Neil Armstrong's brother Dean, in a recent interview, suggests that the astronaut may have lied about his famous "One small step for man" line. According to Dean, contrary to Neil's claim that the line was spontaneous, he had composed it months ahead.
But many admirers of Armstrong are questioning the relevance of Dean's revelation, saying it does not detract from the historic significance of his achievement.
According to the Daily Mail, in one of the best known biographies of Neil Armstrong's Apollo mission, entitled "A Man on the Moon," the author Andrew Chaikin, wrote that as the mission launch neared, Armstrong came under pressure with suggestions from various quarters about what he should say at the historic moment.
After several interviews with people who were closely involved in the Apollo mission, Chaikin concluded that Armstrong had not decided in advance what he was going to say after Apollo 11's Eagle lunar module lands on the Moon. According to Chaikin:
"Now, on the moon, Armstrong knew he could delay no longer. As he thought about the first step he would take from Eagle's footpad he pondered the inherent paradox - a small step, yet a significant one - and he knew what he would say."
But according to Dean Armstrong, the story is not exactly as Chaikin believes or as Neil Armstrong claims. Dean's story suggests that Armstrong may have misrepresented the truth about his historic "One small step for man" line. Dean claims that Neil wrote the line several months before he traveled to the Moon on Apollo 11.
In a new BBC documentary, three months after the Armstrong's death, Dean claims he recalls Neil showing him his written speech several months before the Apollo 11 mission. According to Dean, the written speech included the statement, "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind."
Dean's statement contradicts Neil's that he composed those words after he had landed on the Moon, and confirms Neil's claim that the original line had included "a" before "man."
In the longstanding controversy over what he actually said at his first step on the Moon, Armstrong had consistently maintained that he said "that's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind," and not "that's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."
After he reportedly listened to the recording in 1999, Armstrong admitted, like millions of other people who watched the landing and heard him speak, that he had not heard himself say "a," but he claimed that static may have obscured the sound of "a" in his voice.
However, in 2006, a computer expert and Australian computer programmer Peter Shann Ford, ran a software analysis that he said supported Armstrong's claim. NASA also supported his story. According to NASA spokesman Michael Cabbage, "If Neil Armstrong says there was an 'a,' then as far as we're concerned, there was 'a.'"
In the new BBC documentary titled, "Neil Armstrong — First Man on the Moon," which first aired on Sunday, December 30, 2012, Dean recalls that months before the lunar mission, his brother invited him to spend some time with him.
According to Dean: "He [Neil] said 'why don't you and I... why don't we play a game of Risk. I said I'd enjoy that. We started playing Risk and then [he] slipped me a piece of paper and said 'read that'. I did. On that piece of paper there was 'That's one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.'" (Dean inadvertently dropped the "a" in the documentary.)
Dean continued: "He says 'what do you think about that?' I said 'fabulous'. He said 'I thought you might like that, but I wanted you to read it.'"
Armstrong's supporters have questioned the significance of Dean's revelation, arguing that regardless of the timing, it is undisputed that Armstrong did indeed compose the line himself. His supporters say that the fact that the line was original to him is what really matters. They also say that the timing does not detract from the significance of his achievement.
Neil Alden Armstrong was born in Wapakoneta, Ohio on August 5, 1930, and died on August 25, 2012, after his 82nd birthday. According to his family, he died from complications from a cardiovascular procedure.