Live From the Apollo 11.
BY JIM STALLARD
July 20, 1969, 10:20 p.m. EDT
Interior of Apollo 11 lunar module
Mission Control: Okay Eagle, you’re go for the module EVA. We’ve established visual of the ladder with the external camera. You’ll be going out on a live feed so watch your step and keep it clean, gentleman!
Neil Armstrong: (Chuckling) Roger that, Houston. Just mom and apple pie.
Mission Control: Appreciated. You can go when ready. We’ve all got our fingers crossed on the dust issue.
Armstrong: Come again Houston. The what?
Mission Control: The dust.
Armstrong: What do you mean, the dust? What are you talking about?
Mission Control: Well, apparently there’s a chance the dust is pyrophoric and that when you open the door of the module, oxygen will react with the dust and explode.
Armstrong: Oh… okay. Wow… was that in the simulations? I don’t remember it.
Mission Control: There’s been some discussion with some geologists here today—we probably should have done that earlier—but you know how it is.
Armstrong: Mmm …
(90 seconds of silence.)
Armstrong: (to Buzz Aldrin) Gee, I feel kind of guilty now, having you be first. But the suit should protect you.
Aldrin: What do you mean? You’re going out first.
Armstrong: No, it’s you. I talked about this with Gene when you were asleep on the way out here. We wanted to reward you for all your service.
Aldrin: How dumb do you think I am? You did not talk about this with Gene. You’re the mission commander. The commander takes the lead on everything.
Armstrong: You’re right. I’m commanding you to go out first.
(30 seconds of silence.)
Aldrin: I didn’t sign up for this. Let’s decide this fairly. Rock, paper, scissors.
Armstrong: No, I’ve seen your rock, paper, scissors tricks—you always lag behind by a half-second.
Aldrin: We’ll flip a coin.
Armstrong: We don’t have a coin. And it would take forever to come down. I’ll pick a number between one and ten and then you try to guess it. If you’re right, I’ll go out.
Aldrin: You’re giving me a ten percent chance?
Armstrong: That’s under Earth gravity. It’s different under moon gravity—you have a 50-50 chance.
Aldrin: Okay… well… I guess seven.
Aldrin: I got it didn’t I?
Armstrong: … No.
Mission Control: Neil, Gene says to suit up and get out there. The meter’s running. You know the audio feed is still on don’t you?
Aldrin: The commander is commanded! Not to mention a liar.
July 20, 1969, 11:16 p.m. EDT
Aldrin: This feels so weird! The powder is slippery. (Jumps up and down.)
Armstrong: Stop it…
Aldrin: Look, my shoes are made of flubber. (Lopes around in high bouncing steps.)
Armstrong: Is your mike off?
Aldrin: Yes. You realize “man” and “mankind” mean the same thing don’t you?
Armstrong: I said, “a man. One small step for a man.”
Aldrin: Whatever. I thought you’d be in a better mood after not blowing up. (Begins jogging circles around Armstrong in slow motion.)
Armstrong: You need to quit prancing around. Start gathering dust and rocks. They want all kinds of samples.
Aldrin: Yes, master. (Takes a few steps and then kneels.) What in the hell… ?
Armstrong: (Comes over) What do you see?
Aldrin: Doesn’t that look like… droppings? From an animal?
Armstrong: It does, but that can’t be right. ( Removes a sensor from his belt and inserts it into one lump. ) Well, it’s warmer than the dust it’s sitting on, which makes no sense. ( Probes it with finger of spacesuit. ) Feels a lot like… dog… (gags).
Aldrin: Oh no. Don’t throw up in your mask because then I’ll throw up.
Armstrong: (Steadies himself with a few deep breaths.) Okay. If this thing is organic in any way, they’ll want to analyze it. Put it in your sample bag.
Aldrin: I’m not touching that, even through a spacesuit.
Armstrong: Well, use something to scoop it up with. Where’s that Nixon plaque?
Aldrin: It’s bolted to the ladder back on the thing. What are those… ? (Points to tracks leading away from pile.) Holy Christ on toast. Let’s get out of here.
Armstrong: I’m with you… Hang on—the camera’s going to be pointing this way when we plant the flag. (Erases tracks with his foot.) Apollo 12 can deal with this.
Mission Control: Neil, your audio signal’s been going in and out. Did you find something?
(Both men freeze and stare at one another.)
Armstrong: No, Buzz and I were clowning with you. Did you buy it? (Hits button on helmet.)
Aldrin: So your mike—
Armstrong: Save it.
July 21, 1969, 8:54 p.m. EDT
Interior of lunar module
Aldrin: I can’t believe you wouldn’t do the Iwo Jima thing with me when we planted the flag. When are we ever going to be back here?
Armstrong: I’m not going to act like a 10-year-old. And I saw you do the “hammer throw” when you thought I wasn’t looking. If we end up needing that to pound something, you’re going out and looking for it.
Aldrin: We won’t need it anymore. It’s just dead weight. I bet I got more than 500 yards on that toss.
Armstrong: If NASA comes breathing down my neck, you’re going to answer for it. It comes out of your paycheck.
Aldrin: Fine, fine, fine… so… about those things we saw. Not a word?
Armstrong: Nobody needs to know.
Aldrin: What about Mike, when we rendezvous? Shouldn’t we let him in on it?
Armstrong: No way. He tells his wife everything. It would be on the front page within 12 hours. Now get locked in. When NASA gives the word, I have to push the button with almost no warning.
Aldrin: (Peering out window at moon surface) Goodbye, magnificent desolation… Oh my god. Here it—
Aldrin: Push it Push it Push it.
SUGGESTED READSMrs. Yates’ 3rd Grade Class Receives a New Message from Space
by Christian Lynch (6/15/2010)
List: Great Quotes From the End of NASA’s Space Shuttle Era
by Jim Santel (7/7/2011)
List: Failed NASA Space Programs
by Jonathan Shipley (7/19/2006)
RECENTLYCat Performance Review
by Kendra Eash (9/18/2014)
An Excerpt from Cabinet Magazine, in Honor of the McSweeney’s/Cabinet Combo Subscription
by Katherine Hunt (9/18/2014)
826 Chicago at Pitchfork: Twin Peaks Talks Breaking a Leg, Blu-rays and, Band Advice
by 826 Chicago (9/18/2014)
POPULARClassic Movies Changed to Not Be Sexist
by Blythe Roberson (8/14/2014)
Best Joke Ever: Mitch Hedberg: Hippie Martian Zen Genius
by Mark Peters (8/28/2014)
It’s Decorative Gourd Season, Motherfuckers
by Colin Nissan (10/20/2009)