Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin, Michael Collins


Photo of Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin, Michael Collins

Astronauts of Apollo 11:(from left to right- Michael Collins, Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin)


Neil Armstrong Spoke on the Moon


Following a decade of national effort in space, three American astronauts reached the moon on July 20, 1969. While Michael Collins orbited the moon in the command ship "Columbia," Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin descended to the lunar surface in the lunar module "Eagle." As Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the moon, he spoke the celebrated sentence, "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind." Several weeks after their return to earth, the three astronauts spoke to a Joint Session of Congress on September 16, 1969.




Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, it is with a great sense of pride as an American and with humility as a human being that I say to you today what no men have been privileged to say before; "We walked on the moon." But the footprints at Tranquility Base belong to more than the crew of Apollo 11. They were put there by hundreds of thousands of people across this country, people in government, industry and universities, the teams and crews that preceded us, all who strived throughout the years with Mercury, Gemini and Apollo.

Those footprints belong to the American people and you, their representatives, who accept it and support it, the inevitable challenge of the moon. And, since we came in peace for all mankind those footprints belong also to all people of the world. As the moon shines impartially on all those looking up from our spinning earth so do we hope the benefits of space exploration will be spread equally with a harmonizing influence to all mankind. Scientific exploration implies investigating the unknown. The result can never be wholly anticipated. Charles Lindbergh said, "Scientific accomplishment is a path, not an end, a path leading to and disappearing in mystery."

Our steps in space have been a symbol of this country's way of life as we open our doors and windows to the world to view our successes and failures and as we share with all nations our discovery. The Saturn, Columbia, and Eagle and the Extravehicular Mobility Unit have proved to Neil, Mike and me that this nation can produce equipment of the highest quality and dependability. This should give all of us hope and inspiration to overcome some of the more difficult problems here on earth. The Apollo lesson is that national goals can be met where there is a strong enough will to do so.

The first step on the moon was a step toward our sister planets and ultimately toward the stars. "A small step for a man," was a statement of a fact, "a giant leap for mankind," is a hope for the future.

What this country does with the lessons of Apollo apply to domestic problems, and what we do in further space exploration programs will determine just how giant a leap we have taken. Thank you.


Mr. President, members of Congress, and distinguished Guests:

One of the many things I have very much enjoyed about working for the space agency, and for the Air Force, is that they have always given me free rein, even to the extent of addressing this most august assemblage without coaching, without putting any words in my mouth. Therefore, my brief remarks are simply those of a free citizen living in a free country and expressing thoughts that are purely my own.

Many years before there was a space program my father had a favorite quotation f "He who would bring back the wealth of the Indies must take the wealth of the Indies with him." This we have done. We have taken to the moon the wealth of this nation, the vision of its political leaders, the intelligence of its scientists, the dedication of its engineers, the careful craftsmanship of its workers and the enthusiastic support of its people. We have brought back rocks and I think it's a fair trade. For just as the Rosetta Stone revealed the language of ancient Egypt, so may these rocks unlock the mystery of the origin of the moon, of our earth, and even of our solar system.

During the flight of Apollo 11, in the constant sunlight between the earth and the moon, it was necessary for us to control the temperature of our space craft by a slow rotation not unlike that of a chicken on a barbeque spit. As we turned, the earth and the moon alternately appeared in our windows. We had our choice. We could look toward the moon, toward Mars, toward our future in space--toward the new Indies--or we could look back toward the earth, our home, with its problems spawned over more than a millennium of human occupancy.

We looked both ways. We saw both, and I think that is what our nation must do.

We can ignore neither the wealth of the Indies nor the realities of the immediate needs of our cities, our citizens, or our civics. We cannot launch our planetary probes from a springboard of poverty, discrimination or unrest. But neither can we wait until each and every terrestrial problem has been solved. Such logic two hundred years ago would have prevented expansion westward past the Appalachian Mountains, for assuredly the Eastern Seaboard was beset by problems of great urgency then, as it is today.

Man has always gone where he has been able to go. It's that simple. We will continue pushing back his frontier, no matter how far it may carry him from his homeland.

Some day in the not-too--distant future, when I listen to an earthling step out onto the surface of Mars or some other planets just as I listened to Neil step out onto the surface of the moon, I hope I hear him say f "I come from the United States of America!"


We landed on the Sea of Tranquility, in the cool of the early lunar morning, when the long shadows would aid our perception.

The sun was only ten degrees above the horizon, while the earth turned through nearly a full day during our stay, the sun at Tranquility Base rose barely eleven degrees--a small fraction of the month-long lunar day. There was a peculiar sensation of the duality of time--the swift rush of events that characterizes all our lives--and the ponderous parade which makes the aging of the universe.

Both kinds of time were evident--the first by the routine events of the flight--whose planning and execution were detailed to fractions of a second--the latter by rocks round us, unchanged throughout the history of man--whose three-billion-year--old secrets made them the treasures we sought.

The plaque on the "Eagle" which summarized our hopes bears this message;

Here men from the planet earth first set foot upon the moon July l969 A.D.

We came in peace for all mankind whose nineteen hundred and sixty--nine years had constituted the majority of the age of Pisces--a twelfth of the great year that is measured by the thousand generations the precession of the earth's axis requires to scribe a giant circle in the heavens.

In the next twenty centuries, the age of Aquarius of the great year, the age for which our young people have such high hopes, humanity may begin to understand its most baffling mystery--where are we going? The earth is, in fact, traveling many thousands of miles per hour in the direction of the constellation Hercules--to some unknown destination in the cosmos. Man must understand his universe in order to understand his destiny.

Mystery, however, is a very necessary ingredient in our lives.

Mystery creates wonder and wonder is the basis for man's desire to understand. Who knows what mysteries will be solved in our lifetime, and what new riddles will become the challenge of the new generations? Science has not mastered prophesy. We predict too much for next year yet far too little for the next ten. Responding to challenge is one of democracy's great strengths. Our successes in space lead us to hope that this strength can be used in the next decade in the solution of many of our planet's problems.

Several weeks ago I enjoyed the warmth of reflection on the true meaning of the spirit of Apollo.

I stood in the highlands of this nation, near the Continenta1 Divide, introducing to my sons the wonders of nature, and pleasures of looking for deer and elk.

In their enthusiasm for the view they frequently stumbled on the rocky trails. But when they looked only to their footing, they did not see the elk. To those of you who have advocated 1ooking high we owe our sincere gratitude, for you have granted us the opportunity to see some of the grandest views of the Creator.

To those of you who have been our honest critics, we also thank, for you have reminded us that we dare not forget to watch the trail. We carried on Apollo 11 two flags of this Union that had flown over the Capitol, one over the House of Representatives, one over the Senate.

It is our privilege to return them now in these halls which exemplify man's highest purpose--to serve one's fellow man.

We thank you, on behalf of all the men of Apollo, for giving us the privilege of joining you in serving--for all mankind.