Soon, he was a step above lunar dirt, and he paused, staring at Eagle
’s landing footpads and legs. They had been designed to compress with the force of landing, making the ship more stable, bringing its ladder closer to the surface. But Neil’s piloting skills proved to be the problem. He sat Eagle
on the Moon so gently that there was no collapsing of the pads and legs, and the bottom rung of the ladder was still 3.5 feet (1.1 meters) up.
Way to go, Armstrong, he scolded himself as he dangled a foot over the rung and fell slowly to the footpad beneath him. But before he would take another step, he wanted to be sure he could get back up to the ladder. In the low gravity, he sprang with such force that he almost missed the bottom rung. He steadied himself. Satisfied he could handle the extra-long step, he descended back onto the footpad.
“OK, I just checked getting back up to that first step, Buzz. It’s not collapsed too far, but it’s adequate to get back up.”
“Roger. We copy,” acknowledged CapCom in Houston.
“It takes a pretty good little jump,” Neil told them before turning his attention to his dilemma. For some time, he had been thinking about what he would say when he actually stepped on the Moon. He had thought about one statement he judged had meaning and fit the historic occasion, and he ran it by his brother, Dean, and others close. Neil had not made up his mind.