Commander Neil Armstrong and the pilot Buzz Aldrin, mission astronauts Apollo 11 of NASA, landed the Eagle lunar module on July 20, 1969, at 20.17 UTC, now half a century ago.
"Houston, here Base Tranquility. The Eagle has landed", transmitted a stolid Armstrong to the control of the mission on Earth, after a complicated final maneuver almost without fuel, in which he assumed control of the ship.
Armstrong became the first person to step on the lunar surface six hours 39 minutes later, already on July 21 at 02.56 UTC. It was then that he pronounced the historic phrase: "This is a small step for man, a great leap for Humanity"Aldrin joined him 19 minutes later, and they spent two hours doing tests, taking pictures and collecting surface samples.
Why Armstrong and not Aldrin
The NASA protocols determined that, in previous analogous cases such as spacewalks,out the youngest astronaut the one chosen to go abroad before, while the oldest was in charge of the controls of the ship.
So, in the Apollo 11 mission, the space agency planned originally Aldrin was the first man to step on the moon, and that Major Armstrong was left in charge of the lunar landing module and then go down.
But the lunar module raised design challenges that hindered this order. NASA has on its website 'Apollo Expeditions to the Moon' that the hatch opened on the opposite side where Aldrin was sitting.
"For Aldrin to come out first, it would have been necessary for a astronaut with a voluminous backpack climbed on another. When that movement was attempted, the model of the module was damaged"
Deke Slayton, selected in the first group of astronauts NASA sent to space and director of operations for NASA's flight crew, explained that allowing Armstrong to go down first was a basic protocol change, since it was the commander of the mission.
According to this NASA story, Armstrong said that he was never asked his opinion about if he wanted to be the first man to go out and the decision It was not based on rank.