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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 October 2006, 13:02 GMT 14:02 UK
What did Neil Armstrong say next?
WHO, WHAT, WHY?
The Magazine answers...

Neil Armstrong
Pardon, Neil
After 37 years, the first words spoken by man on the Moon have been verified. But myth still surrounds the bizarre second mutterings of Neil Armstrong.

A good listen to the tapes has found that astronaut Neil Armstrong did not fluff his lines as he stepped down on to the surface of the moon.

Audio analysis of the static-ridden 1969 transmission shows he managed to say the "a" in "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind," in all its grammatically-correct glory.

But while one controversy has been cleared up, another persists around a bizarre phrase Armstrong is believed, by some, to have said shortly afterwards.

Moon chat

As he ambled about on the Moon, Armstrong chatted with his fellow astronaut, Buzz Aldrin, and Mission Control. One theory has it that, as he prepared to climb back up into the Moon lander, he uttered the words "Good luck, Mr Gorsky".

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The story runs that it referred not to a Soviet cosmonaut rival but a tale from Armstrong's childhood. That, as a small child, he overheard a neighbour's argument where one promised the other a favour when "the kid next door walks on the moon".

It is an entertaining and slightly risque yarn. Thousands of people believe it, many publish it on their websites or blogs. The pop group Sleeper even wrote a song about it. But is it true?

No, and there's not a shred of evidence to support it, says a leading moon-landing scientist. So fictitious is the tale that he will not even give it credence by being named in association with it.

Nevertheless, rumours about the remark have reached such a level that scientists have launched their own counter-attack. One, Eric Jones, has posted the entire transcripts of everything said during the Apollo 11 landings [see internet links, right] on a website, and his creation was later endorsed by Nasa.

Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins
Is the rumour fuelled by a desire to see heroes as human?

It shows in complete detail what Armstrong said, and when he said it. Such gems as "I can see everything quite clearly" and, conversely, "What am I bumping into?"

So where did the theory come from? Some researchers - and apparently Armstrong himself - attribute it to a stand-up routine by a comedian, Buddy Hackett.

Others say it comes from our desire to see a more human and comedic side to Armstrong. He was a giant among men, but apart from those first words, he rarely gave good quote. It was an impressive broadcast, but a gag would have livened it up.

And it's worth remembering that myths and conspiracy theories are no stranger to the Apollo 11 mission - chief among them, the belief that the mission itself was a hoax and the Moon walk was actually filmed in the Nevada desert.


Add your comments on this story, using the form below.

I don't believe for one second that man has walked or even landed on the moon... If this is the case why has no one done it since that era?
Steven Edwards, Kirkby, Liverpool

OK, so we've cleared up the "a man" bit and the Mr Gorsky hoax, but what about the "iant" leap for mankind? Where did the G go? Abducted by aliens perhaps?
John Airey, Peterborough, UK

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