While Armstrong flies the landing craft, Aldrin gives him altitude readings: "Seven hundred and fifty feet, coming down at 23 degrees . . . 700 feet, 21 down . . . 400 feet, down at nine . . . Got the shadow out there . . . 75 feet, things looking good . . . Lights on . . . Picking up some dust. . . 30 feet, 2 1/2 down . . . Faint shadow . . . Four forward. Four forward, drifting to the right a little . . . Contact light. Okay, engine stop."
When the 68-inch probes beneath three of the spacecraft's four footpads touch down, flashing a light on the instrument panel, Armstrong shuts off the ship's engine.
Aldrin, looking out of the LM window, reports: "We'll get to the details around here, but it looks like a collection of just about every variety of shapes, angularities and granularities, every variety of rock you could find. The colors vary pretty much depending on how you're looking.... There doesn't appear to be much of a general color at all; however, it looks as though some of the rocks and boulders, of which there are quite a few in the near area . . . are going to have some interesting colors to them."
A few moments later he tells of seeing numbers of craters, some of them 100 feet across, but the largest number...
....only one or two feet in diameter. He sees ridges 20 or 30 feet high, two-foot blocks with angular edges, and a hill half a mile to a mile away.
Finally, in describing the surface, Aldrin says: "It's pretty much without color. It's gray and it's a very white chalky gray, as you look into the zero phase line, and it's considerably darker gray, more like ashen gray as you look up 9O degrees to the Sun. Some of the surface rocks close in here that have been fractured or disturbed by the rocket engine are coated with this light gray on the outside but when they've been broken they display a dark, very dark gray interior, and it looks like it could be country basalt."
The first task after landing is that of preparing the ship for launching, of seeing that all is in readiness to make the ascent back to a rendezvous with the command spacecraft orbiting above.
Armstrong moves slowly down the 10-foot, nine-step ladder. On reaching the second step, he pulls a "D-ring," within easy reach, deploying a television camera, so arranged on the LM that it will depict him to Earth as he proceeds from that point.
Down the ladder he moves and halts on the last step. "I'm at the foot of the ladder," he reports. "The LM footpads are only depressed in the surface about one or two inches. . . the surface appears to be very, very finegrained, as you get close to it, it's almost like a powder."
"That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind," Armstrong radios. Aldrin is taking photographs from inside the spacecraft.
The first print made by the weight of man on the Moon is that of a lunar boot which resembles an oversized galosh.
Its soles are of silicon rubber and its 14-layer sidewalls of aluminized plastic. Specially designed for super-insulation, it protects against abrasion and has reduced friction to facilitate donning. On Earth, it weighs four pounds, nine ounces. on the Moon, 12 ounces.
Armstrong surveys his surroundings for a while and then moves out, testing himself in a gravity environment one-sixth of that on Earth. "The surface is fine and powdery," he says. "I can pick it up loosely with my toe. It does adhere in fine layers like powdered charcoal to the sole and sides of my boots. I only go in a small fraction of an inch. Maybe an eighth of an inch, but I can see the footprints of my boots and the treads in the fine sandy particles.
"There seems to be no difficulty in moving around as we suspected. It's even perhaps easier than the simulations...."
Feeling more confident, Armstrong begins making a preliminary collection of soil samples close to the landing craft. This is done with a bag on the end of a pole.
"This is very interesting," he comments. "It's a very soft surface, but here and there . . . I run into a very hard surface, but it appears to be very cohesive material of the same sort.... It has a stark beauty all its own. It's like much of the high desert of the United States."
He collects a small bagful of soil and stores it in a pocket on the left leg of his space suit. This is done early, according to plan, to make sure some of the Moon surface is returned to Earth in case the mission has to be cut short.
"These rocks . . . are rather slippery," Armstrong says. The astronauts report that the powdery surface seems to fill up the fine pores on the rocks, and they tend to slide over them rather easily.
Armstrong fits a long focal length lens into position on the TV camera and trains it upon a small, stainless steel plaque on one of the legs of the landing craft. He reads: "Here men from the planet Earth first set foot on the Moon. July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind." Below the inscription are the names of the Apollo crew and President Nixon.
Armstrong next removes the TV camera from its fixed position on the LM and moves it away about 40 feet so it can cover the area in which the astronauts will operate.
As scheduled, the astronauts set up the first of three experiments. From an outside storage compartment in the LM, Aldrin removes a foot-long tube containing a roll of aluminum foil. Inside the roll is a telescoped pole that is driven into the lunar surface, after which the foil is...
...suspended from it, with the side marked "Sun" next to the Sun. Its function will be to collect the particles of "solar wind" blowing constantly through space so that they can be brought back and analyzed in the hope they will provide information on how the Sun and planets were formed.
Taken to the Moon are two other U.S. flags, to be brought back and flown over the houses of Congress, the flags of the 50 States, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories, the United Nations flag, as well as those of 136 foreign countries.
As the President finishes speaking, Armstrong replies: "Thank you, Mr. President. It's a great honor and privilege for us to be here representing not only the United States but men of peace of all nations. And with interest and a curiosity and a vision for the future. It's an honor for us to be able to participate here today."
The two astronauts stand at attention, saluting directly toward the television as the telephone conversation concludes.
Armstrong next sets up a folding table and opens on it two specimen boxes. Using tongs and the lunar scoop, a quantity of rocks and soil are picked up and sealed in the boxes, preparatory to placing them in the ascent stage of the landing craft.
Aldrin, meanwhile, opens another compartment in the ship and removes two devices to be left on the Moon, taking each out about 30 feet from the ship. One is a seismic detector, to record moonquakes, meteorite impact, or volcanic eruption, and the other a laser-reflector, a device designed to make a much more precise measurement of Earth-Moon distances than has ever been possible before.