Buzz Aldrin has spent a lifetime being asked about Neil Armstrong’s famous first words upon stepping onto the moon for the first time, one time offering the view that “I was pretty close to him when he said that”.
But often lost in the mix is the larger-than-life Mr Aldrin’s own words when leaving the Eagle lunar lander and stepping onto the moon.
At the time Commander Armstrong’s “one small step” words were the lead story throughout the world, a fact one South Australian journalist listening in to the NASA radio live feed lamented in a memoir about reporting for the Adelaide News.
Aviation reporter Barrie Tornquist was invited by NASA to listen to the astronaut’s conversations from a studio behind the Adelaide Post Office, where a Woomera radio link to the moon was being relayed.
“No one on earth at that time, save radio engineers taking Woomera’s relay from our 120 degree slice of space could hear what the second man to walk on a body in space said,” the late Mr Tornquist wrote.
Mr Aldrin’s words have since been widely reported, and indeed tweeted by the man himself, with Tornquist recalling them as he heard them – in an American accent.
Wa’al, here I go, down the steps of the lunar lander to join Neil on the surface of the moon – careful not to lock the door behind me”.
Mr Tornquist recalled in his unpublished memoir that Armstrong’s historic “one small step” first words rightly led the newspaper, but he lamented: “the words of the second man to step on the moon ended up being squeezed from the paper”.
Still, the effervescent Buzz has always claimed a few firsts of his own, often retelling how moments after stepping onto the moon he became the first person to urinate on it.
“Everyone has their firsts on the moon, and that one hasn’t been disputed by anybody,” he said in the documentary In the Shadow of the Moon.