Forty-five years ago today, at 10:56 p.m. EDT, Neil Armstrong took the most famous step of the 20th century. With more than half a billion people watching, the commander of the Apollo 11 climbed down the spacecraft’s ladder and on to the surface of the moon and proclaimed the unforgettable words: “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”
To commemorate this anniversary, NASA has released a restored version of the television broadcast of the Apollo 11 moon landing. (If you just can’t wait to hear those famous words, fast forward to three minutes, 30 seconds in.) In this three-hour video, you can hear NASA public affairs commentary and communications between Mission Control in Houston and the astronauts: Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, who joins Armstrong on the lunar walk, and and Michael Collins, who orbits in the command module Columbia.
Besides Armstrong’s first steps, other highlights include the planting of the U.S. flag (around 47 minute in), a telephone call with President Richard Nixon (Around 56 minute in: “This certainly has to be the most historic telephone call ever made,” Nixon says) and the general back and forth between the astronauts and Mission Control. As Armstrong descends the ladder, you can hear his very first observations about what the lunar surface is like. He describes it as a very fine grain, “like powdered charcoal.”
At around 48 minutes in, Collins is teased for being about the only person who isn’t watching TV coverage of the event. He says to Houston: “How is the quality of the TV?” Houston replies: “It’s beautiful Mike, it really is.” And it is, even for 2014.
On Monday NASA will rename a building at Kennedy Space Center in Florida in memory of Neil Armstrong, who died in 2012. Aldrin and Collins will be in attendance and NASA TV will air live coverage of the event.