London, July 22 (ANI): A British scientist has claimed that he coined Neil Armstrong's "one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind" speech as he became the first man to set foot on the moon.
According to a report in The Times, the claim has been made by Gary Peach, who was a back room boffin 40 years ago helping keep open Armstrong and his co-pilot Buzz Aldrin's communications with Mission Control in Houston.
He was stationed at Tidbinilla, an 85ft satellite dish near Canberra, and in the run up to the landing was wondering what the first words spoken on the moon would be.
He was concerned that the Apollo 11 astronauts, both former US Navy fighter pilots chosen for their steady nerves rather than their eloquence, might fail to capture the momentous nature of man's first footstep on another planet.
Peach, now 73 and living in retirement in Newbury, Berkshire, says he raised the issue with a senior NASA official visiting Tidbinilla shortly before the launch.
The official, Monkton, entered the Deep Space Control Room where Peach was making some last minute checks and asked if there were any problems.
Peach said, "I replied no technical problems, but I am concerned about the historic moment when the first man sets foot upon the Moon. In the excitement, knowing the Yanks as I do, it'll probably be something like 'Holy chicken s**t look at all that f***ing dust."
"I said I felt that would not be a suitable thing to be quoted in history books until eternity," he said.
Monkton then asked, "Well what would you say?" to which Peach, who had been mulling it over for several days, replied, "One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind."
He says that Monkton said, "We didn't think of that", and left the room in a hurry.
Five days later, Armstrong stepped on to the lunar surface and fluffed his most important line.
Instead of that's one small step for a man, he said "that's one small step for man..." thus committing a tautological error. Despite the error, it remains one of the most momentous statements ever made.
"The idea was to let future generations know that we were aware of what we were doing and we were not doing it by accident. I heard the landings at work and when I heard what he said I was not displeased.
But at the time, I just got on with my job. The rest is history," said Peach. (ANI)