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  Apollo 11: Preservation of the first lunar footprint (Page 1)

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Author Topic:   Apollo 11: Preservation of the first lunar footprint
moorouge
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posted 08-26-2012 07:24 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
With the sad passing of Neil Armstrong, it occurs to me to wonder if his iconic first footprint on the Moon's surface still exists.

Did the crew make a conscious effort to work round it, or was it obliterated as they moved round the LM during activities near the ladder at the end of the EVA?

I wonder if Buzz Aldrin has the answer.

ilbasso
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posted 08-26-2012 08:07 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ilbasso   Click Here to Email ilbasso     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I doubt they would have been able to identify it by the end of the EVA. There was a lot of activity around the foot pad especially at the end, when they were transferring the samples and other items back up to the cabin.

The astronauts could not really see their feet or where they were walking (e.g., getting Neil almost tripping over the TV camera cable several times, or John Young accidentally pulling out the heat flow probe cable on Apollo 16). I think it would have been impossible for them to pay attention to the First Step bootprint and still get their work done.

Another question is, did the test of the RCS engines and the ascent engine blast blow much dust over the bootprints?

moorouge
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posted 08-26-2012 10:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think you're probably correct. Nevertheless, if one goes to Plymouth, Mass. there you'll find preserved behind iron grating and masonry the rock used by the Founding Fathers to first step into their New World. It does greatly help the tourist trade as visitors flock to have their picture taken by it. However, despite what the inscription says, don't believe it to be the genuine article.

This said, I can't help but wonder if some future enterprising tourist entrepreneur might encase a planted boot and claim it was the first step taken as man explored worlds outside his own planet.

Skyguy48
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posted 09-03-2013 12:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Skyguy48   Click Here to Email Skyguy48     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Knowing the historical significance of his first boot print, I wonder if NASA would have asked the crew to somehow "preserve" that boot print by not disturbing it.

On the grainy film of Armstrong stepping off the pad he appeared to step to the left side of the pad which could have been easily avoided by both astronauts returning to the LM. Am I being trivial or would that boot print be the crown jewel for the "Lunar National Park" idea that the U.S. government has in the future?

Editor's note: Threads merged.

p51
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posted 09-03-2013 01:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for p51   Click Here to Email p51     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Skyguy48:
Knowing the historical significance of his first boot print, I wonder if NASA would have asked the crew to somehow "preserve" that boot print by not disturbing it.
I can't imagine anyone would have seriously told Armstrong and Aldrin to preserve the first footprint, especially considering where it was, as the base of the LM. There's no way they could have even seen it, let alone find a way to avoid stepping on it.

Besides, that was the first of many steps that was planned, many people thought we'd have colonies on the Moon by now, back then...

dabolton
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posted 09-03-2013 05:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dabolton   Click Here to Email dabolton     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Are we even sure that footprint remains after the ascent module engines blasted them away.

LM-12
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posted 06-10-2014 04:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The photos that Armstrong took before Aldrin came down the ladder include shots of the LM footpad and surrounding area (frames 5859, 5860 and 5861), but they are too dark to make out any footprints, including the first.

schnappsicle
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posted 06-12-2014 08:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for schnappsicle   Click Here to Email schnappsicle     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Skyguy48:
Am I being trivial or would that boot print be the crown jewel for the "Lunar National Park" idea that the U.S. government has in the future?
I believe there is an international agreement among the nations to preserve all six of the Apollo landing sites as they are now (undisturbed except by the astronauts who landed there).

While I would love nothing more than to visit those sites, I'm in total agreement with preserving them. If I do go to the moon some day, I'd much rather make my own mark on virgin soil than detract from what the Apollo crews accomplished. I'm sure that in the future, someone will open the sites to visitors. I only hope I'm long gone when that day finally arrives.

As far as preserving Armstrong's first step, I think the TV record does a great job of that. Like others, I doubt seriously that anyone can identify the exact spot of the first step. You're right, it probably should have been preserved, but that would have meant no second step.

As far as the blast, while they were filled in to some degree, I think the LRO photos (and LM launch films) show that it was not enough to completely obliterate the bootprints near the LM.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-12-2014 08:27 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by schnappsicle:
I believe there is an international agreement among the nations to preserve all six of the Apollo landing sites...
The only agreement, the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, establishes that the hardware left behind on the moon belongs to the United States. Otherwise, there are no treaties or international agreements that specify the landing sites be preserved.

NASA drafted a set of guidelines to protect the sites, and Tranquility Base has been proposed as a National Park/World Heritage Site, but the latter has yet to happen and the earlier only applies to U.S. entities (the Google Lunar X Prize has agreed to abide by the guidelines).

Blackarrow
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posted 06-12-2014 05:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I would be fairly certain that Neil Armstrong's first footprint was obliterated by his subsequent footprints as he moved around in the early minutes of the Moonwalk. I am even more certain he would not have given it any thought. He had a job to do. He was not there to create an iconic footprint.

If you want to identify footprints made by the first man on the Moon, you can see them clearly on the best LRO images of the Apollo 11 landing-site. That line of footprints leading out to Little West Crater and back was unquestionably made, and made exclusively, by Neil Armstrong.

robsouth
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posted 06-12-2014 06:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for robsouth     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Armstrong was required to test the properties of the moon with his boot before letting go of the LM ladder, so the first step would have been wiped out by the second and third, as he lifted his boot up and down.

sts205cdr
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posted 06-12-2014 07:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for sts205cdr   Click Here to Email sts205cdr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This notion reminds me of the FTETTM episode "Is That All There Is?" Ground: "It's important to keep the experiments free of dust." Conrad and Bean: "Bwahahahahahaha!!!"

Space Cadet Carl
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posted 06-16-2014 10:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Space Cadet Carl   Click Here to Email Space Cadet Carl     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I agree that the very first footprint by Armstrong was probably obliterated by subsequent foot stomping by both astronauts. However, this closeup photo taken a couple years ago by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter proves that Armstrong's unplanned, last-minute dash over to Little West Crater and back toward the conclusion of the moonwalk still shows up very clearly on the surface today!

Blackarrow
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posted 06-16-2014 04:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I rest my case.

Headshot
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posted 07-06-2014 10:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The current issue (August 2014) of Astronomy magazine has an article by Jay Barbree about Apollo 11's moonwalk. On page 24 he discusses Armstrong's first lunar bootprint, its unintentional obliteration, and Armstrong's disappointment.

onesmallstep
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posted 07-11-2014 01:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for onesmallstep   Click Here to Email onesmallstep     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Absent a clear photograph or description of the first footprint, there is Alan Bean's painting The First Human Footprint. Bean describes how he talked to Armstrong to get the details right and even paid a visit to the lunar module on display at Space Center Houston.

LM-12
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posted 07-31-2014 02:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Although not the first footprint, there is something about the famous bootprint photo taken by Buzz Aldrin that I hadn't noticed before. Frames 5878 and 5880 are two different bootprints.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-31-2014 02:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Apollo Lunar Surface Journal describes these two bootprints as captured on the 16mm film:
At about 110:26:05, his right leg comes into view as he plants his right boot deliberately on the pristine patch. A frame from the 16-mm film taken at about 110:26:08 shows him with his leg extended and his boot planted. He then lifts his foot and backs out of the 16-mm field-of-view and takes two "after" pictures of the bootprint: 5877 and 5878. He took the second of these from slightly farther away and got better focus.

At about 110:27:00 Buzz steps back into view at the left and plants his boot just beyond the previous bootprint. In a frame from the 16-mm film taken at about 110:27:02, the first bootprint in just behind Buzz's boot. He now takes two pictures of his boot and the new print: 5879 and 5880.

LM-12
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posted 07-31-2014 03:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I had thought that they were the same bootprint, but when you look at the photos side by side with the frame numbers, you can see that they are two different bootprints.

Blackarrow
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posted 07-31-2014 05:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
So much (entirely justified!) effort to obtain photographs of human bootprints on the Moon. What a pity no-one thought it equally important to obtain a similarly high quality photograph of the first human being to set foot on another world.

LM-12
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posted 07-31-2014 05:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Would it have been too dark in the LM shadow to get a good quality photo of the first footprint, had they tried?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-31-2014 05:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The bootprint wasn't a victory or vanity shot; it was part of the mission objectives (Bootprint Penetration Experiment). As noted in the ALSJ:
Readers should note that Buzz is following his checklist fairly closely and that the footprint photos are one of his tasks.

MCroft04
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posted 07-31-2014 08:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MCroft04   Click Here to Email MCroft04     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Jay Barbree relates in his book on Neil Armstrong that Neil intended to make his first photograph that of his first footprint, but "in his movements to check out Eagle's stance and operate the conveyor line to bring the camera down, he had walked over it."

Blackarrow
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posted 08-02-2014 10:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Readers should note that Buzz is following his checklist fairly closely and that the footprint photos are one of his tasks.
My point precisely. The next task (or even the preceding task) set out in the check list ought to have been "take representative images of commander on the surface." This has been debated endlessly, but history will judge the omission to have been most unfortunate.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-02-2014 10:51 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As I believe Armstrong would argue, the importance was not which astronaut was photographed but that a photograph of a man on the moon was documented (as was done).

Blackarrow
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posted 08-03-2014 05:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Robert, I'm sure you're right about that. It is well known that Neil Armstrong was an unusually selfless person and it would not have been in his nature to be annoyed that there is no good quality Hasselblad image of him on the surface.

That is not the point. The flight plan specifically called on Armstrong to take pictures of Aldrin at certain times (for instance, coming down the ladder). The flight plan contained no similar requirement for Aldrin to photograph Armstrong during the period when Aldrin had the camera. Had this been included in the flight plan, the greatest photographic omission in history would not have occurred. The fault lay not with the astronauts but with the planners.

The whole issue is covered comprehensively by the late H.J.P. Arnold in the July, 1988 edition of the B.I.S. magazine "Spaceflight" (pp 284-294).

There is no doubt that there was an expectation among NASA's P.R. people that a good photograph of the FIRST man on the Moon should be selected for publication. Arnold quotes Brian Duff, who had taken over as NASA head of public affairs from Paul Haney just before Apollo 11. Referring to a hectic session when the Apollo 11 EVA photography was being examined, Duff told Arnold: "Everyone was yelling and everyone had a candidate. Finally someone said: 'Shouldn't we try to get a picture of the first man on the Moon? That settled things down and we started looking for the best 70mm shot of Neil. Soon we were looking for any shot of Neil. Finally George Low or Bob Gilruth suggested I call Neil and ask him..."

This actually meant waking Armstrong who was asleep in the Lunar Receiving Laboratory, but Armstrong was unable to assist, possibly leading to the longstanding belief that there was no picture of him at all. (As Arnold was able to deduce, one image does show Armstrong, in shadow, in the background.)

moorouge
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posted 08-04-2014 01:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This raises another issue. Blackarrow is correct in that the crew followed the flight plan with the photo assignments. However, they did not stick rigidly to the pre-flight plans when the timing of the EVA was laid out. Why was it not possible for Aldrin to sneak in a photo of Armstrong? Is it not possible that he was getting his own back for not being the first?

Blackarrow
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posted 08-04-2014 07:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Gosh, Eddie, a Project Apollo conspiracy* theory? How would this one go? Oh yes:
  • Buzz "forgets" to insert the TV circuit breaker which would have meant no TV pictures until he "remembers" to insert it just before leaving the LM. Unfortunately, Capcom reminds him to insert it as Armstrong goes down the ladder;
  • Buzz sets the wrong focus on the movie camera while filming Armstrong's historic first steps;
  • Buzz sticks rigidly to the flight-plan and deliberately takes no quality images of the first man on the Moon.
Unfortunately for this conspiracy theory, Buzz then goes and takes the wonderful picture of a tired but smiling Armstrong inside the cabin after a successful EVA. Unlike the pictures of Aldrin on the surface, this picture shows the face of the first man on the Moon.

The "evidence" I have listed above would require the actions of a man who would surely not have passed the psychological evaluation tests during astronaut selection. Buzz Aldrin is driven, precise, technically-minded and probably would seem "odd" to most people, but I don't accept that he is a small, petty man. He is one of the team of three remarkable individuals who succeeded in achieving the greatest technological goal in human history, with the assistance of hundreds of thousands of gifted people in the background. It grieves me that the historical record does not have a classic close-up front-facing photograph of Neil Armstrong on the surface of the Moon, but with so many intricate plans to be drawn up, and so much to do during the mission, I am satisfied that the omission of "the photograph" was not due to conspiracy* but to c**k-up.

*Not actually the correct word, as it requires a minimum of two conspirators, but you know what I mean.

moorouge
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posted 08-04-2014 08:49 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Geoffrey - I only asked! Aldrin had every opportunity to take a photo of Armstrong whilst he had the camera. So he stuck rigidly to the flight plan and only took those that he was detailed to do? Put yourself in his shoes or rather boots. Wouldn't you, realising the significance of the event, sneak one unauthorised shot in?

And yes, they worked well as a team, but that didn't mean they liked each other. I believe that Collins once had to separate them after a disagreement.

Blackarrow
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posted 08-04-2014 03:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, Eddie!

moorouge
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posted 08-04-2014 04:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Oh my! That's twice we've agreed in as many days. People are going to start talking if this continues.

But you're right - hindsight is a wonderful thing particularly it seems amongst space historians.

datkatz
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posted 08-04-2014 05:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for datkatz   Click Here to Email datkatz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hmmm... A photo of the very first man to stand on the moon, actually standing on the moon. And it just slipped Buzz's mind.

I'm with you, Eddie.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-04-2014 05:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's easy to try to lay blame on Aldrin, but it doesn't necessarily make it correct.

Armstrong was clearly not focused on vanity shots, and Aldrin's photo set demonstrates that he was sticking fairly close to what the mission goals called for him to shoot.

MCroft04
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posted 08-04-2014 09:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MCroft04   Click Here to Email MCroft04     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Armstrong's EVA was less than 2 1/2 hours; Aldrin's 19 minutes less. You think just maybe they had more important things to worry about than photo ops?

Imagine how quickly the time must have passed for the first 2 men to walk on the moon. Plus, Armstrong could have easily asked Aldrin to take a photo of him once he handed the camera off to Aldrin, but just maybe he was too busy with more important work. I suggest that those arguing that Aldrin purposely did not take a photo of Armstrong join up with the moonhoaxers; that argument is just about as credible! Why not focus on the great things they did? Aldrin successfully deployed the scientific experiments. Armstrong did a wonderful job collecting lunar samples. They made it back alive.

datkatz
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posted 08-04-2014 10:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for datkatz   Click Here to Email datkatz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Photo ops? Aldrin took a selfie of his foot. He probably had time to photograph Armstrong.

MCroft04
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posted 08-04-2014 10:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MCroft04   Click Here to Email MCroft04     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
They were performing different tasks not close to one another (relatively speaking) all in less than 2 1/2 hours. If you recall Armstrong walked off camera to collect lunar samples while Aldrin set up the science experiments; little opportunity for a photo opp. Get over it or join the moonhaoxers! Both astronauts did an exemplary job on the lunar surface.

Mike Dixon
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posted 08-04-2014 10:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mike Dixon   Click Here to Email Mike Dixon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If there was any "criticism" to be levelled (and yep, hindsight's terrific) I'd suggest the mission planners erred by not ensuring BOTH Armstrong and Aldrin had a Hasselblad.

Perhaps there was a valid reason behind that I'm no aware of, but in light of the fact each astronaut on every subsequent mission had their own camera, maybe it was an oversight.

sev8n
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posted 08-04-2014 10:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for sev8n     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Those of us who shot film (as opposed to digital) know that there are a finite and limited number of exposures on a roll of film. It's not like they had 32 gigabyte memory cards and could take thousands of photos without worrying about running out of storage. Photographs of assigned images most likely took up all the available film with no extra film for "Kodak moment".

Those of us who know (or are) test pilots know that checklists and procedures are to be followed to the letter, which appears to be exactly what Aldrin did.

datkatz
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posted 08-04-2014 11:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for datkatz   Click Here to Email datkatz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Are you really suggesting that there wasn't enough film available to take a photo of the first man to set foot on the moon? Are you serious? Aldrin didn't snap Armstrong because he either a) didn't want to waste film, or b) had already run out of film?

Or that strict adherence to his checklist precluded him from taking a photo? Nonsense. There was quite a bit of leeway in what the crew photographed. Where on Armstrong's checklist did it say to take so many pictures of the ALSEP deployment?

And I'm sure that as a test pilot you've never done anything during a flight that wasn't specifically mentioned on your checklist. Please. Humans were sent to explore precisely because they can think of appropriate things to do without having pre-planned them.

I have long believed that Aldrin's failure to photograph Armstrong on the moon was deliberate. You don't agree. That's fine. But to suggest that believing so is equivalent to believing that the moon landings were a hoax is insulting and absurd.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-05-2014 03:25 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There is a difference between believing that the moon landings were a hoax and that Aldrin purposely avoided taking photos of Armstrong. Namely, the earlier can be easily disproved.

But it doesn't take much to call into question the latter. As already mentioned in this thread, Aldrin had no requirement to take the vanity shot of Armstrong once back inside Eagle, and yet he did.

Further, Aldrin did photograph Armstrong twice on the surface. And though they were not vanity shots, if Aldrin was dead set on not capturing Armstrong on film, he could have avoided him altogether.

It was not as though Armstrong and Aldrin were passing the camera back and forth between themselves. Armstrong never handed the camera to Aldrin; rather, he set it down on the MESA, where Aldrin later picked it up, per the checklist. So even the transfer of the camera was scripted.

Of course, you (and everyone else) are welcome to believe in whatever you want to believe (moon landing hoax included) but it doesn't mean that isn't inappropriate. There is no evidence to suggest that Aldrin acted in any other way but professional, so to suggest otherwise is speculation.


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