Neil Armstrong Lied About Famous Words?

    January 2, 2013
    Amanda Crum

When Neil Armstrong uttered his famous first lines on the moon in 1969, millions of Americans were stunned speechless by the history they were watching–and hearing–unfold on their television screens. But now, over 40 years later, a documentary featuring the astronaut’s brother claims that the “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” quote was planned out months ahead of time and was slightly different than what we all heard.

Dean Armstrong says in “Neil Armstrong: First Man On The Moon” that his brother showed him a slip of paper when they were playing the board game RISK–months before the moon landing–and asked for his opinion on the ideas he had written there. On the paper was written, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind”.

Neil Armstrong claimed in 1999 that the quote had included an “a”, but couldn’t be heard because of radio static; several years later, an analysis of his voice waves confirmed that there was something said in that breath of space between “for” and “man”. The documentary claims he never admitted that the quote was planned ahead of time because he didn’t want interference.

“If Neil Armstrong says there was an ‘a,’ then as far as we’re concerned, there was ‘a,” NASA spokesman Michael Cabbage said.

Of course, some are wondering how important that tiny article is considering it was said so long ago and under such important circumstances. But with just one letter, the meaning of the quote is altered quite a bit. For decades, Armstrong has been quoted as uttering a phrase which is redundant; that “a” means he was marking his physical departure from the lunar module and comparing it to an achievement for humanity.

Image: NASA