Buzz Aldrin was the Pilot of first team to land on the MOON,
Apollo 11. The story of Apollo 11; almost didn't come home.
One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" could have turned out dramatically different had it not been for astronaut Buzz Aldrin’s ingenuity in averting disaster with a simple felt-tip pen.
Following the Apollo 11 historic July 20, 1969, moonwalk, Aldrin and Neil Armstrong were preparing to return to command from their lunar module when they discovered that a 1-inch engine arm circuit breaker switch had broken off the instrument panel.
In his book, Magnificent Desolation: The Long Journey Home from the Moon, Aldrin recalls spotting something on the floor of the lunar module that didn’t belong there.
“I looked closer and jolted a bit,” he writes. “There on the dust on the floor on the right side of the cabin, lay a circuit breaker switch that had broken off.”
Wondering where the switch had come from, he looked at the rows of breakers on the instrument panel. Then he “gulped hard.”
Lunar Module pilot Buzz Aldrin on the spaceflight Apollo 11 in July 1969.
“The broken switch had snapped off from the engine-arm circuit breaker, the one vital breaker needed to send electrical power to the ascent engine that would lift Neil and me off the moon,” he writes.
Somehow, he or Armstrong must have accidentally bumped the switch in the cramped space with their cumbersome backpacks. “Regardless of how the circuit breaker switch had broken off, the circuit breaker had to be pushed back in again for the ascent engine to ignite to get us back home,” he writes.
The broken switch was reported to Mission Control, but after a fretful night trying to get some sleep, Houston had not figured out a solution the next morning.
“After examining it more closely, I thought that if I could find something in the LM (Lunar Module) to push into the circuit, it might hold,” Aldrin writes. “But since it was electrical, I decided not to put my finger in, or use anything that had metal on the end. I had a felt-tipped pen in the shoulder pocket of my suit that might do the job.
“After moving the countdown procedure up by a couple of hours in case it didn't work, I inserted the pen into the small opening where the circuit breaker switch should have been, and pushed it in; sure enough, the circuit breaker held. We were going to get off the moon, after all. To this day I still have the broken circuit breaker switch and the felt-tipped pen I used to ignite our engines.”
A side note from Katie West:
Buzz is brilliant, yet so sensitive and heartbroken. I liked being with Buzz because he was a "gentle" man, kind and quiet. He didn't talk a lot but, when he talked you listened. He told me something that I will never forget, and something that will stay with me forever and it taught me something very valuable, when meeting people.
Buzz went to the moon. Buzz was an "over achiever!" I engraved a brick for my friend Buzz for the Douglas County Veterans Memorial Park for this reason! I wanted to remember BUZZ with appreciation!
When he was telling me about going to the moon, he came back and as he was speaking to his father, probably thinking his father would congratulate him and be SO VERY PROUD like every other American in the United States was... his father said,
"Buzz you were the second man on the moon NOT the first!"
My response to this is, "No wonder Buzz was an alcoholic!"
This taught me to ENCOURAGE, MORE!