Payload Blog

Featured Flashback: Close Call for the Apollo 11 Moon Landing


Fifty years ago to this day, Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the lunar surface. An estimated 600 million people around the world watched as Armstrong took the first steps on the Moon, saying “That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Before this historic moment occurred, however, Charlie Duke recalls the tense and silent moments in Mission Control as a low fuel warning threatened a mission abort only 60 seconds prior to landing. The issue began as they descended to the lunar surface. Neil Armstrong spotted a giant boulder field, which made their planned landing site unsuitable. Armstrong quickly maneuvered over the boulders, looking for a new place to land. After flying another mile, an alarm went off warning of low fuel.

Apollo 16 astronaut Charlie Duke was serving as the Apollo 11 capsule communicator (CAPCOM) for the lunar landing. In this short video, he shares this incredible story and the palpable excitement in the room when Neil Armstrong finally said, “The Eagle has landed.”



Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex’s Untold Stories from the Rocket Ranch video series shares personal, behind the scenes experiences as told by NASA engineers, technicians and scientists. For a complete playlist of this series and Tell Me a Story, view the visitor complex’s YouTube Channel, ExploreSpaceKSC.