Brother Says Neil Armstrong's 'One Small Step' Speech Pre-Planned

Wednesday, 02 Jan 2013 02:14 PM

By Megan Anderle

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A new documentary questions whether Neil Armstrong's famed "one small step" line was unplanned, as the first man on the moon had maintained until his death in September.

Armstrong's brother, Dean, recently said the astronaut planned the speech months before landing on the moon in July 1969. Dean Armstrong said he clearly recalled his brother showing him a draft of the speech well before the Apollo 11 launch.

Dean Armstrong also said the oft-repeated speech included the letter "a" — "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind." Dean Armstrong said static during the transmission made the "a" inaudible to millions who heard it.

Neil Armstrong himself has said he used an "a" in the speech, but defended the spontaneity of the speech until he died, according to The Telegraph. In countless interviews and in his autobiography he claimed he came up with the speech hours after the spaceship touched down on the lunar surface.

Three months after the space pioneer's death, in a BBC interview for the documentary "Neil Armstrong: First Man on the Moon," Dean discredits what Neil Armstrong had said his entire life.

Dean Armstrong recalls the moment when his brother showed him a draft of the line. The two were playing the board game Risk.

“He says, 'What do you think about that?' I said 'fabulous.' He said 'I thought you might like that, but I wanted you to read it.'"

The Daily Mail reports that in one of the biographies of the Apollo moon effort, "A Man on the Moon" author Andrew Chaikin says that as the mission launch neared Neil Armstrong was bombarded with suggestions for what he should say if the crew successfully made it to the moon — which included passages from the Bible and Shakespeare.

Chaikin implied that Neil Armstrong wasn't lying. He didn't know what to say until after Apollo 11's Eagle lunar lander had touched down on Tranquility Base.

"As he thought about the first step he would take from Eagle's footpad he pondered the inherent paradox — a small step, yet a significant one — and he knew what he would say," Chaikin said.

The speech is among the most famous in U.S. history but has been surrounded by a cloud of doubt for more than 40 years about what he actually said.

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