On July 20, 1969, NASA completed the seemingly impossible Apollo 11 mission to put the first two men – Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin – on the Moon. Armstrong made history, jumping off the lunar lander Eagle and delivering his legendary “one small step” speech to the millions of anxious people watching back on Earth. However, the journey there was not quite as memorable as the cameras made out, according to Aldrin.
In an interview with Al Roker for TODAY in 2017, he even claimed the liftoff – which puts the human body through the equivalent of three times the force of gravity on Earth – was just a doddle.
He said: “There was not a sensation of leaving the ground.
“You look around and you know up here [in space] that things haven’t changed in 100,000 years.
“But it [Earth], was just grey, I don’t want to talk about how many different shades, but I wasn’t afraid.
Buzz Aldrin said he did not feel the sensation of lifting off
Aldrin was speaking in 2017
There was not a sensation of leaving the ground.
“There’s no point in worrying about something that hadn’t happened yet.”
Pressed by Mr Roker if he would return to space again, perhaps to Mars, Mr Aldrin outright ruled it out, claiming the experience is not for him anymore.
He added: “No, what do you mean? I’m a dash man, I’m not a long-distance outdoors man.
“But some people are and we need them, they’re called explorers.
“I’m an explorer of numbers, circles, graphs and I’m of more value right where I am.”
The Saturn V rocket taking off
On return to Earth, Armstrong was questioned by the general public for shying away from the limelight and notoriously avoiding interviews, leading some to question the authenticity of the mission altogether.
However, Neil deGrasse Tyson put any speculation to bed earlier this year during an episode of his StarTalk podcast, confirming this was natural behaviour for Armstrong.
He told listeners in July: “Neil Armstrong was not gregarious, he was a very quiet man and did not seek publicity.
“He’s sitting there, in his head, figuring stuff out, it’s the active mind of a restless brain of the engineer.
This is what was captured.”
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Aldrin also said he has no intentions to return to space
The Apollo 11 team in 1969
Fellow NASA astronaut Mike Massimino was a guest on the show and gave his own verdict.
He added: “When I first met Neil, he got up in front of us and it was like we’re meeting our hero.
“He’s the man, right? But he gets up there and it seemed like he was almost painfully shy, like it was hard for him to talk.
He didn’t mention the Moon at all, he talked about test flying and how important that is and how you have to be diligent about it and how much he loved it.
“After he was done we got to the questions and answers, then we asked him what it was like on the Moon.
“But up to that point, he was delivering his message and almost painfully shy, but he loved so much what he did that’s what he focused on.”
Dr Tyson pressed: “Do you think NASA chose him to be the first on the Moon because he does not seek publicity?
“If they got some grandstanding ‘look at me, I’m on the Moon’ guy, he would be like ‘here’s my book about me being on the Moon’ and ‘here’s my talk show and interview’.
“Do you think they thought it through?”
Mr Massimino agreed momentarily, before adding why he changed his mind.
Moon landing timeline
He explained: “I think that they picked someone humble.
“Actually, I used to think that maybe at first, but I think lately, in the last few years, I’ve changed my thinking of it.
“Because I think that is almost too much thinking.
“I think really what they saw was this was the right man to land on the Moon.”