We are familiar these days with the phrase ‘One small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind’. However, it is actually 50 years ago this month that it was first used by Neil Armstrong as he stepped onto the surface of the moon. In 1961 John F Kennedy had predicted that, within a decade, a man would land on the moon but few believed that such a feat was possible. Diaries held at Glamorgan Archives capture the excitement as the lunar landing module Eagle left the command module, Columbia, late on July 20 1969 to descend to the moon’s surface.
In 1969 Elwyn Llewellyn Evans from Tonyrefail was an adviser on scientific matters to the Department of Education. As recorded in his diary he watched throughout the night, with millions around the globe, as television pictures tracked the landing in the Sea of Tranquility and the first moon walk by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.
Man’s first landing on the moon. Heard at 11.30 that they expected to walk at 2.30, so slept in sitting room with alarm clock.
Emergence from lunar module slower than expected but Armstrong ‘landed’ at about 3.50. Watched Aldrin follow and watched activities to about 5am.
Three days later Columbia splashed down in the Pacific Ocean and the Apollo 11 mission was safely concluded. For Elwyn and the millions who had witnessed the two hour moon walk, it was an event never to be forgotten.
Tony Peters, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer