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Buzz Aldrin

Buzz Aldrin flew on Gemini 12 and Apollo 11. With Neil Armstrong, he made the first human landing on the moon on July 20, 1969.

On Apollo 11: "So it surprised me that during that time, Neil chose to make the call to Houston Tranquility Base that the Eagle has landed."
As soon as we touched down, I knew we'd done it, but I knew that there were certain discrete times after the nominal touchdown, if something was wrong, you don't want to abort right away, you want to wait until this discrete time, because there are more favorable rendezvous conditions. After about two minutes, then it's too late really, because if you were to lift off after two minutes after the normal landing, Mike Collins is going around and around and he's too far ahead for you to catch up to him in a reasonable time, and he's going to have to do some other maneuvers so that you can catch up with him. So those first couple of minutes are very crucial to look around and see if everything is okay and hope that the Earth is measuring everything of the status of all your pressure systems, and your tanks, and your electrical systems, because if you do have to abort, you should do it right away. And I felt that that was a fairly critical time, so it surprised me that during that time, Neil chose to make the call to Houston Tranquility Base that the Eagle has landed. It surprised me a little bit, because we never trained to do that, because we didn't want to tell them back in the simulators in the training what we were going to say after we landed, and I expected he would wait until we'd been there [and] that we could monitor those things. But it's something that is a surprise, but then you understand—well, that's the way you should do it; you should call right away, things like that.

On Apollo 11: "Well, the first thing that I wanted to do when I got on the surface was to hold on and to just sort of bounce around."

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Well, the first thing that I wanted to do when I got on the surface was to hold on and to just sort of bounce around and check the mobility that I had and then let go and see what the footing was like. All that took was maybe 30 seconds or a minute to feel that I knew how to move around with great confidence, and that's all the later crews really needed to do. So I was doing that for my benefit but for their benefit too. And later on in the spacewalk outside, when I jumped around and pranced around, again I was doing that for the benefit of the people back on Earth to see, and to measure what the mobility was like, so that it would give something in addition to our verbal description of observations when we got back. The things that we did on that first mission I felt were done to make later missions more successful. So we would look and see what the condition of the lander was, take pictures of it, so that later on the people wouldn't have to spend the time doing that. Our mission really was to put out some simple experiments: the laser reflector, the passive seismometer, to verify that the leveling devices and the antennas worked, to do some quick sampling of the surface. Because our lander was heavier than the later landers, we didn't have the room for the consumables, or the margin, to be able to stay out to go twice, for example, or to stay out even longer. Whatever the flight plan, and the engineers decided what our mission was going to be, and how many hours we could stay out, that was it; there wasn't any point in saying "Well, hey, let's change that so instead of staying out two and a half hours, we can stay out four hours." Gee, the guys did the calculations and they said that's what you could do, so that's what we stuck with.

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Photo: NASA



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