Buzz Aldrin Wants to Know: Where Were You When Apollo 11 Landed on the Moon?

by Nancy Atkinson on July 7, 2014

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If you are 45 years or older, chances are you know where you were and what you were doing on July 20th, 1969 when Apollo 11 landed on the Moon. Apollo 11 lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin says that when he travels around the world, people always want to tell him their stories from that day when he and Neil Armstrong walked on the Moon. And he says he actually likes to hear all these stories because he and his crewmates missed all the hubbub back on Earth, since they were decidedly off making history.

And now you can tell Buzz your story own story about Apollo 11, and share it with the world, as well. To celebrate the upcoming 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing, Buzz has just launched a social media campaign where you can share your story, your parents’, your grandparents’, or your friends’ stories of that moment and how it inspired you.

“I feel we need to remind people about our Apollo missions and that we can still do impossible things,” Buzz says in this new video, above.

Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin plant the US flag on the Lunar Surface during 1st human moonwalk in history 45 years ago on July 20, 1969 during Apollo 1l mission. Credit: NASA

Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin plant the US flag on the Lunar Surface during 1st human moonwalk in history 45 years ago on July 20, 1969 during Apollo 1l mission. Credit: NASA

You can tell your story on social media, using the hashtag #Apollo45, or visit the Apollo45 You Tube Channel where you can post a video of your recollections. Videos will be shared from the public as well as featured videos from astronauts, public figures and celebrities.

This can be a family and/or generational project. As Buzz says, “Kids, help your parents if they don’t know how to use their smartphones. Get them to tell you their memories.”

We’d also like to see your stories here on Universe Today. Post in the comment section below and if you create a video, post the link.

I’ll start with my story:

I was quite young, but I do remember sitting on the floor with my sister in front of the television set, basically glued there since we didn’t want to miss a thing. We felt really lucky because our parents let us stay up late to watch the first moonwalk. Later, my Mom got me a T-shirt that had an eagle (bird) landing on the Moon with an Apollo 11 mission patch and the date “July 20, 1969″ emblazoned on it, and I basically wore it non-stop.

Hat tip to Leonard David for letting us know about #Apollo45!

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also is the host of the NASA Lunar Science Institute podcast and works with Astronomy Cast. Nancy is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

skywise July 8, 2014 at 12:08 PM

Well, my story is not one that I intend to post for the whole world to see, but I’ve no qualms about sharing it with the Universe Today community.

I’ve had an interest in space exploration and astronomy for as long as I can remember. My family and friend began calling me Skywise at around the age of 3. That interest lead me to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering, though the level of correction that I required (and still require) for my vision automatically disqualified me from pursuing any sort of career in flight. My personal belief, however, is that my interest was pre-programmed into me.

My birthdate, you see, was April 21, 1970. That’s 9 months, and 1 day after the Apollo 11 moon landing.

What was I doing when man first walked on the moon? Being conceived.

~Skywise
Aka Mark

GotToBTru July 8, 2014 at 1:52 PM

I watched the landing on TV at home. It was 11 days before my 7th birthday. I was completely unaware they landed so low on fuel. After they had landed, I went outside. I knew the moon was visible, and I also knew there was no way I would be able to see them … but I looked anyway. Back on TV, I remember seeing Neil Armstrong coming down the ladder and on the surface of the Moon. I am sure I watched for as long as they broadcasted. My dad was a history professor, and this was history.

Gary Lazich July 8, 2014 at 4:24 PM

I was 15 at the time and, like Nancy, sat on the floor glued to the TV set. I do remember vividly that the first transmission from the Moon had an upside-down image that finally righted itself and wondered if Mission Control had told Neil Armstrong to wait on the ladder until they could fix the problem.

Duncan Lunan July 8, 2014 at 5:43 PM

The Scottish spaceflight society ASTRA was founded by the late Prof. Oscar Schwiglhofer from Transylvania, who studied physics under Hermann Oberth before World War 2. Colour TV was new in the UK and Oscar bought one specially so he could throw an all-night party for the landing. I was 23 then and one highlight for me was that I had been following the ‘Jeff Hawke’ strip in the Daily Express since it began in 1954. I remembered that it had predicted in 1959 that the first Moon landing would be on August 4, 1969. I reminded the paper of that and as a result the artist, Sydney Jordan, was interviewed on both BBC and ITV that night.

Manu July 9, 2014 at 8:53 PM

Fast asleep in bed. My parents hadn’t allowed me to go watch it on the neighbors’ tv, because it happened in the middle of the night here. I was 8.
Nancy, you still got that t-shirt? ;)

Hugh Blair-Smith July 17, 2014 at 8:16 PM

I was at home with my wife and very young son, after a day of work at MIT’s Instrumentation Laboratory where my colleagues were actively supporting the mission. It was mighty exciting to watch the outcome of my nine years of work on the Apollo Primary Guidance Navigation and Control System. That includes my pre-Apollo work in 1960 on designing what later became the Apollo Guidance Computer. I thought of how you and we were colleagues back in your “Dr. Rendezvous” days at MIT, though you and I didn’t talk much then because you had other things on your mind than programming the AGC. During Powered Descent, I knew enough to ask “What the hell is a 1202 alarm?” but not enough, then, to answer the question.

When EVA time finally came, my wife and I woke our baby boy and propped him up in front of our new 12-inch TV set, telling him to pay attention. Being only one month old, he wasn’t able to express his appreciation, but he was there, witnessing. I knew enough about Neil Armstrong’s cool systematic approach to be puzzled by his leaving out that small word in “One small step for [a] man …” and let the question simmer in the back of my mind for decades.

With the other Lab rats, I puzzled over the 1202 and 1201 alarms, learning what they were, learning something about how the Rendezvous Radar interface had created a filibuster of useless bits that wasted so much of the AGC’s time, but not learning how such a near-catastrophic situation could arise in a well-managed project. I never liked the notion that “Buzz put the switch in the wrong position” was the root of the problem, so that made another question to simmer for decades.

After retirement in 2005, I started my book on how Apollo and the Space Shuttle looked from the point of view of engineering the on-board computers. At the 40th anniversary celebrations at MIT, you asked me “How could MIT think ‘Dr. Rendezvous’ wouldn’t want the Rendezvous Radar on during descent?” How indeed! You sure turned up the heat under that simmering question.

Writing history demands resolution of simmering questions, and so eventually I did. My research showed that what you wanted with that radar was rational and prudent, and that you meticulously followed the mandated process to make it so. Everybody else involved, taken one by one, was also rational and prudent, yet the combination of half a dozen factors came together in a way no one was able to perceive as a real risk.

I also addressed the other simmer by making an educated guess at how Neil’s little word got lost on its way to the world’s TV sets. I’ve given papers on both subjects at Digital Avionics Systems Conferences, but they are also key parts of my forthcoming book, “Left Brains for the Right Stuff: Computers, Space and History,” now in editing, likely to publish in 2015. In addressing the question of what the space race achieved, I suggest how the transition of space travel from a competitive to a globally cooperative activity points the way to achieving more of those “impossible things.”

rbmartiniv July 19, 2014 at 7:24 PM

I had been drafted into the Army, trained in artillery, and ordered to Vietnam. I had moved my wife back to her parents home because she was expecting our first child. On the day of the moon landing my in-laws were in their bedroom, watching television. I vividly remember standing in the door to their bedroom and watching the moon landing. My son had been born only 3 days earlier and I would be leaving for Vietnam 3 days after the moon landing. We had the technology to put a man on the moon but we were still training men to kill each other like cavemen.

I got to meet Buzz Aldrin a few years ago. We were both at a small cocktail party one evening in Sun Valley, Idaho. I felt very honored to be able to leisurely converse with him about the moon landing, NASA, and the future of manned space flight. One of the things I remember the most from our conversation was Buzz telling me that the only reason Neil Armstrong was the first one out of the hatch and onto the moon’s surface was because Neil’s seat was next to the hatch. Buzz would have had to climb over Neil if he was to be the first to exit and apparently that would have been a no-no as far as NASA was concerned.

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