When Neil Armstrong stepped out of Apollo 11 onto the surface of the moon, millions watched the transmission of the momentous moment. His statement “that’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind” became one of the most famous quotes in history.
Yet there is some dispute about the quote, many of the people who heard his transmission reportedly did not pick up the “a” which alters the meaning of the statement somewhat. I hadn’t even been born when Armstrong stood on the moon’s surface, yet I too remember the infamous quote as coming minus the “a”.
When you look at the sentence without the “a” it refers to “man” as in humanity in the same way as the reference to “mankind” is made in the latter part of the statement. Armstrong himself was adamant that he did include the “a” however in a 1999 interview, the astronaut admitted that he could not hear it in the audio recordings of the historic event, suggesting that perhaps they had been wiped out by transmission static.
Now though, 3 months after Armstrong passed away at the age of 82, a recent documentary that includes rare interviews with his family has revealed the origin of the statement and that it was supposed to include the “a”!
The documentary aired on the UK channel, BBC 2 on Sunday 30th December and in it, Neil’s brother Dean Armstrong revealed that his brother scripted the line prior to the legendary moon landing. Previously the infamous astronaut had always maintained that the legendary statement came to him just prior to the moon walk, however this new information suggests that it had been something he was thinking of for a long time.
Dean Armstrong said that he handed him the scripted phrase on a piece of paper whilst the pair were playing a game of Risk, just before the Apollo 11 crew made their way to Cape Canaveral, where they would be spending a few months preparing for the launch.
Dean maintained that the statement was “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”
The documentary entitled “Neil Armstrong – First Man on the Moon” also gives audiences some new understanding into why he avoided the public eye and media attention after returning from the moon landing.
Just two years after walking on the moon, Armstrong resigned from NASA and went to work as a university engineering lecturer, rarely making public appearances. His family has suggested that he suffered from anxiety about how to beat this moon achievement and how to deal with becoming an international icon!
Source: The Telegraph