After landing on the moon during Apollo 11, Buzz Aldrin accidentally damaged the circuit breaker that would arm the ascent engine that would get them off the moon. The astronauts activated the engine by triggering the circuit with a felt-tipped pen.

Apollo 11

This article is about the 1969 crewed lunar mission. For other uses, see Apollo 11 (disambiguation).

Apollo 11 was the spaceflight that first landed humans on the Moon. Commander Neil Armstrong and lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin formed the American crew that landed the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle on July 20, 1969, at 20:17 UTC (14:17 CST). Armstrong became the first person to step onto the lunar surface six hours and 39 minutes later on July 21 at 02:56 UTC; Aldrin joined him 19 minutes later. They spent about two and a quarter hours together outside the spacecraft, and they collected 47.5 pounds (21.5 kg) of lunar material to bring back to Earth. Command module pilot Michael Collins flew the Command Module Columbia alone in lunar orbit w… Continue Reading (51 minute read)

11 thoughts on “After landing on the moon during Apollo 11, Buzz Aldrin accidentally damaged the circuit breaker that would arm the ascent engine that would get them off the moon. The astronauts activated the engine by triggering the circuit with a felt-tipped pen.”

  1. MooseTetrino

    Lots could have been disastrous for A11 – including the fact that they almost ran out of fuel on landing because where they were going to land turned out to be a rock field.

  2. -SaC

    Buzz carries that pen with him at all times. Well, probably not having dinner or in the bath, but y’know. When he does official sort of event stuff.

  3. ohgimmeabreak

    Reminds me of a story:

    An African big-game tracker takes an American hunter on a hunt.

    Tracker: “If you see a lion charging towards you and you’re out of bullets, climb up the nearest tree”

    Hunter: “What if there isn’t a tree nearby?”

    Tracker, “There HAS to be a tree”

  4. EnaiSiaion

    Why was the circuit breaker there in the first place?

  5. TigerBone

    I start my computer by shorting the power switch so I can relate to this.

  6. Notyetyeet

    Legend says the Russians had the same problem and solved it by stabbing the control panel with a pencil

  7. 0xD153A53

    Buzz: “Oops.”

    Neil: “What was that, Buzz?”

    Buzz: “Uh…nothing.”

  8. pseudocultist

    Given the intensive way they all trained to be space MacGuyvers, I’m sure they knew in advance that the tip was electrically conductive and of a certain size, so it was trained ingenuity. This kind of thing probably happened in simulations. Not dismissing his heroism at all, just, this kind of thing was in their job description which itself is profoundly cool.

  9. funlickr

    Was that the inspiration for “In rod we trust”

  10. IbanezJEM17

    The more I learn about the moon landing the more it seems like such a harebrained mess. These guys almost messed up so many times but somehow managed to get to the moon and back.

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