The legendary astronaut stepped foot on the lunar surface on July 21, 1969, alongside his colleague Neil Armstrong. Together, the pair jumped off the lander and buried the US flag into the dusty surface, before Armstrong delivered his legendary “one small step” to the millions watching back home. Their actions would bring the end to the Space Race between the US and the Soviet Union, but Aldrin shocked Professor Cox, confessing that the Apollo 11 crew had little to do at some points.
Talking about launching the Saturn V rocket outside of Earth’s orbit, Aldrin said in 2016: “You’re not piloting anything, you’re along for the ride.
“Technically, if things did go wrong, there’s a way you could do some steering, nobody has ever done it.
“There is that provision with the end controller, that if the guidance from the engine started to veer off, you could possibly get it straightened away, then separate.”
Aldrin explained how the Apollo mission differed for the pilot compared to his previous Gemini flight.
Buzz Aldrin had a confession over Apollo 11
Everything was very well orchestrated
He added: “You could go up, down, forward and you could do the manoeuvres to bring the spacecraft together.
“You could dock, as we did, with another rocket that had a powerful engine and then it could take you up to 800 miles.
“We did that on one mission, we were supposed to do it on Gemini 12, but something went wrong.
“That spacecraft really was one that you could manoeuvre.
“Apollo was so programmed in its pathway, that it just wasn’t the sort of thing you could move around, everything was very well orchestrated to be part of the total flight plan.”
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Aldrin then compared the mission to flying an aircraft, with the opening stages like being on autopilot.
He added: “I get in before I go flying an airliner and talk to the pilots, they set things up with the buttons and then it flies itself.
“It’s not being flown, except for landing and takeoff, so we’re getting very mechanical.
“As a result, in some cases – when the pilots do takeover – they’re not always as proficient as they should be.
“You can be too automated.
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“If something goes wrong when it’s automated, you better know how to recover from it.”
But, Armstrong would end up having to take over the controls during the descent onto the Moon’s surface, as the lander looked destined for a crater.
Five minutes into the descent burn, and 6,000 feet above the surface of the Moon, the Lunar Module guidance computer (LGC) distracted the crew with the first of several unexpected 1201 and 1202 programme alarms.
Inside Mission Control, computer engineer Jack Garman told Guidance Officer Steve Bales it was safe to continue the descent, and this was relayed to the crew.
Armstrong found a clear patch of ground and manoeuvred the spacecraft towards it.
Eagle landed with just 25 seconds of usable fuel left.