“One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” It’s a phrase well known in popular culture, but little can truly capture the spirit of adventure and scientific exploration like Neil Armstrong’s first steps onto the lunar surface. The NASA astronaut passed this weekend at the age of 82, described as “one of America’s greatest explorers” by agency administrator Charles Bolden, but we can relive that fateful moment on the Moon today.
The live broadcast itself, on July 21 1969, was watched by an estimated 600m people back on Earth. The cameras Armstrong and fellow astronaut Buzz Aldrin used was a slow-scan system, incompatible with broadcast television, and so NASA was forced to re-record it using a regular camera pointed at a TV screen back at base.
Extended Apollo 11 moon landing:
Unfortunately, the original slow-scan footage was accidentally wiped at NASA, so that the tape itself could be used. However, video of the fateful step was restored back in 2009, giving a hitherto-unseen crisp glimpse of the moment Armstrong stepped onto the moon.
“One small step for man…”
Exactly when humans may next walk on the moon is unclear. The most recent exploratory plans in the solar system have used automated and/or remotely-controlled robots, such as the Curiosity rover currently trundling across Mars, rather than manned missions.