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One small step for man, or for 'a' man ?

Posted on Tuesday, 28 August, 2012 | Comment icon 16 comments | News tip by: Karlis


Image credit: NASA

 
Over the years there has been much debate over what words Armstrong used in his famous phrase.

"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." It's one of the most recognizable phrases in history, Neil Armstrong uttered these famous words as he stepped on to the lunar surface as the first human ever to walk on another world. But has history got it right ? After returning to the Earth, Armstrong pointed out that his actual words were "one small for a man", but that the "a" was too quiet to hear properly on the recording.

NASA has always supported Armstrong's position on the matter, claiming that there was indeed an additional "a" in the statement. In 2006 a computer analysis conducted by Peter Shann Ford also seemed to confirm that there was a missing word in there but that it was too quiet for a human to pick up. Smithsonian's space curator, Roger Launius, also reviewed this evidence and found the conclusions convincing.

"I thought about it after landing," Armstrong had said in 2011 interview. "It, you know, was a pretty simple statement, talking about stepping off something. Why, it wasn't a very complex thing. It was what it was."

"The astronaut acknowledged during a 30th anniversary gathering in 1999 that he did not hear himself say it either when he listened to the transmission from the July 20, 1969, moon landing."

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 Source: New Zealand Herald


  Discuss: View comments (16)

   


 
Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #7 Posted by Karlis on 28 August, 2012, 12:02
Interesting how one singular word can make such a difference.. If we say it was (the usually accepted) *man* and *mankind*, it's basically saying the same thing. i.e., *man* & *mankind* can both be taken to be referring to humans as a species. When thought of as *a man* and *mankind*, it makes much more sense... *a man* suddenly becomes an individual person.. "One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind" makes much more sense when considering the enormity of the event. For me it will always be *a man* Or am I overthinking this too much? As you write, "One small step for a man, one... [More]
Comment icon #8 Posted by King Fluffs on 28 August, 2012, 13:46
It's a quote I believe most, if not all people in the civilized world have heard.
Comment icon #9 Posted by Karlis on 28 August, 2012, 13:59
It's a quote I believe most, if not all people in the civilized world have heard. Hi King Fluffs -- the quote the world knows is: "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."What Armstrong actually said included the indefinite article, "a", thus what Armstrong actually said was: "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind." Nit-picking? Maybe. Below is an axcerpt from the article in the OP Was the walk on the moon one small step for man, or a man? Neil Armstrong's first words from the moon were heard all over Earth, and Earth heard this: "That's one small step ... [More]
Comment icon #10 Posted by Taun on 28 August, 2012, 14:11
The broadcast was a bit staticy (if that's a word) and it seems to have either lost signal strength for a fractional instant right at that moment, or the microphone just didn't pick up the 'a' at the same level as the rest of the statement... 'a man' does make more sense - though I always thought that what 'man' could have meant was 'man' as in the species, and 'mankind' as in civilization... (at least thats what I thought at the time)...
Comment icon #11 Posted by 27vet on 28 August, 2012, 17:15
I remember listening to it on the radio, as there was no TV in S.A. in those days. I always wondered what he meant and it only became apparent years later when the debate started.
Comment icon #12 Posted by Ryegrog on 29 August, 2012, 2:48
To me it's not important what he said. The great feat of landing on the moon and returning to tell about it is the big picture. God Bless Neil Armstrong.
Comment icon #13 Posted by Likely Guy on 29 August, 2012, 4:43
"That's one small step..." Was the greatest understatement in history from the world's most modest hero. They don't make them like that anymore. *edit: add Buzz Aldrin and Mike Collins* Unless today, there exists a super energetic youngster, with all the smarts and energy that will take humankind to Mars in a few generations. That will be another "...giant leap, for all mankind".
Comment icon #14 Posted by Walter White on 29 August, 2012, 23:07
If he says he said it that's good enough for me. Agreed. If Neil Armstrong claims he said "One small step for a man", then as far as I'm concerned he said it.
Comment icon #15 Posted by cerberusxp on 30 August, 2012, 2:55
I watched it as it happened and in the 70's "man" still meant all humans in that type of reference. " One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" those words still echo in my mind exactly the way he said them, being I was not quite a teen yet. It was very impressionable. Then again it may be we didn't hear the A was because he was exerting energy to take the step and wasn't audible enough.
Comment icon #16 Posted by Opinionist on 12 September, 2012, 4:52
The one who actually said it had confirmed it already, so why argue.


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