My First Step

Al Bean with his right hand on the ladder, his right foot in the footpad and his left foot on the lunar surface

Painting Completed 1985
36 x 22 inches, Acrylic on Masonite

As I painted this memory, it brought back a variety of thoughts and emotions. Some I had turned over in my mind once or twice every week since November 19, 1969, and others hadn't crossed my mind at all.

I've been asked many times, "What were your thoughts as you made your first step on the Moon?" Only three other humans in all history had done it before me, the most recent being Pete Conrad a few minutes earlier.

On my cuff checklist, I would read that, in the first 5 minutes I had to practice my mobility and stability, arm motion, and downward reach. I needed to make some observations about boot penetration, soil scattering, and adhesion. I had to practice jumping back up to the bottom rung of the ladder to ensure I could easily get back in later.

For me, personally, this moment was the culmination of many dreams and fears, successes and failures, rewards and frustrations. It was an event made possible by all I had learned before in my professional life. But, this wasn't on my mind at all. I can still clearly remember thinking that I had to learn to move about in one-sixth gravity as fast as I could because, until I could move with ease and familiarity, I couldn't begin to gather the rocks, deploy the experiments, and do the other things that I had been trained to do. Any philosophic musings would have to come later.