as soon as program computer alarms manifest
themselves, you realize that you have a possible abort
situation to contend with, but our procedure throughout the
preparation phase was to always try to keep going as
long as we could so that we could bypass these types of
The computer was continuing to issue guidance throughout
this time period and it was continuing to fly the vehicle
down in the same way that it was programmed to do.
The only thing that was missing during this time period is that
we did not have some of the displays on the computer
keyboard and we had to make several entries at this time in
order to clear up that area.
Would the crew consider a Moon mission of a similar
nature again or would you prefer to have some other kind of
mission; and secondly, I think this question was asked,
but I did not get the complete answer. How do you propose
to restore some normalcy to your private lives in the years ahead?
I wish I knew the answer to the latter part of your question.
It kind of depends on you. But I think that the landings
that are presently considered for the next
number of flights are appropriate to the conclusions that
we reached as a result of our descent. I would certainly
hope that we are able to investigate the variety of types
of landing sites that they hope to accomplish.
I have two brief questions that I would like to ask, if I may. When
you were carrying out that incredible Moon walk, did you
find that the surface was equally firm everywhere or
were there harder and softer spots that you could detect. And,
secondly, when you looked up at the sky, could you
actually see the stars in the solar corona in spite of the glare?
The first part of your question, the surface did vary in
its thickness of penetration somewhere in flat regions. The
footprint would penetrate a half an inch or sometimes
only a quarter of an inch and gave a very firm response. In
other regions near the edges of these craters we could
find that the foot would sink down maybe 2, 3, possibly 4
inches and in the slope, of course, the varlous edges of
the footprint might go up to 6 or 7 inches. In compacting
this material it would tend to produce a slight sideways
motion as it was compacted on the material underneath it.
So we feel that you cannot always tell by looking at the
surface what the exact resistance will be as your foot sinks
into a point of firm contact. So one must be quite
cautious in moving around in this rough surface.
We were never able to see stars from the lunar surface
or on the daylight side of the Moon by eye without looking
through the optics. I don't recall during the period of
time that we were photographing the solar corona what stars
we could see.
I don't remember seeing any.
Neil, you said you were a little bit concerned you said
about stubbing your toe at the point of landing because the
surface was obscured by dust. Do you see any way
around that problem for future landings on the Moon?
I think the simulations that we have at the present time to enable
a pilot to understand the problems of a lunar landing (that
is, the simulator and the various lunar landing training
facilities and trainers that we have) will do that job
sufficiently well. Above that, I think it is just a matter
of pilot experience.
This is for Neil Armstrong. You said earlier in your
presentation that Maskelyne W. occurred about three seconds
later giving you the clue that you might land somewhat
long. Now this was before you got the high gate so that it
had nothing to do with maneuvering to find a suitable
place to land. I am wondering what would have caused this
three seconds delay. Did it have something to do with the
time that you began the powered descent or what?
The time that we started powered descent was the planned
time but the question is where are you over the surface of
the Moon at the time of ignition and where that point is, is
largely determined by a long chain of prior events:
tracking that has taken place several revolutions earlier the
flight maneuvers that have been done in checking out the
rate control systems, the undocking and the ability to
stationkeep accurately without ever flying very far away
from where the computer thinks you ought to be at that
time. And, of course, the little bit of dispersions in a
maneuver such as the deal I burned on the back side of
the Moon that were not quite properly measured by the
guidance system. Each of those things will accumulate
into an effect that is an error -- a position error -- at ignition and
there is no way of compensating until you get to final
phase for that error.
Based on your own experiences in space, do you or any of you
feel that there will ever be an opportunity for a
woman to become an astronaut in our space program?
Gosh, I hope so.
I would like to refer back to something that Neil Armstrong
said a while back, that there was so many other things
he would have liked to have done. As it was, you ended
up a considerable number of minutes behind the schedule.
Is that because the schedule was overloaded for the EVA
or can we expect all astronauts, when they reach the Moon
for the first time, to enjoy themselves and spend as much
time doing so as you seemed to?
We plead guilty to enjoying ourselves. As Buzz mentioned
earlier, we are recommending that we start future EVA's
with a 15- or 20-minute period to get these kinds of things
out of the way and to get used to the surface and what
you see, adapt to the 1/6 G in maneuvering around and
probably we just included a little more in the early phase
than we were actually able to do.
Two questions. Where did the weird sounds including the
sirens and whistles come from during the transearth
coast. I believe ground control had asked for explanations
saying it had come from the spacecraft. Secondly, I
understand that although low-angle lighting caused no
problem walking around, there was a problem seeing
obstacles in time when traveling at high speeds. I understand
this might indicate the need for flying machines rather
than a rover for long distance lunar surface travel.
Can you explain this?
We are guilty again. We sent the whistles and -- (Laughter) and bells --
with our little tape recorder which we used to
record our comments during the flight in addition
to playing music in the lonely hours. We thought we'd share that
with the people in the Control Center. The Sun angle
was less a problem for the things you mentioned than the
lunar curvature and the local roughness. It seemed to
me as though it was like swimming in an ocean with 6-or 8-foot
swells and waves. In that condition, you never can see very
far away from where you are. And this was even
more exaggerated by the fact that the lunar curvature
is so much more pronounced.
This is for Mr. Armstrong. Had you planned to take
over semi-manual control, or was it only your descent toward
the West Crater that caused you to do that?
The series of control system configurations that were used
during the terminal phase were in fact very close to what
we would expect to use in the normal case, irrespective of
the landing area that you found yourself in. However, we
spent more time in the manual phase than we would have
planned in order to find a suitable landing area.
Many of us and many other people in many places have
speculated on the meaning of this first landing on another
body in space. Would each of you give us your estimate
of what is the meaning of this to all of us?
You want to try it?
Well, I believe, that what this country set out to do was
something that was going to be done sooner or later whether
we set a specific goal or not. I believe that from the early
space flights, we demonstrated a potential to carry out this
type of a mission. And again it was a question of time until
this would be accomplished. I think the relative ease
with which we were able to carry out our mission which,
of course, came after a very efficient and logical sequence
of flights . . . I think that this demonstrated that we were
certainly on the right track when we took this commitment
to go to the Moon. I think that what this means is that
many other problems, perhaps, can be solved in the same way
by making a commitment to solve them in a long time
fashion. I think, that we were timely in accepting this
mission of going to the Moon. It might be timely at this
point to think in many other areas of other missions that
could be accomplished.
To me there are near and far term aspects to it. On the
near term, I think it a technical triumph for this country to
have said what it was going to do a number of years ago,
and then by golly do it just like we said we were going to
do ... not just, perhaps, purely technical, but also a triumph
for the nation's overall determination,
will, economy, attention to detail, and a thousand and one
other factors that went into it. That's short term. I think,
long term, we find for the first time that man has the
flexibility or the option of either walking this planet or some
other planet, be it the Moon or Mars, or I don't know
where. And I'm poorly equipped to evaluate where that may
lead us to.
I just see it as beginning, not just this flight, but in this
program which has really been a very short piece of human
history -- an instant in history -- the entire program. It's a
beginning of a new age.
Neil, how much descent fuel did you have left when
you actually shut down?
My own instruments would have indicated less than 30
seconds, probably something like 15 or 20 seconds, I think.
The analyses made here on the ground indicate something
more than that, probably greater than 30 seconds or
45. That sounds like a short time, but it really is quite a lot.
This is for Colonel Collins. You used a rather colorful
expression when there seemed to be some problem with
docking. Could you tell us precisely what was going on
at that time? Were you docked and then --
Are you referring to the lunar orbit docking when after the
two vehicles made contact, a yaw oscillation developed?
This oscillation covered, perhaps, 15 degrees in yaw
over a period of one or two seconds and was not normal. It was
not anything that any of us expected. It was not a serious
problem. It was all over in an additional six or eight
seconds. The sequence of events is that the two vehicles
are held together initially by three capture latches and then
a gas bottle, when fired, initiates a retract cycle which
allows the two to be more rigidly connected by 12 strong
latches around the periphery of the tunnel. Now this takes
six or eight seconds for this cycle, between initial contact
and the retract. And it was during this period of time, that
I did have a yaw oscillation, or we did. Neil and I both
took manual corrective action to bring the two vehicles
back in line. And while this was going on the retract cycle
was successfully taking place. And the latches fired,
and the problem was over.
Two questions. Col. Aldrin, the pictures taken on the
surface, your fold portrait, show the distinct smudges of lunar
soil on your knees. Did you fall down on the surface or
kneel? And then for Mr. Armstrong, during the last few
minutes there, before the landing when the program alarms
were coming on and et cetera, would you have gone
ahead and landed had you not had ground support?
To my recollection, my knees did not touch the surface
at any particular time. We did not feel that we should not do
this. We felt that this would be quite a natural thing to
do to recover objects from the surface, but at the same time
we felt that we did not want to do this unless it was
absolutely necessary. We found quite early in the EVA that the
intersurface material did tend to adhere considerably
to any part of the clothing. It would get on the gloves and
would stay there. When you would knock either your
foot or your hand against something, you would tend to shed
the outer surface of this material, but there remained
considerable smudges. I don't know how that got on the knees.
Neither of us fell down. We would have continued the
landing so long as the trajectory seemed safe. And a landing
is possible under these conditions, although with
considerably less confidence than when you have the information
from the ground, and the computer in its normal
manner is available to you.
For Mr. Armstrong and Col. Aldrin. Would you please
give us a bit more detail about your feelings, your
reactions, your emotions during that last several hundred
feet of powered descent? Especially when you discovered
that you were headed for a crater full of boulders and
had to change your landing spot.
Well, first say that I expected that we would probably
have to make some local adjustments to find a suitable
landing area. I thought it was highly unlikely that we
would be so fortunate as to come down in a very smooth area,
and we planned on doing that. As it turned out, of course, we
did considerably more maneuvering close to the
surface than we had planned to do. And the terminal phase
was absolutely chock full of my eyes looking out
the window, and Buzz looking at the computer and
information inside the cockpit and feeding that to me. That was a
My role during the latter two hundred feet is one of
relaying as much information that I can that is availabie inside
the cockpit in the form of altitude, altitude rate, and
forward or lateral velocity. And it was my role of relaying this
information to Neil so that he could devote most of
his attention to looking out. What I was able to see in terms of
these velocities and the altitudes appeared quite similar
to the way that we had carried out the last two hundred, one
hundred feet in many of our simulations.
Thus ended the Apollo 11 post-flight press conference.
Twenty-seven days elapsed between liftoff at Cape Kennedy
and this report to the people. Only history will bear witness
to the importance of the events that took place during this period.