Kuiper sits in front of a car. He is holding a sharpie pen in his mouth and the car's hood is popped.

The pen that saved Apollo 11

Kuiper dramatically reenacts Apollo 11. The neighbors try not to stare. 😂

Happy Moon Landing day!!!!!! 🌚🌚🌚 On this day 49 years ago, Neil Armstrong, @drbuzzaldrin and Michael Collins worked together to take one heckin’ step for mankind. 👣 Today’s story isn’t about the landing. It’s about how a felt-tipped pen and Buzz’s ingenuity enabled our three brave astronauts to come home together.

The Apollo Lunar Module had two stages. The bottom part remained on the moon, while the top part was equipped with a separate ascent engine allowing it to lift off and reunite with the orbiting Command Module. The tiny ascent cabin could get pretty crowded between boxes of rocks, helmet visors, giant life support backpacks and two adult astronauts.

There wasn’t really any good place for Buzz and Neil to sleep, so Buzz simply curled up on the floor the night before they were to leave and rendezvous with Mike. After lying down, he noticed a broken switch laying in front of his face. He quickly recognized it as part of a circuit breaker.

In Aldrin’s book Magnificent Desolation, he says that “his heart jolted a bit” and “he gulped hard” as he realized what it was. It wasn’t just any switch; it was “the one vital breaker needed to send electrical power to the ascent engine that would lift Neil and me off the moon.” Yikes. Buzz and Neil tried unsuccessfully to get some sleep while Mission Control debated what to do.

In parallel, Buzz tried to brainstorm his own solutions. He said, “since it was electrical, I decided not to put my finger in, 🤔 or use anything that had metal on the end. I had a felt-tipped pen in the shoulder pocket of my suit that might do the job…I inserted the pen into the small opening where the circuit breaker switch should have been, and pushed it in; sure enough, the circuit breaker held. We were going to get off the moon, after all.” When CapCom Ron Evans indicated that they were clear for takeoff, Buzz deadpanned, “Understand. We’re number 1 on the runway.” 😂👍

The pen and broken switch remain in Buzz’s possession today. I guess it goes to show that sometimes the pen 🖊️ is mightier than the spacecraft.

Original post: https://www.instagram.com/p/BleJBjZABN7/

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