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When Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon, he said "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." Now what I was wondering was whether he just thought of it when he stepped on the moon, or was it a pre-planned phrase that was thought about prior to launch?

Here's an interesting one...

On July 20, 1969, at 10:56 p.m. ET, Neil Armstrong planted his left boot on the moon and said, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

Very soon after it was announced that Neil Armstrong would be the first human to walk on the moon, people began to ask him what words he would utter on this monumental occasion. His mail had been full of suggestions, including verses from the Bible, passages from Shakespeare, and countless others. Everyone from the press to his simulator instructor had brought it up. Even Collins and Aldrin are on record of having asked him on the way to the moon.

If it hadn't been for the fact that everyone made such a big deal of it, Armstrong probably wouldn't have thought of it at all. But the world was asking for historic words for a historic occasion. Inside the Eagle, already landed on the moon, Armstrong could delay no longer. He began to think of the first step he would take from Eagle's ladder. He pondered the paradox of such a small step being of such importance. And it was here that Armstrong's famous words became finalized.

Another interesting tidbit of lunar landing trivia is that Armstrong later reported that he intended to say," small step for a man," but the indefinite article is missing from the recorded transmissions. In 1971, a writer asked him whether the "a" had been lost in transmission or simply forgotten. Armstrong, savoring the ambiguity, replied, "We'll never know."

Submitted by Karin
(August 4, 1997)

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