Where were you?

If you were alive when man first walked on the moon 43 years ago, chances are this moment is forever etched in your memory.

An event arguably as big as any in the history of the United States, Neil Armstrong’s first steps came on television at 10:56 p.m. (EDT) on July 20, 1969.

Charlie Duke remembers. How could he not?

The Capcom astronaut for that Apollo 11 mission entrusted with communicating with Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin during their landing on the lunar surface, Duke could hardly breathe in those final minutes. The mission was in real danger of aborting and Duke was the sole communication link from mission control to the astronauts hovering over the moon.

“Very intense, very hectic,” Duke remembers that night in Houston. “We experienced a lot of communication problems, data dropouts, computer overload warnings. But we kept going.”

Hanging in the balance was nearly a decade worth of grueling work to fulfill President Kennedy’s 1961 dream and promise to put a man on the moon—and return him to Earth safely—by the end of the decade.

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