Image: Flag planting
NASA via AP file
Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, the first men to walk on the moon, plant the U.S. flag on the lunar surface in this photo from July 20, 1969, taken by a camera on the lunar module. One of Apollo 11's historical controversies may have been finally cleared up.
updated 10/1/2006 1:37:59 AM ET 2006-10-01T05:37:59

That’s one small word for astronaut Neil Armstrong, one giant revision for grammar sticklers everywhere.

An Australian computer programmer says he found the missing “a” from Armstrong’s famous first words from the moon in 1969, when the world heard the phrase, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

The story was reported in Saturday’s editions of the Houston Chronicle.

Some historians and critics have dogged Armstrong for not saying the more dramatic and grammatically correct, “One small step for a man ...” in the version he transmitted to NASA’s Mission Control. Without the missing “a,” Armstrong essentially said, “One small step for mankind, one giant leap for mankind.”

The famous astronaut has maintained he intended to say it properly and believes he did. Thanks to some high-tech sound-editing software, computer programmer Peter Shann Ford might have proved Armstrong right.

Ford said he downloaded the audio recording of Armstrong’s words from a NASA Web site and analyzed the statement with software that allows disabled people to communicate through computers using their nerve impulses.

In a graphical representation of the famous phrase, Ford said he found evidence that the missing “a” was spoken and transmitted to NASA.

“I have reviewed the data and Peter Ford’s analysis of it, and I find the technology interesting and useful,” Armstrong said in a statement. “I also find his conclusion persuasive. Persuasive is the appropriate word.”

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