Wednesday marks the 42nd anniversary of man landing on the moon. One small step, and all that.
It's an odd anniversary, the 42nd, so here are five odd facts about the mission.
5. Buzz Aldrin, First Man to Piss on the Moon One giant leak for mankind -- Neil Armstrong may have been the first man to set foot on the moon, but Buzz Aldrin was the first one to take a leak on it. As millions watched across the globe unknowingly, Buzz let loose the floodgates and enjoyed a good old session of draining the lizard. The Moon Lizard.
4. NASA Thought Hard about Not Putting up a Flag In what we don't doubt was definitely not a silly exercise, diplomats from around the world agreed that the moon could not be the property of any country who, say, got there first and claimed it like Columbus.
Still, the urge to plant an "America, fuck yeah!!" flag was enormous. NASA, you'll be glad to know, had a Committee on Symbolic Activities for the First Lunar Landing, popularly known (we guess) as CSAFLL. They debated options that might not offend other countries but would still be flag-like, including "an adaptation of the solar wind experiment in the form of a flag," according to NASA's report.
Eventually, of course, the Stars and Stripes were so proudly hailed, once the astronauts fought their way through the rocky surface, very, very nervous that they wouldn't get a good plant and the flag would topple over in front of the world.
3. First Drink on the Moon: Vino, Baby Get that Tang shit out of here. You're one of the first men in history to land on the moon, you want something that will give you a buzz, man. Let you enjoy the moment, you know?
So the first drink ever imbibed on the moon was....wine. We know not if it was Annie Greensprings, Ripple or Boone's Farm, it being the late '60s and all, but it was wine.
Aldrin had smuggled along some wine and a wafer so he could have communion on the moon, was the official story, but really he was already trying to drink away the whole "second man on the moon" thing. 2. No One at NASA Knew What the Hell Neil Armstrong Was Talking about with his "Tranquility Base" Stuff One thing NASA doesn't like is surprises. Everything is meticulously planned out, and that's what happened on Apollo 11 with the notable exception of what Armstrong's first words would be. (We get the feeling that if it was modern-day NASA involved, no astronaut would be allowed to just wing those first words without running them by a committee that would also offer many suggestions.)
The words "Tranquility Base" did not show up in any preflight documents for the moon mission. The plan was just to use the name of the Lunar Module, as in "Houston, this is Eagle." Instead Armstrong threw them a curve when he announced, "Houston, Tranquility Base here; the Eagle has landed."
The name stuck, of course, and now it's even an officially designated place name: It's Statio Tranquillitatis on lunar maps.
1. Neil, You're Just Not Worth Taking a Picture of Armstrong and Aldrin had a Hasselblad camera with them on the surface. More than 100 pictures were taken; Neil Armstrong is in exactly one of them. (He shows up, obviously, on TV footage.)
It's true he was the one toting the camera most of the time; it's also true that when he gave it to Aldrin for a while, Buzz shot pictures of rocks.
As the photography Web site The Sterile Eye puts it:
It's been speculated if it was a deliberate decision by NASA to let Armstrong take most of the photos, and so give Aldrin, forever the second man on the moon, a bigger place in the limelight. Whatever is true, Aldrin himself states that Armstrong simply was a much better photographer than himself.
Neil, I swear I woulda taken more photos of you, but you know me! I can't shoot for shit, unless it's rocks!! Sorry, pally!
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.