Thursday, July 23, 2015

Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin Reminisce about Working for NASA

NASA photo from Buzz Aldrin's 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).”

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).”

The 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.

Neil Armstrong's telephone rings. It’s his Apollo 11 colleague, Buzz Aldrin on the line:

Neil:  Hello?
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 by mistake.

Neil:  Taped over it! What did they tape, for cryin’ out loud?
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 that
           fancy NASA equipment to record Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In on  
          Monday nights!
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 fix.

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 are
           Buzz Aldrin!”

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 it down.

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
           Hawn out of it!