– [Announcer] This episode of, StarTalk, is brought to you by, CuriosityStream. (upbeat music) – This is, StarTalk, and I’m your host, Neil deGrasse Tyson, your
personal astrophysicist and today this is a StarTalk
devoted to the, “First Man”. – [Chuck] Adam? – No, (laughing). That was, Chuck Nice, my co-host of the, “First Man”–
– Sorry. – Special edition of StarTalk. We’re of course talking
about Neil Armstrong and his first steps on the Moon. And we’re not gonna do that unless we bring in an astronaut.
– Wow. – Ain’t it cool I got, on my Rolodex, I got some astronauts.
– Wow. – And one of my favorites, actually he is my favorite, but I don’t wanna tell anybody.
– Ah, that’s nice. (laughing)
Thank you. – Mike Massimino, Mike.
– Neil. – Dude, thanks for coming.
– Chuck, thanks for having me I’m so glad I could join you.
– Just on short notice. We saw each other just the other night–
– Yeah. – Both we saw preview screening
of the film, “First Man”, all about Neil Armstrong. And I realize it’s not
about Neil Armstrong, it is Neil Armstrong’s view.
– Yeah. – Right, it’s his point of view of the whole–
– It’s who he was, yeah. – Who he was.
– Cool. – They captured his
personality, what he was about, the way he approached his work.
– Yeah. – It was, I thought it was fantastic. – Well, let me finish introducing you. So you’re a former NASA astronaut.
– Yes. – You’re a mechanical engineer. You’re a professor at Columbia University and you’re a Senior Space Advisor to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. – Thank you for mentioning
all those things, yes, it’s correct.
– And you’re a wife, I mean, you’re a husband and dad.
– Yes, correct. – The wife, that the operation is later. – Yeah, he’s a wife on Tuesdays. (laughing) – So, no, but just thanks for making time to come in for this. – I’m really thrilled to be here.
– Yeah. – It’s always good to see you guys especially to talk about my
boyhood hero, Neil Armstrong. – So did you guys know Neil Armstrong? – Can I finish introducing him?
– Oh, you’re still on his introduction?
– I’m sorry. – Holy moly.
– You’re the adventure of two space flights, STS,
which is NASA code for, Space Transportation System.
– Correct. – Oh cool, it absolutely makes sense. – Does it? (laughing) – I believe it’s called a shuttle.
– Shuttle, Shuttle Mission 109 in 2002, and 125, that was a good one, in May 2009, the last servicing mission
of the Hubble Telescope, giving it life into the 2010s.
– That’s right. – And you had four space walks.
– Yep. – And you’re the, okay, he’s a first man unto himself.
– Yes he is. – The first man to? – Tweet from space.
– Oh! – Nice. – Take that Neil Armstrong.
– Yeah. – Okay, so Neil Armstrong said, “one small step for man,
one giant leap for mankind.” What were your first Tweet from space? – Yeah, that’s the problem. Now there’s a Neil Armstrong story here, related to it.
– Okay, go. – I don’t know if we wanna go there yet.
– Go, go there, go, go. – Yes.
– The very first time Neil Armstrong came to
speak to my astronaut class, we were there for a total of four days.
– So you’re still like an astronaut cadet?
– We’re no, yeah, we were just getting like he was there–
– Total newbies. – He happened to be in
town for his physical. Our training manager reached out–
– In Houston? – To him, in Houston, right,
at the Johnson Space Center, all new astronauts. And she asked him, Paige
Mulstry was her name, she asked, she got a
message over to the clinic, would he come speak to us? And he said he would, but
he only wanted to speak to the new astronauts. So he came over and
talked to us mainly about flying in the X-15 and
we asked him question but the way–
– The X-15, the test plane from NASA
based on a military, I mean it’s a–
– It’s a rocket plane. – A super, it’s a rocket plane, a supersonic–
– It’s amazing, yeah. – Rocket plane.
– Yeah, and it was one of the more, I don’t know, maybe the most successful
experimental aircraft ever built. It went like Mach 7, a couple of those guys–
– Seven times the speed of sound?
– Yeah, and a couple of those guys earned their astronaut wings.
– For having the… – With altitude, yeah, that’s how high this airplane could go. It could get you to what, I know space is an arbitrary boundary, that’s another story, but they were able to earn astronaut wings in that aircraft.
– Earth itself is in space.
– Yes, yes, that’s super, that’s a whole, that’s another show.
– Yes, (voice covers voice). – I hate to bring this
up because then you’ll, we’ll have a whole another show going here.
– Right, right. – About the boundary of space, but an amazing aircraft. He talked about that and other things and we got to meet him and talk to him. But they day after we were at a, it was like a luncheon going on ’cause there was a reunion as well as him coming in for his physical. And I ended up next to
him on the food line, you know, making a sandwich.
– Damn, even Neil Armstrong had to go in the chow line. – Wow.
– He has to eat. – Man, that’s cold.
– That doesn’t even seem right.
– That’s not, that’s wrong.
– You know what I mean. – It wasn’t bad food though, even though it was
government food it wasn’t. Anyway, so he’s next to
me and I said to myself, I have to say something to this guy, ’cause I’m next to him, I don’t know how it happened,
but serendipitously. And I asked him, when did
you think of that first thing that you said on the Moon, the one small step for man? I go, did your wife tell ya, did you get a publicist that, who, how’d you come up with this? And he turned to me and he says, well, like I thought about
it only after we landed because if we didn’t land I
wouldn’t have to say anything, it wouldn’t make a difference, and so he concentrated
only on the landing. – Saved his brain energy.
– Well, he. – Yeah.
– But I think what he was, the message he was trying to
get to me as a new astronaut, well, I don’t know if he was trying, but the message I took was,
you take care of business first and you worry about–
– Worry about. – The other stuff later.
– Right. – So his focus was landing on the Moon. So, for my Tweet I did the same approach. I said, I’m not gonna worry
about this first Tweet. (laughing) We have to launch into space, we have to get there alive and successfully–
– I gotta job to do. – Big mistake is right.
– This sounds like a mistake. – This was a mistake.
– Story. – So I get there and it’s,
all right we’re alive, and it’s time to, the
computers are up and running on day one and so I need
to come up with something. So what I said, what I Tweeted was, launch was awesome. The adventure of a lifetime has begun. I’m feeling great, enjoying the view, something like along, but–
– That’s okay. – The first, it was okay,
but during the mission, you know I was paying attention
to the mission of course. During the mission, a side bar, is I didn’t get any email from my kids. My kids, they were both teenagers, you mentioned I’m a father,
yes, I love my kids. They were both in high school.
– I love my kids, but. – But they were very happy
that I as away from the planet at that time.
(laughing) Yeah. – And they were ignoring me and I’m writing them, you know, and they emailed nothing.
– Well, they could’ve taken it personally. Some dads go on a business trip.
– No, no they didn’t. – You left planet Earth.
– They were happy I was away. – Oh, okay.
– And they were like, dad, annoying dad can’t bother us anymore, and I wasn’t getting any emails from them.
– Where’s dad, is he in New York or is he in space, which, where’d he go?
– Right, well they knew I wasn’t there–
– Okay. – And they were just happy enough they didn’t wanna be reminded. So I wasn’t getting any email from ’em. Saturday comes, Saturday
comes and Saturday Night Live makes fun of this Tweet,
and this was in ’09 so it’s the 40th anniversary of the, almost a 40th anniversary of Apollo 11. And, Seth Meyers, on SNL says, we have the first Tweet
from space, Mike Massimino, and here it is, launch was awesome. In 40 years we’ve gone from, one giant leap for mankind to, – [Together] Launch was awesome. – If we ever find life in the universe I assume this is how we’ll be notified. And it shows my little
Twitter thing and it says, Geeze dudes, aliens.
– Wow. – So they made fun of me and my kids finally sent my email on that Monday. They sent me an email on that Monday and I was, you know, after the spacewalks, they’re all like, dad,
thanks for saving the Hubble, you did great, no. It was, dad, they made fun of
you on Saturday Night Live. All the kids at school loved it, keep saying stupid stuff. (laughing) So I don’t think Neil Armstrong ever got a reaction like
that from his kids on that, what he said.
– Oh. – So–
– So that was the first Tweet. – So that was bad advice for you. – No, it was still good advice, I still think it’s good advice, ’cause his advice was, you
take care of business first and that’s what you concentrate on and I think that’s the way that he was. And I think that’s why he was chosen to be the first man to walk on the Moon.
– If only he had followed it up with, and make sure you schedule your Tweets.
– (laughing) Yeah. – And also this story, and others, we can find in your book, “Spaceman”. – Yes, thank you.
– Yeah of course. – Thanks for that plug, thanks man.
– That’s a plug, it’s a, yes, it is a plug, right?
– Thank you. – It’s authentically conceived, you’re a great story teller and I love the book.
– Thank you. – And you didn’t fix
the cover photo though because you’re sitting there smiling–
– Oh yeah, I know. – And there some rocket
coming out of your ear that’s launched behind you. – Well, I was told the
publisher’s in charge of the, you can have input for the cover, but they, I was in charge
of the words inside. – It looked like you had ear wax with a plane coming out.
– I know, and I’ve heard, in fact if the see the,
I’ve heard other comments which we can’t mention
about what that looks like, so yes, I agree. – So the two of us saw a
prescreening of, “First Man”, and everything I know
about Neil Armstrong, ’cause I knew him, I mean, I don’t claim I knew him well, we weren’t beer-drinking buddies, but, I mean, we were
acquaintances I should say. And everything I knew about him, and I think is true for you, all that you about him,
all that you knew of him, was consistent with how he
was portrayed in this film, would you agree? – Absolutely, yeah, everything
that I knew about him. (voice covers voice)
– So give me your best characterization of him ’cause some people don’t even know that. – I would say that he loved, he loved flying airplanes,
he loved doing his job, he loved being a test pilot.
– He was fighter, test pilot, he was a fighter pilot.
– A fighter pilot first. – In Korea.
– Yep. – Then test pilot.
– Then a test pilot. He was, I guess, a very
thoughtful engineer, but loved flying. When he came and spoke to our astronaut class–
– Oh, at that engineer club. – Well he was, but he saw it
as an engineering problem, as a challenge, and that’s why I think he was not just a great
pilot ’cause he loved flying, but also a great test
pilot because he enjoyed the engineering behind it. And that’s, that was pretty impressive I thought.
– That’s a, I had never thought about that.
– Yeah. – You could be fly boy and
say, give me that machine I’ll do it what I get,
but if you’re an engineer you’re thinking about that machine.
– Right. – And if the aerodynamics, the everything.
– If you’re really into that, like he was, I think it was this, and not all great engineers I think can make great pilots, but he
was one of those that could and I think that’s where you have a really special test pilot. – And do they ever make a
change to the plane and, or, and he says, no, that ain’t gonna work? – I’m sure he chimed in. I would expect that those
conversations were made, especially back in those days
when they were doing things that were much different than what they’d ever done before and how fast they were going,
how high they were going, and what they were trying to achieve. When his test pilot days there was, I’m sure there was a lot of
those conversations, yeah. – So, I would add to
that that Neil Armstrong was not gregarious, he was a very–
– That’s right. – Quiet man, did not seek publicity, did not, you know, he’s not the person you’d say is the life of the party.
– Yep. – But sometimes the people who are not the life of the party are sitting there doing nothing he’s sitting there in his
head figuring stuff out, it’s the active restless
brain of the engineer. And so this would surely capture–
– That was him and when I first met him, Neil, you described that really well. When he got up there in front of our, we all stood up and gave
him a standing ovation and just about all, I was
one of the younger people in that group of new astronauts in ’96, so just about everyone in that room, maybe one or two wouldn’t remember, remembered where they were,
and he in that episode of what he did, landing on
the Moon, that whole mission, inspired most of us to become
astronauts I would say, we all remembered it. And–
– So you’re meeting your hero? – We’re meeting our hero,
and it wasn’t just me, it was everybody. And he was, he’s the man,
right, he was the man. And he gets up there and was, it seemed almost like
he was painfully shy, almost that it was hard for him to talk. And he didn’t mention the Moon at all, he talked about test flying
and how important that is and how you have to be diligent about it and how much he loved doing that. And after he was done when we
got to questions and answers then we started asking him,
what was it like on the Moon? But up to that point he was
delivering that message, almost painfully shy, but he was… He loved so much what he did and felt it was so important that that’s what he focused on. He was the right man for the job. – Do you think NASA chose him
to be the first on the Moon because of all this? Because he does not seek publicity, because, ’cause if they got some grandstanding–
– Yeah. – Y’all look at me I’m on the Moon.
– Yep, yep. – Then here’s my book
about me being on the Moon and here’s my talk show, interview. – I’ve got a need for speed.
– Right. – You mean if it was like one of us? (laughing) Is that what you’re basically saying?
– No. – Yeah, no that’s–
– Do you think they thought that through? – I think that what they–
– They picked someone humble. – You know that seems like a, I used to think that maybe at first, but I think lately in the last few years I changed my thinking of it because I think that’s
almost too much thinking. I think really what they wanted to do, no really, I think what
they were looking for was a guy–
– I think that was too much thinking.
– No, ’cause you’re, I guess you start–
– You’re overthinking. – You start thinking too many things about this guy is wearing
blue and this you, you know, you overthink it. I think what they saw was
this was the right man to land on the Moon. Whether or not he was gregarious, whether or not he was shy, whether or not, whatever those personality traits were–
– Had ice in his veins. – He was the right man because he understood what was happening, he was gonna focus on that job 100%, not be distracted, and
maybe that has partly to do with the fame-seeking, but I think really he was chosen not for that,
for the personality part of it, but because he was the right man to do that job.
– So, did they chose who actually got out of the capsule first.
– Yeah, yeah. – I mean–
– Yeah, that’s the whole thing.
– And so, but he was the mission lead as well.
– The mission commander. – Yes.
– He was the commander, that’s right.
– And so, it wasn’t because he was
commander that he got to go first, they actually made the choice like, you’re gonna be the first
to step foot on the Moon. – And you’re commander.
– And you’re commander. Like those are two separate things? – You think.
– Yeah, and like, for example–
– It could have been like in Star Trek–
– Yep. – You go check out the glowing blob first.
– Right. – (laughing) Buzz, you check, see that glowing thing, report back to me–
– Right. – And then I’ll step off the, off the–
– And that’s traditionally… – You’re gonna be the black
ensign from the Enterprise. – But that’s the way,
that’s the way we did it, now that your saying it that’s
why I space walked apparently because that’s what we would
do in the shuttle program, the commander and the pilot would not go out and space walk, the mission specialists would. And the underlying, one of the underlying reasons was–
– Just because a mission specialists is
someone who has an expertise, usually a scientific or
an engineering expertise, brought into the service of the mission.
– Correct. – So you’re not flying the plane–
We’re not there for the landing.
– Right. – We’re not gonna land, I
mean we were part of landing, but we’re not actually gonna land.
– Right. – ‘Cause the idea is what happens if your commander goes
out and doesn’t come back who’d gonna land?
– Right. But it’s okay if you go
out and don’t come back. You could still land the–
– I hate to put it that way, – Land the bird.
– But yes. (voices cover voices) When we used to, we used to
brief for our space walks there was a lost crewman,
there was a line, everything you would check like all right, this is in place, this check,
that check, that check, and part of the briefing
was, lost crewman. And lost crewman was a procedure we had to go rescue a guy that becomes lost. And what we would do,
sort of kidding around, was lost crewman, don’t worry about it, we got three more. (laughing) That’s what we, because
we had four space walkers, so that was like the
joke and we’d all laugh, but underlying like, you’ll come get me, but we were gonna do that if we needed. (laughing) – What were we talking about? Oh, the commander, who went out first.
– Yeah, the commander. – And traditionally, I think
in Gemini what they did was, is that the commander would never go outside–
– Gemini, two astronaut capsule.
– Right, and that’s when they first space walked, Ed White was the first space walker, and Buzz was one of the last
space walkers in Gemini, but I think it was tradition–
– Buzz Aldrin. – The commander stayed
inside, yeah, thank you, but mainly a command, I
think the tradition was the commander stayed inside and it was the pilot who went out and then came back, ’cause only one guy at a time going. So this was a different case where you’re gonna have
both people going out for the walk.
– Wow. – Yeah. – Part of the authenticity of the film was there are little details that they didn’t have
to really care about, but they did.
– Yes. – So there’s a moment, I
happen to own an Omega watch that was gifted to me by Stephen Hawking.
– Wow. – And.
– That’s pretty nice. – Yeah.
– I don’t mean to name drop.
– I was gonna say I just like the fact that
you didn’t name drop. – I’ve got one too, but
I had to buy it myself. – Right.
– No, no. – I have a Stephen Hawking watch too, he just doesn’t know I have it. (laughing) – We got his watch.
– Yeah, he was just walking around just like, anybody seen my watch? Who has seen my watch? (laughing) – So (laughing). – It was gifted to you by you. – Exactly. – So, no I got the Stephen Hawking Award for Science Communication, so it’s only like a year old, but this–
– Cool man. – This introduced me to Omega watches.
– Yeah. – Omega was the first watch on the Moon.
– Right. – They were chosen by NASA
after NASA got all the premier, what the Rolex, Breitling, whatever the top watches were of the day, I wonder if they threw in a Timex, I don’t know, just to get America in there.
– I bet so. – I’m sure they did.
– I’m sure they did. – Okay, so they throw it in.
– It’s probably still on the Moon, taking a
lickin’ and keepin’ on tickin’. – Nobody remembers that advertisement. – It was a windup. – So–
– In fact the, yeah the Moon watch was a windup, but go ahead, yes. – So they put ’em all in black boxes each and scrambled ’em, and they’d shake ’em, bake them, heated ’em–
– Yeah. – Radiated ’em and at the
end of the experiments the Omega still had the correct time–
– Wow. – So Omega is our watch. And so they still milk that
today with their advertising, but in any event, in this
festival that I attended, the STARMUS Festival that
Hawking is an organizer of, Omega was one of the sponsors
so this became the watch. It’s engraved on the back.
– Yeah. – But I saw a watch that
looked very much like this on Neil Armstrong’s hand in the movie.
– It’s right here man. – It’s right there.
– I’m wearing it, yeah. – You’re wearing it–
– Yeah I have. (voices cover voices) – And did you get this
from being an astronaut? – No, no, this, okay so we had, we had Omega watches on the shuttle and the way it was explained to us, like how they won that
competition, was the crystal. Apparently that crystal
that they had on top was almost impenetrable and you could do whatever you wanted to it
and it wasn’t gonna crack, so particles are a problem. So that’s why, I think that’s why it won out.
– And with Moon gloves how do you wind a watch? – Well I think, you have to do–
(laughing) wind it ahead of time.
– Okay. – We had a different Omega that we had, you wind it ahead of time. We had a different Omega for the shuttle, this is the Moon version. I had a different that
I’ve had to purchase. Not Omega was willing, I think, to give us these watches for free, but it was a government program and NASA said, not so fast.
– It’s not allowed, yeah. – So we had to buy our watches. But we were able to
purchase them from Omega and then fly them. I’m not wearing my shuttle watch, and I’m wearing a Moon watch that, yes, I had to go into the Omega store and buy. – Man, that is messed up, man. – No, no you can’t otherwise you can be bought.
– It’s the right, yeah. _ It’s the right thing–
– It’s the right thing to do.
– That’s how you want it to be, you don’t want it the other way.
– No, no, it’s the right thing. – We gotta take a break,
yeah, we gotta take a break. You are listening to, possibly
even watching StarTalk. This is our, “First Man” edition, celebrating the life and
the first steps on the Moon of Neil Armstrong. We’ll be right back. – [Announcer] Thanks to CuriosityStream for supporting this episode of, StarTalk. We’re 50 years past the
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just kept going and leaving, like a great romantic relationship. CuriosityStream’s, “Return To The Moon”, tells the story of how
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with CuriosityStream. Signup now. – We’re back on StarTalk,
“First Man” edition. Who was the first man, Neil Armstrong, first man on the Moon. Our friend of StarTalk, Mike Massimino, he’s been in space twice. One of them to repair my
Hubble Space Telescope, I love you man for that I love you–
– Thank you, you’re welcome. (laughing) – Chuck Nice, co-host chuck. – Yes, and I’ve been in
space, I’m still in space, I’m still in space. – Spaced out and being in space, two different things, Chuck.
– Different things. – I was asked, back in 2009, to host, to MC, the 40th
anniversary of the Apollo landing. 1969 plus 40 gets you to 2009. It was in the Air & Space Museum. Mike, you tell what I did in front of, you told–
– You Moon walked. – Well I had–
– You have. – Well I had, you had
every living Moon walker in the audience in front of me.
– You said some interesting things I remember. I’m sorry, you wanna talk to
me and the Moon walking thing? – No, no, I don’t remember what I said, I can’t–
– No you said some really, you said something about being the 40th.
– The 40th anniversary, yeah okay.
– Yeah, and you was saying how 40 was an interesting number because–
– Oh. – 50 you might not, you know, and we’ve lost so many of those guys–
– Yeah, yeah. – Between then and now.
– Wow. – And you did the Moon walk which was great.
– I had to, you know I don’t dance in public–
– Wait a minute let’s go back to the 40, ’cause that sounds a little provocative.
– Oh no, so what, I’m trying to remember if this is when I said it. 40 is an interesting number because in many stories they
don’t track it beyond 40. So 40 days and 40 nights–
– Correct. – It’s not 50 days and 50 nights, 40 days and 40 nights. Jesus got 39 lashes, not 40, ’cause 40 that’s like infinite.
– Right. – You gotta reign that in.
– Okay. – You don’t wanna kill ’em–
– Right. – You just wanna hurt ’em. – Oh that’s the one lash
that would’ve did it. – Well it’s just (laughing). What else, so just the number 40 shows up, especially Biblically–
– Yes. – There you go.
– Okay. – And it’s a, so when
you pass 40 it’s like more time that historically people reckoned.
– Okay. – So, you know, one through 40 and then infinity beyond that. And so beyond that it’s like, okay, is it still there for us to remember or do we have to be reminded of it? Whereas if it’s within
40 you can talk about it, people were alive, they were conscious, they were adults, they were, so.
– That makes sense. That’s two generations basically.
– Yeah. – And beyond two generations–
– You’re stepping into the next generation.
– You’re stepping into the next generation, that
makes perfect sense, okay. – I think that set the mood at the time that this was a really special night and at that time Neil Armstrong–
– Thanks for remembering that. – Yep.
– At this event, afterwards, StarTalk was in our first year and I said, this was a
target of opportunity for me to get a bunch of interviews and we can make a show out of this. So I waited until the event was over, we had a reception and all of this, and I got interviews
with various key people in the space program at the time as well as some old
timers, like Neil Armstrong and he never gives interviews.
– Yeah. – Have you ever seen him interviewed on TV?
– No, that’s one of the things he’s known for is not–
– Is not. – Being a big talker. – Here’s why I think he
granted me the interview. – Because you Moon walked? (laughing) – I first met him when I was 14–
– Oh. – On board the SS Canberra
on route from New York City to the Coast of Northwest Africa–
– Holy cow. – To observe a total solar eclipse, the longest in the century. And he was one of the various, sort of, important people brought onboard–
– Right. – Of course they would enjoy the eclipse, but also they were
there for the rest of us to interact with and this is 1973–
– And you’re 14? – He’s 14.
– I’m 14, yeah. – Are you by yourself?
– Yeah, I’m by myself. I lied, I was 15.
– You stowing? – What did you, yeah, I was gonna say what were you stowing? – Did your parents know you
were going on this thing? – They’re like, wait–
– My parents didn’t even let me take the
subway back then by myself. – Why does that suitcase have legs? – You went on a cruise with Neil Armstrong to see an eclipse when you were 15? – I brought my telescope with me that I bought from–
– I got to a ballgame and I was excited.
– Dog-walking money, I had my telescope, I had my camera.
– Wow, awesome. – And there were 1500 people. They took off all the shuffle
board and the lounge chairs and it was a forest of tripods on this, the whole ship was a scientific floating vessel.
– Wow. – And he was there. That’s when I met Isaac
Casanova (voice covers voice) and various other sort of heroes, if you’re a geek kid.
– Right. – In the day.
– Wow. – And he was sitting–
– You were a king geek. Okay, you were king of all geeks ’cause a geek kid is just like, I can’t believe I just
got this new trading card, you’re like, I’m going to North Africa with Neil Armstrong. Like–
– For the eclipse. – You kidding me?
– Yeah. (laughing) – All right–
– Go ahead. – So he’s sitting alone–
– That’s good. – At the bar and this is one year after
the last mission to the Moon, which is 1972, it’s four years after
he walked on the Moon and he’s alone, I said, Mr. Armstrong, and I had my ship program with
his picture and everything, and I said, would you mind signing, well, I don’t know, could you sign, and so he signs it. And I just said, thank you. When I next saw him I showed him that that I was on this vessel and I think he, I don’t wanna project
what he might be thinking, but I think he saw that I become somebody–
– Yeah. – No, there’s an instant connection.
– Yes. – You come to me all these years later with a signed program–
– Right. – From a ship–
– I showed him that. – That you stowed away on so that you could go to North Africa and watch an eclipse, that’s pretty cool. I would’ve rather the
story ended with him going, pull up a stool kid, do you like scotch? – That’s what it takes
kids to get an interview with Neil Armstrong. (laughing) You know you’re not just gonna, boy, hey I’ve got my
press credentials here, no that’s not working.
– No that’s not. – Wow.
– So and it wasn’t, it was brief, but I have it and you’ll see that he’s not a, he’s smart and calm and measured and let’s check it out.
– Cool. – This is my interview
with Neil Armstrong, brief though it was. Neil Armstrong, commander of Apollo 11. How old were you 40 years ago today? – [Neil A.] I was 38.93. – [Neil] Excellent, I love it. And of the entire Apollo era what’s your most indelible memory? It could be your own walk, but if not, I’d just be curious. – [Neil A.] The most indelible memory was approaching the Moon and
flying through the Moon shadow so that the Moon was eclipsing the sun and we could see the
corona all around the Moon. It was not circular, it was elliptical, which was a big surprise,
I didn’t understand that. And then we could see the Moon, the dark side of the Moon, of course, illuminated by Earth light and we could see the
craters and the valleys and the plains in a blue-gray
three-dimensional view that was spectacular. – The texture, the image.
– And remarkable, but imperceptible to a camera, but the human eye was wonderful. – [Neil] And the last question, what do you think NASA should do next? – [Neil A.] I’m supportive
of the NASA plan and I’m–
– Just needs more money I suppose, but the ideas are there. – [Neil A.] Yeah, I think
the approach they’re on is a good one.
– I like that that’s a very pilot, the approach here. (laughing) – [Neil A.] They’re a
little below (mumbles) but, you know, they’re gonna get there. – [Neil] All right, Neil Armstrong, thanks for those three questions. – Wow.
– Yeah. – That’s pretty cool.
– The guy’s never interviewed and I felt like I was even taking too much by asking just those three questions.
– Yeah. – And, see I’m kinda giddy–
– He was really into that second, what’s the indelible, you could actually–
– Yeah. – I can almost feel him–
– Looking and experiencing it. – Looking at the Moon, yes–
– And experiencing it. – Like it was really very visceral, he’s recounting.
– And consider that’s nothing you’re gonna
get on this side of the Moon. – Yeah.
– Right. – So it had to be the back side ’cause he studied, he would’ve studied all the maps and pictures and everything. – Right.
– Yeah. – And you know one of the things that, that I noticed with the movie, that I liked, one of my favorites–
– The “First Man”. – The “First Man” movie, was that you’re able to
see what it looked like and I think they probably
did it pretty accurately. Because the film that we
had back then, in 1969, we had some, but especially of
the approach and the landing, if you remember, like the
camera is kinda looking out that triangular window
and the dust kicks up and you really don’t get an appreciation for what it was like to see outside. Can you imagine now if
we were able to do that with a bunch of GoPros, or
whatever they would stick on, you know high def cameras, we would see that moonscape. And probably even the night passes (voice covers voice) describe.
– A GoPro every foot. – Probably so–
– Mounted on the thing. – And right, you know. – Let’s make the whole–
– And it’s easy right? – Make the whole ship out of GoPros. – (laughing) That’s–
– And now, and even in the low-light
level on the other side I’m sure they could’ve found something, you know they would’ve
been able to do something. ‘Cause just recently now
we can get great images of the planet at night from
the station, for example. – And if it wasn’t clear his
point that the eye catches it, but the camera doesn’t–
– Yeah. – Is ’cause the eye in one glimpse can get a very high-dynamic range. So the Moon can be very dim, but the solar corona could be very bright and you can see all that at once. With the camera it’s gonna commit to either the bright
corona, or the dim thing, but you’re not gonna get both.
– Right. – And he’s experiencing both. – That description he gave you allowed us to picture what it was like. There’s no real good video of that, but his description of it is what we have to go on.
– Yeah, that’s so cool, like yeah.
– But you can feel that he’d rather just not be,
be interviewed, right, it’s he just wanna go on his way.
– Yeah. – But is that really the best person to have represent the fact that you have walked on the
surface of a celestial body? – That’s a good question.
– You know. I’ve heard one of his,
I heard Mike Collins at Neil’s memorial–
– Mike Collins the third astronaut who didn’t get to go down to the Moon.
– Right he was, yeah he orbited in lunar
orbit in the Command Module while Neil and, Neil
Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were on the Moon. I heard him speak at the memorial, I don’t wanna misquote him, but at Neil Armstrong’s memorial, when he died and they had
a memorial service for him at the Johnson Space Center, and he talked a little bit about that about him being maybe shy and cerebral, or whatever, but he was
like, well who would you, why wouldn’t you want that? Why wouldn’t you want this
man who was so qualified, who did such a great job, why you want him to be anything different than who he was? And I think that’s, and
I think that that’s, he was the right man to land on the Moon and I think that was what
they were most concerned with. Because, no kidding, they weren’t so sure they were coming back from that mission. They weren’t so sure they
were gonna be successful. Apollo 12 and 13, 11, 12 and
13, all had the same mission. They all trained for the same mission because they weren’t so sure
11 was gonna be successful and then it was and so then 12 had to come up with something quick, which was different than
what they did on 11. But they all trained for that same mission ’cause they weren’t so
sure 11 was gonna be, was gonna be successful.
– What you’re saying is 11 failed then–
– 12 would try. – Well next up–
– You try it, right. – You’re next.
– Wow. – If that failed, you’re next.
– 13 was gonna try it and that can be a few different ways. Not so that would get, that
they wouldn’t come back alive, but they might not get down
to the surface and come back, they would have to abort
and then come back to Earth. So it was really important for them to try to get the right
guy to be the first guy. – And they–
– And that’s what they went with, who’s the best guy to pull off the landing especially of this and then come back alive.
– And that’s why he had ice in his veins. And by the way, there’s
a misconception, I think, about the first comments from Houston after he says, Houston,
Tranquility base here, Eagle has landed.
– Yep. – Okay, which means, of
course the first word, or the first comments
from the Moon is, Houston. – There you go.
(laughing) – A plug for Houston,
Texas, my former home. – The planet, Houston.
– Yep. – So, Houston, Tranquility base here.
– That’s the way we talk. – Actually there was some other, contact light and other things.
– Yeah, contact light. – Right, but Houston
then says something like, congratulations guys, you
have a bunch of guys down here who were about to turn blue.
– Yeah, that was Charlie Duke. – Okay.
– Yep. – You think they’re saying that because they just landed on the Moon, that’s not why they’re saying it. – They were holding their breath? – That’s not, yes, they
were holding their breath, but it’s not because they
just landed on the Moon, that’s not why.
– Okay why were, okay, so why were they about to turn? Wait, they were Smurfs,
no I’m only kidding. (laughing) I’m sorry I had to do that.
– Because Neil was not happy with the
original landing spot and he only has a certain amount of fuel to prevent himself from
crashing down onto the Moon, this is keeping them buoyant.
– Yep. – Nope, too many boulders there, nope, too many boulders there, and you see the fuel
come down, wait a minute, and then he keeps going, ah,
I think I’ll go over there, and my boy is smooth.
– Yeah. – It’s like he’s looking
for parking in Midtown. – (laughing) Park, he can’t park there.
– Yeah, I can’t park there. Baby, baby, you think I can fit in there? – No, no, no that’s too tight, try over there.
– Try over there. – But if you don’t make
it you gotta go home. He probably–
– Wait, wait, wait. – Go ahead. – So then he finally finds a spot, lands, there’s like one or 2% fuel left.
– Yep. – That’s what they, because if he got, if he went to zero, ’cause if, if, if he lands with fuel in a place that he could crash because it’s not level that’s bad–
– Can’t get home. – If he keeps looking,
yeah can’t get home, if he keeps looking and runs out of fuel he’ll crash because he runs out of fuel.
– Well, he may have aborted.
– Oh, they could have still aborted?
– I don’t think he would. – If there’s abort you just, you just jettison at that point.
– Yeah, yep, I think that’s what they would’ve done.
– I forgot about that, forgot about that.
– Oh, okay. – So–
– Which is not a good deal either.
– So he, with just, and they capture this in
the film and the tension, so that’s why everyone at Mission Control was freaking out.
– Oh. – Because that’s, the
mission might not complete, not because, oh we’re happy you landed, yes, we’re all happy he landed on the Moon.
– Yeah, that’s right. – But we’re happy you landed on the Moon alive.
– Yep, yeah he was down and he had
a, low fuel light came on, 30 second fuel, or whatever it was.
– Yeah. – And the cadence of, which
is depicted in the movie, but the cadence of what, you know the calls he
was getting from Buzz, so many forward, so many down, and I think he was talking about rates at that point.
– Yeah, that’s right, the rates going down.
– Right, and forward, you have five forward to give him an idea of how
fast he was moving forward so, ’cause he’s all out the window I would think at that point and that’s the cadence of
him coming down there, yeah. – Wow, that’s fascinating. – So I gotta agree if
your mission is to succeed that has higher priority
over any social profile you have–
– Or public relations. – Yeah.
– Right. – Yeah.
– That you succeed first and worry about the rest of that later.
– Right. – And his friends, his colleagues, John Young, was still an astronaut when I became an astronaut,
and later walked on the Moon, Alan Bean was his office mate
and his colleague as well, another Moon walker, and I’ve heard him and
those other guys say, Neil was the right guy for the job. If they had a pick out of who they knew was gonna get that job
done, it was Neil Armstrong. – All right, we’re gonna
take our next break. We’re talking about, “First Man”, that’s the first man on
the Moon, Neil Armstrong, when StarTalk returns. – [Announcer] This episode of StarTalk is brought to you by CuriosityStream. – We’re back, StarTalk,
the “First Man” edition. We’re celebrating the
life of Neil Armstrong and the Moon landing and his first steps. We’ve got, Mike Massimino, Mike.
– Neil. – Very good, I’m just still laughing and chuckling at your first Tweet.
– Oh boy, yeah. – What was it, golly I’m in space, was that what it was, no.
– Launch was awesome. – Launch was awesome.
– Yeah. – Okay.
– I should’ve thought more about it, but–
– Maybe they misunderstood it and thought you meant, lunch was awesome. – No that was the first day in space, no lunch yet. You’re not feeling that great. Lunch was awesome the next day, that’s when I wrote about
the macaroni and cheese, this first day was long. – So at NASA there’s a
famous colorful character called, Gene Kranz, and he’s the one who is portrayed famously
in the film, “Apollo 13” saying what? – Failure is not an option. – Failure is not an option. I bumped into him–
– Did he say that in real life?
– Yeah, oh yeah, well, that’s the legend.
– Okay, cool. – And I bumped into him
with a microphone in tow, first year of StarTalk. I’m getting all the interviews from all these space
folks at this celebration of NASA’s 40th anniversary
for landing on the Moon, right, in 2009. Now let’s pick up with my
conversation with Gene Kranz. Here with Gene Kranz, failure
is not an option Gene Kranz, is that your middle name now? – [Gene] That’s a that’s
been a good game plan for most of my life. I really came into failure is not a option well after I started the business of Stars and Strips Forever. When I was going through flight training I had a very bad night. My first night solo I suffered
almost disabling vertigo and finally got back, landed, and the next evening you
gotta go out and do it again and there is a story about, you gotta ride the horse at 3:00. Well I was fortunate that
as I was sweatin’ it out, chain smokin’ Lucky Strikes, the flight line public
address system came alive, checking it out for the Saturday parade and they played The Stars
and Stripes Forever. I picked up my parachute,
aced that night flight, in fact I aced the business. As a cadet graduated, went
to fighter weapon school, and from that day on everyday
of my professional life started with, The Stars
and Stripes Forever. – [Neil] It’s an inspiring, everybody’s got something
that gets ’em going. For most people it’s a cup of coffee. – [Gene] Neil, I start off
with a cup of coffee too, but the Stars and Stripes,
it was interesting. I looked for something that very slowly builds the energy, builds the crescendo such that when you hit each days work you’re at the peak performance and you remain there throughout the day. I found out that basically
for my standpoint psyching yourself up
is the key to success. Believing that you can. Believing that you will. And then when you fall down believing that you can pick yourself
up and start all over again. – [Neil] I wanna ask you three questions.
– Okay. – [Neil] You ready? How old were you 40 years ago today? – [Gene] (laughing) I was 36 years old. – [Neil] You were a baby. – [Gene] I was a baby. My teams and mission
control averaged age, 26. The majority of those were
kids fresh out of college. They had a couple years training, they grew up in the Gemini
Program, early Apollo, they lived through the
disastrous Apollo 1 fire and they became tough and competent and that was the fuel,
the energy for the fire that took us to the Moon. – [Neil] What is your
most indelible memory from the entire Apollo era? – [Gene] Neil, I, I would say the most indelible thing were really many things. They were the personalities of the people. I had young kids that came
in fresh out of college who had this dream of space. I had the engineers come in who developed the initial trajectory work, John lu-el-en and Carl
ha-us-sin, te-ka win Roberts, who were absolute pure mathematicians and they reveled, I mean this world. – So most people just–
– Was life to ’em and basically I was a dumb engineer, I was a dinosaur, but my
business was not to know the work that they did
to the level they did it, my job was to be able to
ask the right questions and watch the clock. I counted cadence for Mission Control. – [Neil] So most people
who only see the astronauts have no concept of all this that’s going on behind the scenes that’s making it happen
in the first place? – [Gene] Well, the Mission Control Team has the responsibilities for planning, training, and operate. And when we have problems
during the course of the mission we have to come up with solutions that allow you to continue
with the plan that you had and if that is not possible to come up with another plan
that is just about as good. – [Neil] One last question. What’s the primary goal you think NASA should have going forward? – [Gene] I believe NASA
should go back to the Moon and then on to Mars. I believe that it’s very
important, you know, to me the Moon is like a boundary
in the Mississippi River, we’ve been across there a few times. But really think about the development that took place out West. Think about Lewis and Clark
going out to the Pacific. Think about the business of exploration and those things that
we learned and developed and discovered out there. But most importantly I think it is a human thing. Exploration is a process that must be in every person’s mind. It has to be part of their personality, it has to be the kind of thing that makes ’em wanna get up and go to work each day and discover. – [Neil] So back to the
Moon, on to Mars and beyond? – [Gene] That’s right. – [Neil] We got it, and go for it. – [Gene] Go for launch Neil, okay? – There’s only one Gene Kranz.
– Yep. – I effin’ love that guy. (laughing) I love him. – You want that to be the voice in Houston when you are in the universe somewhere. – I want that to be the
voice of everything. That guy is amazing.
– Will we be okay? You will be fine.
– I’ll tell ya what you’re gonna be, you’re gonna be absolutely terrific, that’s what you’re gonna be. Neil, I wanna tell ya, I like coffee, I like my coffee as black as space, but I use the Stars and Stripes as
the sugar in my coffee and I wake up every morning to coffee and Stars and Stripes. It’s tremendous.
– That’s America. (laughing) – That guy is awesome. That dude is awesome. – He’s really the guy that you want lookin’ out after your ass, is what it is. – Really.
– Right, right, right. – I mean you’re up there in space you wanna know that the man in charge is gonna make sure you’re okay and is gonna consider it most important.
– He didn’t mean God in that case, the man in charge, he meant, Gene Kranz.
– I meant, Gene Kranz. (laughing) No the man in charge what I really mean is the flight director. The flight director is the
person who oversees the team that is looking out for you and, and that’s what I always felt, you have a certain connection with your launch flight director, in this case I think Gene was the launch flight director for, and Mike Leinbach was
the guy that launched us out of KSC and then our launch director on my second mission, Norm Knight and Tony se-ka-chi, was the guy during orbit, and there was though, they I think follow–
– You had an orbit guy? – We had an orbit guy,
there was an orbit guy for Apollo 11 as well, right, but they all followed
I think in Gene’s steps and that was what you wanted. You wanted someone who made
sure you were coming back. – The right stuff wasn’t only the folks who flew–
– No. – It was the folks on the ground.
– Yes. And they take it just as
personal when something happens as anyone else involved. Their job is to bring you
back more than anything. – Now I know where that saying–
– You wanna guy like that, what is that? – What is that?
– Now I know where that saying comes from.
– What’s that? – [Together] Failure is not an option. – You hear people say that all the time. – You didn’t know that was Gene Kranz?
– You didn’t know it was him?
– I thought it was, I didn’t, I thought it
was like a movie quote. – That well, yeah, from him.
– I didn’t know. – Because it’s quoting him. – It’s the title of his
book I think as well, is “Failure Is Not An Option”. – Yeah, yeah, his book.
– Aw man that is. – You gotta go get this book.
– I’m gonna go get him, in me.
– Get it on audio books. – Exactly. – I hope he narrated it.
– Oh my god. – Chuck is like his eyes are popping out of his head.
– Yeah, he really, yeah. – I love that guy like this dude he’s like 76, right there
when you’re talking to him, and even at 76 and you’re
talking to this guy he sounds like a 22 year old kid. – Right, with excitement–
– Yes, – Right, right.
– I love that. – Mike, did they level with you what your risk of not coming back was? Because they made a point
of this in, “First Man”, that these risks are real
and we saw others die, Apollo 1, three astronauts died, on Earth.
– Wow. – There are test pilots who have died. So this is a specter over your choice to participate. – Uh, yeah, I think they tried to be as accurate as they could about it.
– And honest. – Yeah, and I remember
it more ’cause I was, I flew on Columbia, the mission right before we lost Columbia. And then I flew again after on Atlantis, both shuttle flights. And I don’t remember what the, there wasn’t as much talk beforehand, I guess it wasn’t maybe
as much on our mind as it was after the accident and we lived through that.
– After the Columbia accident. – After the Columbia accident. But the number I remember being told was about one out of 75 chance. And they weren’t saying we
want you to know this number it was more like, this is our
new calculated probabilities. – I was told it was like one in 50. – Well, I think it was one out of 75, and that was total destruction, that’s loss of crew and vehicle, that’s everyone’s dead and the vehicle can’t be used again. There are other odds that may be of (voice covers voice)
– They sold to the odds of reusing a vehicle with the odds of you coming back alive? – Yeah, well–
– That’s sounds pretty crass. – Yeah, but it’s, but it’s,
I hate to put it that way, but when we lost Columbia we just didn’t lose our seven friends we also lost the
spaceship and what happens to the program, so.
– Right, okay. – There’s a loss of crew and vehicle. Now losing, but it’s not so much about, this really isn’t crass I don’t think, because you can lose the
vehicle but save the crew. So if you have an abort with the shuttle and it ends up in the water as you abort hopefully the crew gets out alive. So it’s a combination of
loss of crew and vehicle was about one out of 75. And as it turned out we had two accidents out of 135 flights–
– That’s one in 50. – That’s probably how they
came up with that number quite honestly, but it was one
out of 75 with a total loss. – And do you think it
about it all when you’re, or are just too busy
doing your point of duties to even let it cross your mind? – No it.
– I’d took a flight back to New York from
Detroit yesterday morning and the whole time I was like, god, I just hope these people
know what they’re doing. – Sometimes you worry more
on a commercial flight then you are doing anything. We had a, you know, I,
yeah, absolutely, I did. I don’t know if everyone does, but I knew that there
was a very good chance that something might, you
might not be coming back. – Wow.
– And ah, I think it’s, in someways
that’s a good thing to know. – The movie captured this poignantly with his relationship with his wife and his kids.
– Yeah, and I think they also showed the,
after it was successful, how wonderful it was throughout (voice covers voice).
– That we had succeeded. – That we had succeeded. Alan Bean tells this story that after Apollo 11,
and after his mission, it wasn’t, the whole world, his impression was the whole world, it wasn’t like you did
it, or the U.S. did it, but we did it.
– We the human species. – Yeah, that motto, they
came for all humankind, let’s change it a little bit right, for all humankind, I think that’s the way everybody felt–
– We come in peace. – We come in peace for all humankind.
– For all of our. – And that’s the way I
think people felt about it. It was an accomplishment that humans, that showed what we could do, and the whole world was a part of it, and they felt it was an
accomplishment for the world. – I had the privilege and honor to be invited to Neil Armstrong’s
funeral service in Ohio after he died. And they had, the remaining
sort of Moon walkers were there, and the moment was solemn, of course, but it was also celebratory, the reflections on Neil as a person. And one thing that came across, and let me, we’re running out of time, let me sort of end on
these thoughts if I may, was, yeah, Neil was the
right guy for this job and because if he started
grandstanding his achievement then it would be like
he landed on the Moon, but in fact we all landed on the Moon. It’s our collective
first step on the Moon. Tens of thousands of
engineers, and scientists, and hundreds of millions of taxpayers, we landed on the Moon. And what did he do when he was done, he became citizen Armstrong again. He became a professor, went back to Ohio, where so many astronauts have come, became a professor and shunned interviews. And I’m reminded was it, Roman emperor, Cincinnatus, Cincinnatus after whom
Cincinnati is named, Cincinnati, Ohio–
– That’s where he taught. – He, he came to become emperor and when he was done he went back home and continued as a farmer. Didn’t exploit the fact
that he ran all of Rome, he didn’t grandstand that fact. He was called into service, he gave of himself, his time, his energy, sacrificed whatever was
necessary for his home life, when he was done he went home. That’s what Neil Armstrong did he came home to us all. – That’s pretty cool man I have to say. I understand it from Neil Armstrong, Cincinnatus, got a problem with him. (laughing) – What’s your problem with Cincinnatus?
– I don’t know, I’m just saying, you know, you were ruling all of Rome and then you became a farmer, what’s your problem buddy? Are you kidding me?
– The Roman Empire. – You had the Roman
Empire at your disposal and you go back to farming.
– It’s a reminder, it’s a reminder that some people want power for power’s sake rather than power to lead and guide others in a time of need. We gotta end it on that. Mike Massimino.
– Thank you. – Always great to have you man.
– And thanks, and thanks for doing
this for Neil, I think, for Neil Armstrong. He is a, I think the things you said especially at the end there I think those are lessons we can learn for all of us no matter
what your occupation is, how to approach things. And he was my hero as a little boy because he landed on the Moon, but getting to know him
a little bit as a person and learning more about him that’s when you realize
what a true hero he was. So thanks for doing this
and having me a part of it. – And, Chuck, if Gene Kranz is here I’ll (mumbles). – Yeah, I’m just so happy about the–
– The Cincinnati guy. – No, Cincinnatus, Cincinnatus no, Gene Kranz, forever,
that is all I’m saying. – This has been StarTalk. Most of you are listening,
some of you are watching, I’ve been your host, Neil deGrasse Tyson, as always, keep looking up. – [Announcer] Thanks to CuriosityStream for supporting this episode of StarTalk. If you’re watching this
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