Buzz Aldrin inside the LM during Apollo 11 (NASA)
The LM above the moon's surface (NASA)
On the morning
of July 20, 1969, Collins helps Armstrong and Aldrin through a tunnel
into the tiny Eagle.
Alone on Columbia, Collins worries about his friends. "You cats take it easy on the lunar surface," he tells them over the radio.
Armstrong and Aldrin fly face down, then flip over and see Earth a quarter-million miles away. When they are just 12 minutes from landing, they fire the engines. Suddenly, lights flash in the cockpit. "Program alarm!" Armstrong barks. The computer is overloaded. Tense minutes pass while Mission Control decides if this alarm requires an abort. Mission Control says to keep going.
flips over again and Armstrong and Aldrin face the Sea of Tranquility,
the place they are supposed to land. The problem: it's a sea of
rocks! Armstrong skims over boulders and flies over craters. Finally,
he sees a clear spot. He has to come down exactly straight or risk
breaking one of the Eagle's landing legs. They descend like
an elevator. Only 20 seconds of fuel remain! Dust blows. Aldrin
"Houston, Tranquility Base here," Armstrong says. "The Eagle has landed!"
young flight controller named Steve Bales had to decide if it
was safe to land on the moon when the computer alarm sounded.
He decided it was. He was given a Medal of Freedom from the
President for his quick thinking. If he had decided it wasn't
safe, how might people have viewed his actions differently?