A moment on the lunar surface

The shadow of an explorer

By the flight plan:

CDR (Commander) —  Initial EVA

                   Egress to Platform

                         Release MESA

                              Descend ladder

                                   Rest/check EMU system

“OK, I’m at the foot of the ladder.”  I’m standing in the dish-shaped footpad, observing the lunar surface.

“It’s almost like powder down there….”

It’s time for the scripted step with the left foot onto the surface.  And the unscripted words.

“That’s one small step for-ah man, one giant leap for mankind.”

There, I’ve said it, and it’s back to the timeline, every minute timelined.

By the flight plan:

                    Environmental familiarization

                                  Check stability, mobility, EMU

                                          Contingency sample collection

                                           Collect and stow sample

                                                  Preliminary checks

                                                       Ck LM status

                                                        Ck lighting,  visibility

You wouldn’t think I’m the type to go off script, but I have every confidence we’ll do fine out here.  “There seems to be no difficulty in moving around.”

 So instead of grabbing the contingency sample, a small scoop of lunar soil so that we’ll come home with something in case of a sudden termination to the moonwalk . . . Instead of that , I ask you to send down the camera.  “I’ll step out and take some of my first pictures here.”  I snap a panorama of our Tranquility Base.  Until Houston and then you start bugging me to take the sample.  I take the damn sample  “. . .Contingency sample is in the pocket.”

OK, now it’s time for you to come out. 

LMP  (Lunar Module Pilot)  — 


                                      Descent to surface

                                            Environmental familiarization

                                                Check balance, stability, reach, walking, EMU

At the foot of the ladder, you exclaim, “Beautiful view.”

Standing out front, observing and photographing you and the LM, I say, “Ain’t it somethin’?  Magnificent sight out here.”

Stepping off, you say, “Magnificent desolation.”   That’s your quote for history.

And with little more than two hours timelined for the moonwalk, we begin our work.  Or, I should say, our ceremonial work.   We unveil the plaque that is on the LM.  Stand in front of it for the TV cameras, for history, which yes, I do acknowledge.  “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot on the moon.  July 1969 A.D.  We came in peace for all mankind.”

Then I work to move the camera out to its panorama position, to give the world a wider view of their Tranquility Base.

CDR — TV deployment

                Carry TV to site

                           Mount tripod, panorama, position for EVA.

We set up the flag and find it’s hard to press the staff into the lunar soil.  It begins to tip and quick we grab it, try to anchor it better, even if it’s leaning a bit.  Houston tells Mike Collins in the command ship overhead, “You can see the Stars and Stripes on the lunar surface.”

What we tell no one later is that the flag blows over when we take off.

LMP — Solar Wind Collector deployment

                        Deploy SWC in sun

CDR — Photograph SWC

                    Photo bulk sample area

                          Bulk sample collection

                                         Collect rock fragments and loose material

Before I can begin to collect samples, Houston calls us to move into camera view.  We stand by the flag as a voice says, “Hello, Neil and Buzz, I am talking to you by telephone from the Oval Room at the White House . . . “

Once free again, you romp and play, kicking lunar soil like sand on a beach, testing mobility, visibility.  I scoop up the samples, back and forth to the Modular Equipment Stowage Assembly, MESA which, swiveled out at the start of the EVA, provides a work table holding the rock boxes. 

Just two-and-a-half hours for our work, we chase the timeline                                                    

(One hour into EVA)

                               CDR — LM inspection

                                                Eval terrain, visibility

                                                Photo panorama

                                                  Take closeup photos

 LMP — remove experiments

                                               Select deploy site

                                               CDR — carry cameras

                                                LMP — carry experiments

                                                  CDR — deploy Laser Ranging Retro Reflector experiment

                                                                       Photograph experiments

                                                     LMP — deploy Passive Seismic Experiment

We set up the instruments about 70 ft. from the lander, about the furthest we are suppose to range.   The timeline has eaten us up — we’re behind by about a half hour and I still have more sample — carefully documented ones — to take.   But while you finish adjusting the seismometer and go back to the LM to take a core sample, I break from the plan.  I break free — and dash behind the LM, run 165 feet to the edge of a large crater.  It drops down before me — I calculate I can only afford three minutes for the venture.  But for those three minutes, I am a true explorer.

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