Armstrong lied about origin of his `one small step` quote?

The famous `one small step` line uttered by Neil Armstrong after landing on the lunar surface, was not as spontaneous as he had claimed.

Updated: Jan 03, 2013, 15:44 PM IST

London: The famous `one small step` line uttered by Neil Armstrong after landing on the lunar surface, was not as spontaneous as he had claimed, in fact he wrote it months before flying to the Moon, it has emerged.

Three months after Armstrong`s death, his family has claimed that he wrote the words - to mark the moment he stepped onto the Moon - months in advance and had always intended to include the notorious missing `a` in the speech.

Armstrong, who was 82 when he died in August last year, maintained he decided on the line after landing the spacecraft on the surface of the moon and had said: "That`s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind".

Millions who watched him stepping off the ladder onto the dusty lunar surface, however, did not hear the crucial `a` in the phrase - sparking decades of debate over its meaning.

However, a series of new and rare interviews with his family broadcasted on BBC Two have revealed that Armstrong scripted his famous words several months before the launch.

Dean Armstrong, the astronaut`s brother, claimed that Neil had asked him to read the famous quote shortly before the Apollo 11 crew left for Cape Canaveral.

Dean insisted that the original phrase, handed to him on a piece of paper by his brother as they played the board game Risk, contained the infamous missing `a`, although during the interview, even he dropped the letter as he told the story, the paper said.

The brother claimed that before Neil Armstrong went to the Cape, he invited him to spend a little time with him and while they were playing a game of Risk, Neil slipped him a piece of paper and said "read that".

"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`," Dean said.
"It was `that is one small step for (a) man`," Dean said.

The missing indefinite article in the transmission from the surface of the Moon has prompted more than forty years of arguments over what he had actually said.
Armstrong himself always insisted he had said `a`, but in 1999 admitted that he could not hear it either in audio recordings of the event, and that they were perhaps wiped out by transmission static.

"Neil always maintained that he`d thought it up after landing, before the walk. Dean`s story rather suggests that he gave it a bit more thought than that," said Dr Christopher Riley from Lincoln University who has analysed the lunar landing transmissions and directed the new BBC biopic.

"Neil used to play the game `Mother may I..` when he was young, and would say `Mother may I take one small step ...` - so maybe this was another source of inspiration for his famous words," Riley said.

"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," Riley said.