Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
Forty years since Apollo 11 - first manned mi -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

Forty years since Apollo 11 - first manned mission to the Moon

In 2009 we're celebrating 40 years since Apollo 11 became the first manned mission to the Moon.
Twenty years later, and twenty years ago, Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and
Buzz Aldrin gave a press conference in Washington. Today we replay excerpts from that press


Robyn Williams: I think you may have noticed we landed on the Moon exactly 40 years ago. The
Science Show celebrated last week, as did Catalyst on ABC television. Today let's hear from the
astronauts themselves, reflecting at a press conference 20 years ago, starting with Buzz Aldrin.

Buzz Aldrin: Apollo, to me, was a response to a challenge. It has been termed by many as one of the
most audacious endeavours in human history. About a year ago, I elected to make an effort at
putting down some of my reflections as to what I thought the significance was of the putting
together of that event and the achieving of it, and it's available in the form of Men From Earth
right now.

I had hoped that, along with that, this might become a catalyst to chart a new course, perhaps
because I got caught up in the enthusiasm of the '60s and of achievement that we were all a part
of, perhaps wishful thinking. I felt that this situation would be a very ripe one for the
leadership of our nation to chart a new course, a bold course. I feel certainly that we will have a
course charted for human expansion outward.

Bill Heinz: Bill Heinz of the Chicago Sun Times. How are you? For Neil Armstrong. In Houston on the
5th July, I believe it was, of 1969, I asked you if you had thought of any memorable words to say
as you landed on the Moon. You said you had not. Then, on 20th when you did land, you gave us some
very memorable words indeed, and I'm wondering when it came to you exactly what would be the
appropriate thing to say?

Neil Armstrong: Well, it was a statement that was natural in the sense of the time. It was a step
and a step, and I thought about it really after we got there.

Frank Miles: Frank Miles, Independent Television News, London. Since one of the main purposes of
the Apollo program as a whole was to gather Moon rock, and during the course of the six landings
850 pounds, some seven and a half hundredweights, was gathered, and in excess of 90% of that still
lies untouched in a vault in Texas. Would you like to comment, Mr Armstrong or Dr Aldrin?

Neil Armstrong: Yes, I think that was superb idea. It may be that we don't have the opportunity to
return to the Moon in the next decade or two. During that time period, new analytical techniques
and experimental devices will be invented which will allow far more understanding of those samples
than we have available to us with our current equipment and techniques. So the fact that we're
saving large amounts of that rock for future use I think is perceptive and wise.

Eda Molinari: I'm Eda Molinari from Familia Cristiani, Italy. How did your great experience change
your inner life?

Neil Armstrong:: Well, before 1969, the press conferences were much smaller.

Dick Juliano: Dick Juliano from AP Radio. For Mike Collins and Buzz Aldrin. It's estimated that it
costs as much as $300 million to launch a space shuttle, and it could cost $30 billion to build the
Space Station. That money could build a lot of houses here in the United States and feed a lot of
hungry children. What would you say to Americans to justify the resources that go into space, as
opposed to being spent here at home?

Buzz Aldrin: I'd look at the numbers. We're putting less than 1% of our budget into the space
program. I certainly think it's well worth that and more. We could carry out, I think, a very
credible, expansive program for less than 2% of our budget. I don't really believe it's up to us to
make value judgments as to exactly how that ought to be spent. I think we're expected to be firm
advocates for the business that we were in for a good bit of our life, and I think we certainly
are. We advocate expansion of space activities as much as possible.

Michael Collins: I would just say that it's the responsibility of a government to take care of
present needs and to anticipate future directions. And it seems to me that less than a penny on the
federal dollar is not an excessive amount to look toward our future.

We're a nation of explorers. If we had pursued the logic that says you have to take money from the
space program and put it into restoring the cities, we would never have ventured beyond Jamestown
or Plymouth, because certainly they were squalid little settlements with problems that dwarf the
problems of cities today, and we never would have gotten west beyond the Appalachian Mountains had
we decided to render those little colonies perfect before we continued our exploration, and I think
that the same thing is true today.

Muriel Pearson: Muriel Pearson, CBS News. This is a question for all of you. What was the moment of
greatest personal fear for each of you during the flight, besides knowing that you'd have to face
all of us when you get back?

Buzz Aldrin: Compared to that, all the rest sort of pales into insignificance.

Neil Armstrong: I would just answer the thing you fear the most is the unexpected. We used to spend
a lot of time practicing our responses to various kinds of failures and abnormal circumstances, and
I think we felt fairly comfortable with most of the kinds of things that might happen. The ones you
worry about are the ones you didn't foresee and didn't properly prepare yourself for.

Michael Collins: Well, I would say flying to the Moon is a long and delicate daisy-chain of events;
any link in the chain, if it gets severed, ruins the whole thing. The one wasn't fear,
but it was mistrust, the one that I mistrusted the most was the rendezvous part. That was the thing
that was on my mind primarily was bringing this ungainly looking critter back up from the surface
of the Moon successfully.

John Getter: John Getter, KHOU-TV. Gentlemen, I think what we're all struggling to try to explain
here, maybe you can help us with, is an understanding of what was different then from what is now
that allowed the whole world to get behind such a project for a short time? Is it simply that the
Russians aren't as bad a guys as they used to be, that we have done this, some combination? Is it
just the times? What?

Buzz Aldrin: I think we all sense what you're trying to point at. Those years that were ripe for a
commitment of that nature in the '60s were ones of international uncertainty and perhaps a bit of a
questioning of where our technical competence was relative to some of the unknowns, exactly what
the Soviets were able to do then.

A lot of that certainly has changed now, but I think we all sense that there's an exponential
increasing of technology and capabilities to do things, and certainly space is a challenge to go
out there. And just naturally we would like to expect responses to come to that challenge of the
frontier, the cutting edge of technology demonstrations, to respond with a significant growing
series of achievements.

The capability technically does exist to do a lot of things, but also their price tag begins to go
up rather significantly, and that tends to space them out a little. But once establishing an
expectation of interesting, significant achievements of technology in space, I think we'd all just
naturally like to see them continuing on in some fashion.

Michael Collins: President Kennedy said that we were going to land a man on the Moon and return him
safely to Earth, that was his goal. President Bush, whom I consider to be a president as dynamic as
Kennedy, I think, in today's climate would have to say, 'I think we ought to dedicate ourselves to
the goal of perhaps considering appointing a commission, after due deliberation with the Congress
of investigating the feasibility of certain long-range goals for the space program, perhaps even
including a mission to Mars.' You know, it's just a sign of the times. The times are a lot more
complicated today, plus there were a couple of precipitating events that caused Apollo to be
launched that do not exist today.

Max Gomez: Max Gomez from KYW-TV in Philadelphia. You've all expressed some significant support for
an expanded role of America and space exploration and a permanent place in space. The public, I
think the problem is they don't understand exactly why is it important that we continue to explore.
And is that important for America? Is it important for perhaps mankind in general to continue to
explore? And then, just as importantly, because it's part of the argument that keeps going back and
forth even within NASA, does man need to be part of that exploration?

Neil Armstrong: I think it's a good question and a fair question and probably the question; what is
it about exploration? And I think it's just inherent in the human condition. I don't know whether
we have an exploration gene or whether it's something that we acquire. I think we have a curiosity
gene and that's very, very close to exploration, but people have always gone where they've been
able to go. Some tribes have been happy to stay in the rainforest, but if you go back to the
littoral nations of Western Europe, they've always had an obsession to go out to the far corners of
the globe and it's just inherent in us and I think particularly in this country. We are a nation of
explorers. I mean, we've started on the east coast, we went to the west coast and then vertically.
I mean, starting with the Wright brothers, Yeager through the sound barrier, Armstrong and Aldrin
on the Moon, it's in our tradition, it's in our culture, it's a fundamental thing to want to go, to
touch, to see, to smell, to learn, and that I think will continue in the future.

Robyn Williams: The Apollo 11 astronauts, Neil Armstrong, Mike Collins and Buzz Aldrin in 1989.
Compare what they're saying today.