Did you know that astronaut Alan Bean, the fourth man on the moon, wrote an afterword for Suzanne Slade's Daring Dozen? Slade interviewed Bean for her picture book exploring the unsung Apollo missions; in this afterword, Bean reveals what it was really like to do the moonwalk.
I’m often asked, “When you first stepped on the moon, what were your thoughts?” Although that moment was the culmination of many dreams and fears, successes and failures—none of that was on my mind. Instead, I was thinking I had to learn how to move in one-sixth gravity as fast as I could. Only then would I be able to do the tasks on the checklist strapped to my wrist, such as gather rocks and set up experiments.
It didn’t take long to learn how to run in a space suit. The knee and hip joints were stiff, but the ankle joints moved easily. So I kept my legs relatively stiff and mostly used ankle motions. It felt and looked as if I were dancing on tiptoe. On Earth I weighed about three hundred pounds with my suit and backpack. On the moon my equipment and I weighed only fifty pounds. This light weight made me feel super-strong, as if I could run forever.
“This is the moon,” I said in disbelief to my crewmate Pete Conrad while looking down at the dusty gray surface. Then I squinted and stared up at that beautiful crescent Earth and said, “That is the Earth!” It was hard to believe we were standing on our only moon.
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