Famous Phone Calls: President Nixon Telephones the Moon

nixon calls the moon

When the phone rings, you can never be sure whether you will be picking up a call to someone trying to sell you a printer or to an important client who urgently needs assistance. That’s why it is so important to pick up the phone – a phone call could be life-changing for your business!  However, we know that it can be near impossible to answer every incoming business call when you operate on your own or as part of a small team.

To highlight the significance of answering phone calls, we are creating a blog series that focuses on important phone calls that have made their mark on history. So, where better to start than with President Nixon’s telephone call to the moon!

The first man on the moon

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy set a mission to “perform a crewed lunar landing and return to earth”. Subsequently, in the late 60’s and early 70’s, NASA successfully carried out a human spaceflight programme titled Project Apollo. President J. F. Kennedy actually had little interest in the U.S. space programme, however, he was very concerned with balancing the power between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. In the heat of the cold war, Project Apollo was in fact a reactionary measure to the Soviet Union’s accomplishments in space.

Project Apollo comprised of 17 space missions, but the most significant of all was Apollo 11 which succeeded in J. F. Kennedy’s mission to land two men on the moon and safely return to earth.

On the 20th of July 1969, Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Michael Collins made history and landed on the moon. Neil Armstrong then became the first human being to step on the moon. Following this, both Armstrong and Aldrin walked around for three hours while Collins stayed in orbit, taking photos and conducting tests.

The most historic telephone call ever made from the White House

At 11.49pm, President Nixon telephoned Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin via telephone-radio transmission. The call was made via an old-fashioned green phone from the Oval Office at the White House and goes down as one of the most significant phone calls in history. At the time, Nixon termed the telephone call as the “most historic telephone call ever made from the White House.”

During the call, President Nixon thanked the astronauts and expressed his pride and gratitude:

“I just can’t tell you how proud we all are of what you have done. For every American this has to be the proudest day of our lives, and for people all over the world I am sure that they, too, join with Americans in recognizing what an immense feat this is.”

Neil Armstrong responds: “Thank you, Mr. President. It is a great honor and privilege for us to be here representing not only the United States, but men of peaceable nations, men with an interest and a curiosity, and men with a vision for the future. It is an honor for us to be able to participate here today.”

Both President Nixon and Armstrong went on to thank each other and briefly discussed meeting at the Hornet after Apollo 11 had concluded.

It was clear that President Nixon was incredibly pleased with the mission. Immediately following the call, Nixon joked: “I’d hate to get the toll charges on that call.”

However, Aldrin writes in his autobiography that the phone call was short and awkward. This is because the pair were given no prior warning about a phone call and therefore had little to no time to prepare. To put even more pressure on Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong, the whole phone call was recorded live and televised to the world. Although Aldrin had no input in the conversation due to the lack of preparation given to the astronauts, Neil Armstrong managed to put together a powerful statement which has made it’s mark in history!

Posted by Erica Thomson

Image Courtesy of Digital Images Studio/Shutterstock