What Neil Armstrong Meant To Say

Caroline Donnelly

The Famous Line:

"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

What He Meant To Say:

"That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind."

After Apollo 11, Armstrong insisted that he uttered the correct line ("a man") and that he had been widely misquoted. NASA representatives supported Armstrong, claiming that static on the radio transmission omitted the article.

Journalists have always been skeptical of the static claim, and analysis of the recordings remains unclear. Armstrong later wrote "There must be an 'a', I rehearsed it that way. I meant it that way. And I'm sure I said it that way."

When a plaque with the quote (minus the "a") was presented to Armstrong decades later, he got a little upset. The presenters played him a copy of the quote and no matter what speed or volume they listened to it, the mysterious "a" was never heard, nor was the static. Supposedly, Armstrong sighed and said, "Damn, I really did it. I blew the first words on the moon, didn't I?"

Don't worry, Neil. You still got the chance to utter one of the most famous sentences in history.

[See also today's Quick 10: 10 Movie Misquotations.]