Pete Conrad, Dick Gordon and I were watching Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walking around on the Moon, seeing it all on grainy, black-and-white television images being transmitted from the Sea of Tranquility some 240,000 miles away. We were in the Mission Control Center in Houston, wondering what would come next because we knew we were going there next.|
It had been less than 30 minutes since Neil made that, "one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind" and less than 10 minutes since Buzz has joined him on the surface, when we see both of them together near the front of Eagle. Buzz announces that Neil is now unveiling the plaque. Neil begins:
"For those who haven't read the plaque," (which was about everybody on planet Earth as well as Buzz Aldrin standing next to him and Mike Collins orbiting 60 miles above them) "we'll read the plaque that's on the front landing gear of this LM. This is: There are two hemispheres, one showing each of the two hemispheres of Earth. Underneath it says 'Here men from the Planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon, July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.' It has the crew members' signatures and the signature of the President of the United States."
I remember that watching Neil and Buzz seemed unreal. Neil was my office mate in Houston and I would see him several times each day when we were both working in Houston. Buzz and I came together to NASA in the third astronaut group and his house was just over my back fence. Our two crews occupied the same office at Cape Kennedy where we trained for the last three months prior to flight. Seeing them, or anyone else, on the moon was surreal. It was an impossible dream that we and 400,000 other humans had been working on for most of the last decade. It was living, breathing, real science fiction.
What you see is the most complicated painting challenge I have experienced to date, largely because of the close-up view of the lunar module forward landing leg, along with the complexity of Neil's and Buzz's visor reflections.