One Small Step

Instrumentation: SATB, Baritone Solo, Piano, & String Quartet
Purchase: Contact composer directly
Duration:  6:00
Language: English
Story:  As part of its public-service-based mission, NASA has made the transcripts of conversations between Apollo 11 astronauts and the NASA command center in Houston available for public use.  These records offer a fascinating window into just how complicated, chaotic, daring, and ultimately human the incomparably ambitious undertaking of sending people to the moon really was.  One Small Step  uses the portion of the conversation between NASA and Neil Armstrong right before, during, and after he stepped off the lunar lander and onto the surface of the moon.

The actual transcript paints a profoundly human portrait of Armstrong.  In the midst of presenting scientific observations with startling clarity, he stammers and repeats words as can only be expected of one becoming the first human to experience the profundity of setting foot on the surface of another world.  He even flubs arguably the most famous spoken sentence in history - he intended to say, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind,” but instead stuttered and said, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”  NASA knew what he intended to say originally, and thus the official transcript is, “THAT’S ONE SMALL STEP FOR (A) MAN, ONE GIANT LEAP FOR MANKIND.”
04 13 21 39 CDR (TRANQ) (Commander of Tranquility Base, Neil Armstrong)

Houston, this is Neil. Radio check.

04 13 21 42 CC
(NASA Command Center, Houston)
Neil, this is Houston. Loud and clear.

04 13 22 48 CC

Okay. Neil, we can see you coming down the ladder now.

04 13 22 59 CDR (TRANQ)

Okay. I just checked getting back up to that first step, Buzz.
It's - not even collapsed too far, but it's adequate to get back up.

04 13 23 10 CC

Roger. We copy.

04 13 23 11 CDR (TRANQ)

It takes a pretty good little jump.

04 13 23 38 CDR (TRANQ)

I'm at the foot of the ladder. The LM footpads are only depressed
in the surface about 1 or 2 inches, although the surface appears to be very,
very fine grained, as you get close to it. It's almost like a powder.
Down there, it's very fine.

04 13 23 43 CDR (TRANQ)

I'm going to step off the LM now.

04 13 24 48 CDR (TRANQ)


04 13 24 48 CDR (TRANQ)

And the - the surface is fine and powdery.
I can - 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.

04 13 25 30 CC

Neil, this is Houston. We're copying. 

- Text excerpted from Technical Air-to-Ground Voice Transmission (GOSS NET 1) from the Apollo 11 mission

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