Space is Free…
Quick pop-quiz question for you: What were the first words Neil Armstrong said to NASA mission control when he landed on the moon?
No, as you will have guessed, they were not “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” They were in fact “My antenna’s out”, which a) suggests that in reality, humankind’s greatest moment of discovery actually commenced with the technology going wrong, and b) is strangely comforting.
I know this because a few years ago we were doing some work for Motorola exploiting the fact that the company had made the radio transmitters used by Armstrong and NASA during the first moon landing. I wondered if we could somehow reproduce all of the conversation containing the famous phrase. This turned out to be incredibly easy, because NASA diligently archives this sort of thing. What’s really amazing is that because NASA is a government agency, it doesn’t usually copyright images. And so, as long as you have a non-commercial use for their images, you’re free to reproduce them.
In a world in which rapacious photo libraries are buying up archives everywhere, this seems a beautiful thing to me. The poster we made from the speech – for which Motorola paid the commercial fee, by the way – is here.