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Apollo 11 Moments Of Wonder

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon on this very day in 1969.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

NEIL ARMSTRONG: Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.

MARTIN: Before that moment, though, as their Apollo 11 craft hurdled out into space for the historic mission, the astronauts, along with a third, Michael Collins, let their guard down and just sat in marvel at what they were seeing.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MICHAEL COLLINS: I have no conception of where we're pointed or which way we are or a crapping thing. But it's a beautiful low pressure cell out here.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The Apollo astronauts had just completed their first orbit of Earth after launch, and they were marveling at that view.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ARMSTRONG: Stand by for the gimbal motors off.

COLLINS: Pitch one, off. Mark.

BUZZ ALDRIN: Got it.

COLLINS: YAW 1, off. Mark.

ALDRIN: Got it.

COLLINS: Pitch two, off. Mark.

GREENE: Now, we should remember these are highly trained professionals going through checklist after checklist to make sure everything is in place for those first steps on the moon.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

COLLINS: The moon is there, boy, in all its splendor.

ARMSTRONG: Man, it's a...

COLLINS: Plaster of Paris gray to me.

ARMSTRONG: Don't look at it. Here we come up.

COLLINS: OK.

MARTIN: Here they are entering lunar orbit debating the color of the moon's surface.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ALDRIN: Woo. Well, I have to vote with the 10 crew. That thing is brown.

COLLINS: Sure is.

ARMSTRONG: Looks tan to me.

COLLINS: But when I first saw it, at that other sun angle, it really looked gray.

MARTIN: Gray, tan, whatever the color of the moon's surface, the astronauts did complete that historic mission.

GREENE: Yeah. Their professionalism, their courage, their wonder all still remembered 51 years later.

(SOUNDBITE OF AK'S "WANDERLUST") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.