Very Clearly Visible

Very Clearly Visible

After “for all mankind,” it was straight to work.


[This piece originally appeared in the summer 2010 issue devoted to science fiction.]

Armstrong: Yes, the surface is fine and powdery. I can kick it up loosely with my toe. It does adhere in fine layers, like powdered charcoal, to the sole and sides of my boots. I only go in a small fraction of an inch, maybe an eighth of an inch, but I can see the footprints of my boots and the treads in the fine, sandy particles.

McCandless: Neil, this is Houston. We’re copying.

Armstrong: There seems to be no difficulty in moving around—as we suspected. It’s even perhaps easier than the simulations of one-sixth g that we performed in the various simulations on the ground. It’s absolutely no trouble to walk around. [Pause.] Okay. The descent engine did not leave a crater of any size. It has about 1 foot clearance on the ground. We’re essentially on a very level place here. I can see some evidence of rays emanating from the descent engine, but a very insignificant amount. [Pause.] Okay, Buzz, we ready to bring down the camera?

Aldrin: I’m all ready. I think it’s been all squared away and in good shape.

Armstrong: Okay.

Aldrin: You’ll have to pay out all the LEC. It looks like it’s coming out nice and evenly.

Armstrong: It’s quite dark here in the shadow and a little hard for me to see that I have good footing. I’ll work my way over into the sunlight here without looking directly into the Sun.

Aldrin: It’s taut now. [Long pause] I think you’re pulling the wrong one.

Armstrong: I’m just...Okay. I’m ready to pull it down now. There was still a little bit left in the...

Aldrin: Don’t hold it quite so tight. Okay? [Garbled, then pause.]

Armstrong: Looking up at the LM. I’m standing directly in the shadow now, looking up at Buzz in the window. And I can see everything quite clearly. The light is sufficiently bright, backlighted into the front of the LM. And everything is very clearly visible.

— NASA transcript following the words “for all mankind.”
Apollo 11
July 20, 1969


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