“As I made my way down the ladder, I partially closed the hatch, being
careful not to lock it on the way out (there wasn’t a handle on the door).”
This week marked the anniversary of the
first manned lunar landing on July
20, 1969. It was Apollo 11, and Neil Armstrong became the first
human to set foot on the moon, “One small step for a man, one giant leap for
mankind.” There were a couple of items about that mission that I learned this
week. Buzz Aldrin (the second man on the moon) posted on his Facebook page, “As
I made my way down the ladder, I partially closed the hatch, being careful not
to lock it on the way out (there wasn’t a handle on the door).”
second item of interest was a Reuters headline from 2009 that a friend sent: “Moon
landing tapes got erased, NASA admits.” With these two bits of information, I
came up with an imaginary conversation between Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.
Since Neil Armstrong died in 2012, it is possible that this conversation, or
one like it, could have taken place.
Armstrong's telephone rings. It’s his Apollo 11 colleague, Buzz Aldrin on the
Buzz: Neil, it’s me, Buzz.
Neil: Oh, hi, Buzz. What’s up?”
Buzz: Hey, did ya hear about what
happened at NASA?
Neil: No, what?
Buzz: You know that scratchy staticy recording of
your first words on the moon? Well
NASA accidentally erased it!
Neil: Erased it? What the ––! So I said it was one
small step – I didn’t mean it was
insignificant. But that’s what it’s like in government work, isn't it?
Buzz: Yeah, apparently they taped over it
Neil: Taped over it! What did they tape, for cryin’
Buzz: Who knows? Hubble pictures from
deep space, maybe – or Martian shots
from Rover? Hell, they could have even used it to tape Oprah’s final
broadcast for all we know. You remember Finnegan? He used to use all
fancy NASA equipment to record Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In on
Neil: Get out!
Buzz: If I’m lyin’ I’m dyin’. You know
Finnegan had that photo of Goldie Hawn in
a bikini at his work station.
Neil: And all in the name of science! Go figure!
Buzz: Well, I don’t know how it happened,
but they erased it, alright. I guess you
and I are just old news, buddy.
Neil: That sounds like NASA.
Buzz: Yeah, you remember when we were
doing all those trial runs before the big
launch? And that first time
they told us to make sure we didn’t lock the
hatch on the way out?
Neil: Yeah, can you believe it? “There’s no handle
on the door,” they said.
Buzz: That’s it! I had this fear that I’d
follow you down the ladder and hear a
crazy “click” when I shut the hatch. Uh-oh! That would have been some
Neil: Yeah – then I’d be thinking, “one small step –
and one big dufus for a moon
Buzz: Can you imagine what Collin’s would
be saying up in the command
module? He’d be like, “Houston, we’ve got a problem – and his initials
Neil: I’m just glad we remembered all the steps and
made it back home.
Buzz: You know, Neil, I think I’ve still
got a tape of that lunar landing down in the
basement. It’s over there with
the vinyl LPs that I can’t play anymore. You
want me to send it?
Neil: No, Buzz, you don’t have to send it. I saw it
last week on YouTube. I can see
it any time I want, as long as nobody takes
Buzz: Well, I gotta go Neil. I’ve got a
lecture date. There’s a third grade class over
at Park Elementary waiting to hear
about the Apollo missions.
Neil: Well just tell ‘em the good stuff, Buzz. Leave
the tape glitches and Goldie