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  Mercury - Gemini - Apollo
  Apollo 11: Preservation of the first lunar footprint

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Author Topic:   Apollo 11: Preservation of the first lunar footprint
moorouge
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Posts: 1783
From: U.K.
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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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From: Greensboro, NC USA
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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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From: Minooka IL, US
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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.

Lou Chinal
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From: Staten Island, NY
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posted 09-03-2013 07:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lou Chinal   Click Here to Email Lou Chinal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sounds like a myth busters program to me.

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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From: Houston, TX, USA
Registered: Jan 2012

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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From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

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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From: Sacramento, CA
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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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From: Lake Orion, Michigan
Registered: Feb 2006

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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From: Belfast, United Kingdom
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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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From: Streamwood, IL USA
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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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From: Staten Island, New York USA
Registered: Nov 2007

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.

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