Neil Armstrong's 'One Small Step' The Subject Of New Documentary
December 31, 2012

BBC Documentary Reveals Origins Of Armstrong’s Historic Moon Landing Speech

[ Watch the Video: One Small Step, One Giant Leap Speech ]

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

"That´s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

The words spoken by Neil Armstrong when he became the first man to step foot on the moon will forever be an indelible moment in the history of space travel, but in a new BBC documentary, the late NASA astronaut's brother reveals that the words were not as spontaneous as Armstrong claimed.

In an interview that aired Sunday night as part of the television special, Armstrong's brother Dean told BBC that the astronaut had come up with his speech shortly before leaving for Cape Canaveral, where he and his Apollo 11 crewmates spent several months preparing for their departure.

According to Richard Gray, Science Correspondent for The Telegraph, Dean Armstrong said that his brother asked him to read the comment, and handed it to him on a piece of paper as the two of them participated in a session of the board game Risk.

However, the comments made by Dean Armstrong further cloud the debate over exactly what it was that Neil Armstrong said on that fateful day.

"Before he went to the Cape, he invited me down to spend a little time with him. He said 'why don´t you and I, once the boys go to bed, why don´t we play a game of Risk.' I said I´d enjoy that. We started playing Risk and then he slipped me a piece of paper and said 'read that´. I did," Dean Armstrong said in the interview, according to Gray.

“On that piece of paper there was 'That´s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind´. He says 'what do you think about that?´ I said 'fabulous´. He said 'I thought you might like that, but I wanted you to read it´," he continued, later adding that the paper actually said "one small step for a man," suggesting that Neil Armstrong had originally intended to include the indefinite article in his historic moon-landing speech.

That missing letter "prompted more than forty years of arguments over what [Armstrong] had actually said," Gray said. "Many accused Armstrong of fluffing his lines while others attempted to read meaning into the phrase“¦ Without the 'a', the sentence refers to 'man' abstractly as the whole of humanity in the same way as mankind in the second half of the sentence."

The NASA astronaut, who passed away on August 25 at the age of 82, long insisted that he had said "a man" but admitted in 1999 that he could not pick it up in audio recordings of the moon landing, The Telegraph said. He suggested that they could have been masked by transmission static, the UK newspaper added.

The documentary, entitled "Neil Armstrong — First Man on the Moon," was directed by Dr. Christopher Riley, a lecturer in science and media at the University of Lincoln. Riley told Gray that Armstrong had always claimed that the infamous line was thought up on the spot, after the landing but prior to the walk, but that his brother's story "suggests that he gave it a bit more thought than that."

"I think the reason he always claimed he´d thought it up after landing was that he was bombarded by suggestions in the run up to the mission, and found them a distraction to the business of landing on the Moon," he added. "It was probably easier to just say that he´d thought it up after landing, thus dodging the issue of where the words came from, and who maybe suggested them, or influenced him."

Armstrong, who was a Navy pilot during the Korean War and the command pilot for the Gemini 8 mission in 1966, died August 8 following complications from heart surgery. The Wapakoneta, Ohio native had just turned 82.