Neil stopped his thoughts, forced himself out of his introspection.
He and Buzz had much to do before they could catch a few hours’ rest, and he turned and began walking farther away from the security of Eagle.
In one sense, it was like learning to walk again — shuffling, stiff-legged, yet buoyant — something like wading through chin-deep water with his feet striking bottom — floating in low gravity within his spacesuit.
On Earth, his exoskeleton weighed 348 pounds (158 kilograms). Now, on the Moon, it only weighed 58 pounds (26kg), and he told Mission Control, “There seems to be no difficulty in moving around as we suspected. It’s even perhaps easier than the simulations at 1/6-g that we performed. It’s actually no trouble to walk.”
Neil’s first task was to collect a contingency sample. If they had to abort the moonwalk early, a small bag of lunar soil would make scientists happy. But he told himself he should do that in sunlight, and for now he needed the camera. He needed to take pictures while his eyes were still adapted to the shadows.
“OK, Buzz,” he asked his partner, “we ready to bring down the camera?”
“I’m all ready,” Buzz told him. “I think it’s been all squared away and in good shape, but you’ll have to play out all the LEC [Lunar Equipment Conveyor]. It looks like it’s coming out nice and evenly.”
Neil mounted the camera on a bracket on his chest and stepped forward to take the number one photograph. It was to have been his first footprint on the Moon, but no sooner than he looked for it by the footpad, he was ready to kick himself. In his movements to check out Eagle’s stance and operate the conveyor line to bring the camera down, he had walked over it. It was obvious his later steps had blotted out his first.
Then Bruce McCandless called, “We see you getting some pictures and the contingency sample, Neil.”
Neil didn’t move. He stood there disappointed with the loss of the first footprint, and McCandless asked again, “Neil, this is Houston. Did you copy about the contingency sample, over?”
No one was more aware than Neil how important the contingency sample was, and he told Bruce, “Roger, I’m going to get to that just as soon as I finish these picture series.”
Buzz watched as Neil completed the photographs and walked away to a sunlit area. He asked, “Going to get the contingency sample there, Neil?”
“Right,” Neil answered.
“OK. That’s good,” Buzz agreed.