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Now the craft was close to the surface. "Forty feet," called Aldrin, rattling off altitudes and rates of descent with crackling precision. "Things look good. Picking up some dust [stirred up on the surface by the blasting descent engine]. Faint shadow. Drifting to the right a little. Contact light! O.K. Engine stop." Armstrong quickly recited a ten-second check list of switches to turn off Then came the word that the world had been waiting for
"Houston," Armstrong called. "Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed." The time: 4:17:41 p.m,, E,D.T., just about H minutes earlier than the landing time scheduled months before, It was a wild, incredible moment. There were cheers, tears and frantic applause at Mission Control in Houston "You got a lot of guys around here about to turn blue," the NASA communicator radioed to Eagle "We're breathing again." A little later, Houston added: "There's lots of smiling faces in this room, and all over the world." "There are two of them up here," responded Eagle. "And don't forget the one up here," Collins piped in from the orbiting Columbia.
For the next 3 hrs. 12 min., Armstrong and Aldrin busily read through check lists and punched out computer instructions, making all Eagle systems ready for a quick takeoff if it should become necessary Aldrin took time to describe the landing site: "It looks like a collection of just about every variety of shapes, Angularities, granularities, every variety of rock you could find."
After it became evident that the sturdy, 16-ton craft had survived the landing unscathed, the astronauts, eager to explore their new world, requested permission to skip their scheduled sleep period and leave Eagle around four hours earlier than planned, "Tranquillity Base," radioed Houston, "we've thought about it, We will support it."
Armstrong and Aldrin struggled to put on their boots, gloves, helmets and backpacks (known as PLSS, or Portable Life Support System), then depressurized Eagle's cabin and opened the hatch Wriggling backward out of the hatch on his stomach, Armstrong worked his way across the LM "porch" to the ladder and began to climb down On his way he pulled a lanyard that opened the MESA (Modularized Equipment Storage Assembly) and exposed the camera that televised the remainder of his historic descent. Thus the miracle of the moon flight was heightened by the miracle of TV from outer space, made possible by a special miniature camera (see TELEVISION) Because the camera had to be stowed upside down for a few seconds, Armstrong was turned topsy-turvy in the picture; a NASA television converter quickly righted it.