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When Armstrong said sorry to Indira Gandhi

August 29, 2012
“I apologize for the inconvenience”, US astronaut Neil Armstrong told Indira Gandhi when informed that India’s then Prime Minister had kept awake till 4.30am to watch him land on the moon on July 20, 1969.
This anecdote about the celebrated astronaut, who died on Saturday, was recalled here by former external affairs minister K Natwar Singh, who was present when Armstrong and his fellow astronaut met Indira in New Delhi as part of their world tour after landing on the moon.
Singh, who conducted the two heroes into Indira’s room at her office in Parliament, recalled that the then US ambassador was also present. After photographers snapped the two astronauts with the PM and left the room, there was an awkward silence. On being signalled by Indira to speak, Singh said: “Mr Armstrong, you will be interested to know that the Prime Minister kept awake till 4.30am, so as not to miss the exact time of your lunar landing.” Singh recalled that Armstrong rose to the occasion, and said: “I apologise for the inconvenience we caused you, Madame Prime Minister. Next time, I shall make sure that we land on the moon at a less unearthly hour”.
July 20, 1969 became a watershed date in the history of mankind after Armstrong, commanding the Apollo 11 spacecraft, landed on the moon, and accompanied by fellow astronaut Edwin Aldrin spent nearly three hours walking on the moon. Armstrong died on August 25 at the age of 82.
Indira and Armstrong
Categories: Misc
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