Remarkable flown double-sided “Prep for Undocking” page from the Apollo 11 LM Activation Checklist, 8 x 5.5, signed and flight-certified in blue ink, “Flown to the Lunar Surface on Apollo XI, Buzz Aldrin.” The opposite side of the page bears in-flight notations by Neil Armstrong, “V48, 21102, PRO, V34E, Go to Descent.” The pages are numbered at the top, “ACT-62” and “ACT-63.” In fine condition. Accompanied by a signed letter of provenance from Aldrin, in full: “Enclosed with this letter is a page numbered 62 and 63 from the Apollo 11 LM Activation Checklist. The entire checklist was carried to the surface of the Moon in Lunar Module Eagle during the first lunar landing on July 20, 1969. Page 62 lists steps to prepare for undocking with the Command Module Columbia prior to the lunar landing. Page 63 has the steps I used to mount a 16mm motion picture camera in the right LM window. Neil Armstrong recorded the values of ‘V48 21102 PRO V34E Go to Descent’ below the printed steps on this page. The complete checklist was an important document to the success of our mission. It provided steps to properly activate Eagle in preparation for the first lunar landing. The page has been in my private collection since 1969. I have written on page 62: ‘Flown to the lunar surface on Apollo XI’ and signed it on the right side of the page.”
This incredible artifact details the steps taken prior to Lunar Module’s undocking from the Command Module to begin man’s first-ever journey to the lunar surface. Armstrong’s notations concern the operation of the LM Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) via the keyboard interface known as the DSKY, penned as he and Aldrin programmed the LM computer to confirm their position: “V48,” which signifies ‘Verb 48,’ was a command to load Digital Auto Pilot data into the AGC; “21102” was likely a data point related to the attitude of the LM returned by Verb 48; “PRO” was a key on the DSKY meaning ‘proceed’; “V34” would terminate the action after the data was received, and “E” signifies the ‘enter’ button. “Go to Descent”—iconic words penned by Armstrong as he prepared to land on the moon—acknowledges that the AGC was in sync with Mission Control and that the LM was in position to commence its journey to the lunar surface.
Upon finishing the steps on this checklist page, the Lunar Module Eagle separated from the Command Module Columbia, and CMP Michael Collins performed a visual inspection of the Eagle to ensure the craft was undamaged. Armstrong and Aldrin then began their powered descent, during which Armstrong had to turn off autopilot and assume manual control in order to land the craft safely in a flat plain—the ‘Sea of Tranquility.’ The Maurer 16mm Data Acquisition Camera (DAC)—which, following the steps on this checklist, Aldrin had set up to point outside the LM’s window—recorded Neil Armstrong’s historic first steps on the lunar surface, and was then set to a time lapse mode capture the rest of the EVA. A most important Aldrin-certified surface-flown piece featuring incredibly rare working notations by Armstrong as they prepared to undock and begin their breathtaking descent to the moon.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.