On July 20, 1969, NASA’s Apollo 11 mission successfully touched down on the Moon, bringing an abrupt end to the Space Race. Neil Armstrong made history, jumping off the lunar lander Eagle and delivering his legendary “one small step” speech to the millions of anxious people watching back on Earth. Minutes later, his college Aldrin followed in his footsteps and the pair buried the American flag into the dusty surface.
However, Aldrin, now 89, once admitted he thinks things should have played out differently.
In an extremely candid interview from 1973, the veteran detailed his pride in being chosen for the first mission to space.
He said: “I like to be associated with the fact that I was on the first lunar landing mission instead of being the second man to walk on the Moon.
“But it doesn’t bother me particularly anymore, it irritates the heck out of my father, though.
Buzz Aldrin was disappointed with Apollo 11
The crew of Apollo 11 in 1969
I was certainly disappointed
“He’s always looking out for the best thing for his offspring.”
Aldrin detailed how the decision was made by NASA bosses a month before the flight over who would be the first to walk on the Moon.
However, he was not impressed.
He added: “I was certainly disappointed [at the time].
“But I think that my life would have been a little more hectic had I been the first.
Neil Armstrong was the first man on the Moon
“Who knows, I may have even decided to become a college professor the way Neil did.
“I’m sure there would be trying moments if I did it again, but having gone through it once I’d be a much smarter person.”
Aldrin may have got his way, had former NASA boss Christopher Kraft not got involved.
The Apollo 8 planner, who passed away on July 22 this year, claimed during Altitude Film’s “Armstrong” documentary that he was solely responsible for the selection of the first man on the Moon.
He said: “Did I have anything to do with Neil being the first man on the Moon? Yes. I did it.
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Buzz Aldrin was the second man on the Mon
“Deke Slayton said ‘Aldrin will be the first guy on the Moon’ but up here [in my head] said ‘we don’t want Aldrin on the Moon’.
“I just felt like Buzz was not the right personality and would not be the best representative for the United States.
“I thought Neil would do better.
“I didn’t dislike Aldrin, didn’t like him either, we all have weaknesses, I didn’t know Jesus when I met him though.”
How the Apollo 11 mission played out
However, Aldrin should not count himself so unlucky.
Author James Donovan has claimed neither of the Apollo 11 astronauts should have led the line.
He stated during his new book “Shoot for the Moon” that Apollo 1’s Gus Grissom would have been the first man on the Moon, had he not passed away during the tragic accident.
His book reads: “In early 1969, the Moon landing was just in the planning phases.
“The Lunar Module hadn’t been tested in space yet, and there were those at NASA who thought Apollo 10 should give it a try if Apollo 9 went well.
“Nobody at the agency – not Bob Gilrush, not Chris Kraft, not Deke Slayton – knew for sure which mission would be the one to land on the Moon.
“If Gus Grissom has still been alive, all agreed that he would have been the one to command it.
“But he wasn’t so for potential commanders, Deke favoured McDivitt, Borman, Stafford, Armstrong and Conrad, and those fire, in that order would helm Apollo 8 through to Apollo 12.”