Apollo 11 (AS-506) was considered to be the first landing mission. And yes, up to early 1969 nobody thought the plan out thoroughly enough.
Note on lunar module crew positions:
- Neil A. Armstrong - commander
- Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr. - lunar module pilot
Above them, in the 183x186 orbit:
- Michael Collins - command module pilot
Now let's see: Chariots for Apollo :
Landing, surface work, and ascent were going to be difficult, complex, and demanding tasks. George Mueller, the manned space flight chief in Washington, had therefore urged in mid-1968 that the first lunar landing crew be selected as soon as possible. (George E. Mueller to Robert R. Gilruth, 5 June 1968)
When Houston began work on the two-man scheme, the planners used a 1964 concept that called for the lunar module pilot to emerge first. Armstrong and Aldrin began concentrating on Apollo 11 as soon as they finished their backup duties for Apollo 8 in December. Almost immediately, on the 20th, a procedures document listed the commander as the first crewman to leave the lunar module. On a summary minute-by-minute work chart, issued in January 1969, the crew positions - commander and lunar module pilot - were crossed through and the letters A and B were penciled in. A lunar surface operations chart, using these letters, was then published, but without any identification of either A or B.
Collins wrote in Carrying the Fire that Armstrong had "exercised his commander's prerogative" and that Aldrin's "basic beef" was this switch in who crawled out first. But Slayton later took the credit (or blame) for making the change. "I observed the procedures under the old plan one day," he said, "and they appeared awkward to me." Slayton told Raymond G. Zedekar, in charge of preparing a lunar surface operations plan, to change the sequence. At the 15th lunar surface operations planning meeting on 14 February, Zedekar said that Aldrin would follow the commander to the lunar surface in less than the hour listed in the old plan, to assist Armstrong with the outside tasks, and that the lunar module pilot would return to the lander first. "If the CDR returns last," Zedekar remarked, "the crewmen will be in their proper respective positions in the LM." Since the portable life-sustaining backpacks were stored directly behind the lunar module pilot's crew station, getting out and then back in this sequence made crew movements in the cabin easier. (23)
Surprisingly, Mueller did not inform Administrator Thomas Paine that the two men would take a 2-hour 40-minute walk, nor did he tell him that the order of exit had changed, until 7 April - at least, that was the date of his written report. Even more surprising was the fact that it was not until 14 April that a newsman asked Low, "Who will be the first out to the moon?" Low replied that, from "the present way that we're working, . . . the Commander gets out first." The change later roused a small furor. Low was awakened in the middle of the night on 27 June by a call from an Associated Press reporter, who told the Apollo manager that the wire service had a story" that Neil Armstrong had pulled rank on Buzz Aldrin." (Armstrong, incidentally, was a civilian and Aldrin a colonel in the Air Force.) (24)
(23) Collins, Carrying the Fire, p. 347; Robert Sherrod, "Men for the Moon," in Edgar M. Cortright, ed., Apollo Expeditions to the Moon, NASA SP-350 (Washington, 1975), p. 160; Slayton and Raymond G. Zedekar, telephone interviews, 18 March 1976; Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corp., Space Div., "Anatomy of the NASA Grumman Apollo Lunar Module," in Apollo Spacecraft News Reference (Bethpage, N.Y., 1969); MSC, "Results of 15th LSOP Meeting," 14 Feb. 1969; L. J. Riche, G. M. Colton, and T. A. Guillory, "Apollo 11, Apollo AS-506/CSM-107/LM-5, Preliminary Flight Plan," 15 April 1969, pp. 3-78, 3-79.
(24) OMSF Weekly Report, 7 April 1969; Astronautics and Aeronautics, 1969: Chronology on Science, Technology, and Policy, NASA SP-4014 Washington, 1970 , pp. 68, 100; MSC, "Apollo Program History," briefing, 14 April 1969, tape D-1; Low to Brian M. Duff, "Press Inquiry," 27 June 1969, as cited in Ertel and Newkirk, Apollo Chronology, 4.