NASA Discloses Why Armstrong’s Boots Don't Match First Moon Footprints

Bad News, Bad Day

One moment she was staring into a microscope. The next she was running toward the director’s office – phone in hand and ready to share the alarming news.

They had spent years nurturing the story they gave the public, but now the entire thing was at risk of crumbling away – and all because of a single boot print.

Ready To Work

Lisa Thurman smiled as she grabbed a large cup of coffee and got ready for her workday.

Even from a young age, she had been fascinated with anything to do with space. To some, it was an endless void. But to her, it meant endless possibilities. So, it wasn’t a surprise to anyone that she had stayed in this job longer than most of her coworkers.

Better Equipment 

She leaned over the microscope and zoomed in on a swatch of fabric.

The new equipment was so much better than the old stuff they had been forced to work with. She could see right into the weave of the spacesuit. There was even a little bit of dust. The close-up, however, revealed two new problems.

Two Problems

First, the degradation of the area meant she needed to get another set of x-rays and run more tests to properly document the worn section. 

The second problem was far worse. It was something she wanted to avoid at all costs – something she would rather have twenty consecutive root canals instead of facing.

Asking For Green

She had been vetted by the powers that be so she could be privy to little scraps of “classified” information. The interview was the tensest situation she had ever been in.

But that was noting compared to the cold sweats she was about to have. She needed to ask for more money.

Please Sir, More

Lisa scowled and sighed. You would think that the National Air and Space Museum would have plenty of funds to conserve Neil Armstrong’s suit. 

But nooooo. She had to crawl to whoever had deep pockets and plead for scraps like some Victorian-era beggar. It was a harsh reality of her field. However, it would only be a few minutes until her day would be upended. 

What Now?!

She was fuming about the prospect of mind-numbing fundraising when her co-worker rushed in. 

He held out his phone and waved an article in her face. By his expression, it was going to be a pain. She skimmed through the words – each one making her frown grow deeper until it rested on the floor.

Idea Moment

“You’re joking,” she said, thumping her head on the counter.

“Nope,” her co-worker said, sharing her annoyed. It wasn’t the first time something like this had popped up. In fact, there had been whispers floating around the public since the rocket first broke Earth’s atmosphere. But suddenly, a light bulb went off in her head.

Getting The Green Light

They had spent years nurturing the story – after all, keeping the public’s attention was like trying to get a four-year old to pay attention to a physics lesson.

But this new little nugget might have been exactly what she needed! She grabbed the phone and ran for the director’s office.

Conspiracy Theories 

She grabbed the cup from the director’s hand and shove in the phone. Lisa grinned and pointed to the article. 

It was another conspiracy theory about the moon landing. She had heard them all, but this new one was focusing on boots and footprints. And oh boy… were people reacting. 

Using It To Their Advantage

She wasn’t all that surprised when rumors flew around the internet.

What really shocked her was people were just noticing this now?! “We can use this!” she said, jittering with excitement tapping on the hundreds of thousands of views and countless comments across several posts. “Let’s give them what they want.”

Mixed Feelings

On one hand, Lisa felt like skipping back to her office like a child playing hopscotch. But on the other hand, she woed at the fact people were so quick to believe what some joe-shmo ranted about.

Still, this was her chance. She was going to blow their minds. But she would need to nab a crucial piece of history from its display.

In Safe Storage

Neil Armstrong’s moon-mission space suit hadn’t been seen for 13 years. 

They had exhausted their cataloguing with the tech that was available at the time and had put it in protective storage. But with new advancements (the ones Lisa was drooling over as she preformed) they could bring it out again.

Fake News!

The viral post compared two photographs, one of the undersides of Armstrong’s boots, the other of the iconic first footprint on the moon’s surface. 

The image was captioned: “Do you think the moon landing was real? This is Neil Armstrong's astronaut suit, preserved in a museum. It clearly doesn't match up with his footprints on the moon. Now you decide whether the moon landing was real or a hoax.” Lisa was ready to “fight” back.

Gathering Ammunition 

Her first stop was to the archives to get the footwear that had netizens in a buzz.

The next part, however, was going to be insanely challenging. Lisa begged her boss to let their team spread the entire suit out along the table – which was tricky because many pieces were degrading and delicate. 

Let’s Do This!

It was time to show the world.

Even though it was old and wearing away, the complete set was still very heavy. They heaved and grunted to get everything in place so they could snap a few photos. Lisa took a deep breath, pulled up the NASA social media feed, and uploaded the truth.

Yep, No Match

“The photo you’re seeing isn’t Neil Armstrong’s footprint. If you want to see his boots, I’m afraid you’ll have to take a very long trip.” 

But that wasn’t the end of the explanation. Lisa felt a surge of excitement. It was so rare to get people’s attention like this. She was about to kill two birds with one stone.

Big Oopsie 

Many people know the iconic photo as documentation of the moment when Neil Armstrong steps on the moon and says: "That's one small step for man... one giant leap for mankind." 

Captions to the image of the footprint in encyclopedias and magazine articles often say something like: "Neil Armstrong's first step on the moon." So, what did Lisa’s teasing message mean?

Texture Photos

“Actually, that's Buzz Aldrin's foot, and the solo boot print is his, not Armstrong’s. Aldrin took these shots around one hour after Armstrong took his first steps as he was documenting textures.” 

In other words, countless writers and journalists in the past 50 years have mislabeled or miscaptioned these photographs. But what about the tread pattern in the footprint that was not on the astronauts’ boots?

Two Boots

The snippets of information had readers in a frenzy, demanding to know what was going on.

“The distinct tread is part of an ‘outer boot.’ Armstrong’s suit only has the inner boot left. To bring back samples, they had to leave some stuff behind.” Lisa readied her fingers for the final truth bomb.

More Shock And Awe

“But that’s not the real, shocking truth.”

“The reality is that the world might lose what little we brought back. We’re on the verge of watching our history crumbling before our very eyes.” She went on to describe the preservation and cataloguing processes ...

We Need Help

They needed to take x-rays inside the suit because they couldn’t take it apart. 

They also had to preserve the rubber attachments and create a special framework so they could mount it in the museum. And that was just a fraction of the task list. Next was digitization. They just weren’t high enough on the government spending list to get funds.

For The World To Enjoy

They wanted a digital version people could interact with. Lisa desperately wanted the suit to be ready for the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. Their “Reboot the Suit” campaign ended up exploding across the internet.

But would the sudden burst of public interest be enough to cover the hefty $500,000 bill?

Target Met!

They made their half a million and more! 

Lisa giggled with glee. She could keep working on the project and job she loved. And it was all thanks to some wonderful nuts out there who decided to bring up another crazy space conspiracy. But with the museum’s feed still getting lots of attention, she dished out some more amazing facts...

4 Days Of Travel

The Apollo 11 Saturn V lifted off from the Kennedy Space centre at 09:36 on 16 July 1969 carrying three astronauts, Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin. 

The journey to the Moon would last 4 days, 6 hours and 45 minutes, finally landing on 20 July 1969.


Before landing, a series of alarm messages sounded that none of the astronauts had previously heard.

The alarms were caused by ‘executive overflows’ because of the guidance computer not being able to complete all of its tasks and having to postpone some of them. After checking the alarm, computer technicians on the ground reassured the crew that it was safe to land.

Wrong Spot

Due to the gravity of the Moon and some extra speed gained, Armstrong and Aldrin had missed the landing site by about 4 miles and were instead faced an unfriendly sight of rough terrain and bus-sized craters.

They were forced to find a new landing site fast.

No Pressure, Right?

Dwindling fuel supplies (just 5% fuel remaining) meant that Armstrong would have a mere 60 seconds to land the lunar module before having to abort the mission.

“We heard the call of 60 seconds, and a low-level light came on. That, I’m sure, caused concern in the control centre…They probably normally expected us to land with about two minutes of fuel left. And here we were, still a hundred feet [30 m] above the surface, at 60 seconds,” recalled Armstrong.

Personal Gratitude 

Upon landing on the Moon, Aldrin gave thanks for his safety by taking communion. But he took it privately.

His communion kit was prepared by the Pastor of his Presbyterian church, who still have the chalice used on the Moon. 

Nearly A Day On The Moon

Armstrong was the first man to step onto the Moon, followed 20 minutes later by Aldrin. 

Of the 21 hours and 36 minutes spent on the Moons surface, Armstrong and Aldrin spent 2.5 hours outside the module collecting data, setting up experiments and taking pictures.

Huge Audience 

An estimated 650 million people watched Armstrong and Aldrin become the first men on the Moon, bearing witness to a historic event that will be remembered for years to come. From the lunar module on the Moon, Aldrin reflected on the enormity of the occasion:

“This is the [lunar module] pilot. I’d like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his or her own way.”

Too Expensive 

In total, 12 men have walked on the Moon in 6 NASA missions. These missions ran over a three-year period ending in 1972. Since 1972 no other crewed mission has landed on the Moon, this is largely due to the huge costs involved.

The whole Apollo programme cost an estimated $25.4 billion (about $156 billion in 2019 dollars).

First Flight Meets Space Flight

The first recorded flight was achieved by the Wright Brothers in 1903, 66 years before the first manned lunar mission. 

Neil Armstrong saw it fit to take with him pieces of wood from the pioneering Wright plane as well as a piece of fabric from the plane to symbolize the great progress made in aviation.

Two Speeches

The mission had such a large risk of failing, in fact, that President Richard Nixon had a speech at the ready in case of catastrophe. 

As nobody had ever once landed on the Moon, it was not known whether or not it was even possible to takeoff from the Moon in order to return back to Earth.

Leaving Mementos 

The astronauts left several items on the surface of the Moon, including pictures of human beings as well as audio recordings of several different languages to represent the global significance of the mission. 

Medallions bearing names of the three astronauts who perished in Apollo 1 on the launch pad and the two cosmonauts who perished in a similar accident were all left on the surface of the Moon as well.