August 29, 2011 4:57:30 pm
It’s more than 40 years since Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the Moon,but his memories of the historic flight remain as undimmed as his passion for further exploration of space.
The Apollo 11 commander,now aged 81,relived the 1969 mission that enthralled the world as he watched Google’s new high-definition images of the Moon in Australia last week.
The pictures,available on YouTube since May but which Armstrong said he had only just seen,show Apollo 11’s landing spot,including the fuel cell left behind which it also used as a launch pad.
“So for the sceptics about whether we ever landed on the Moon — this is a pretty good indication that somebody’s done it,” he quipped to a business audience that had paid hundreds of dollars to hear him speak.
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The famously private astronaut provided a rare glimpse into the flight,recalling the moment he hurtled free of Earth’s gravity at “more than 10 times the speed of a rifle bullet”.
“You’re looking down at Asuncion Island in the Atlantic at dusk,and you soon fly into darkness,” he said.
“You see some city lights on the African coast and notice lightning flashes illuminating some thunderheads like neon mushrooms far below you.”
Crossing over to the daylight side of Earth he said a “scimitar of light” became a flood,blinding in its brightness,and though minutes passed by swiftly “you seem to be perfectly motionless”.
“You look at Malaysia and the islands of Indonesia below,they’re dropping away from you six or 8,000 kilometers per hour they’re dropping away,” he said.
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