Neil Armstrong's Heartbeat - EKG Up For Auction
    By Patrick Lockerby | May 5th 2013 04:20 PM | 6 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
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    Neil Armstrong's Heartbeat - EKG Up For Auction

    This article has been updated - please see:
    One Small Step - Two Small Strips ( Or Maybe Three )

    RR Auction of Amherst New Hampshire has announced a 2013 Space and Aviation Autograph and Artifact Auction.  Items on sale will appeal to aviation and space buffs.  RR Auction states that "Offerings include over 850 museum quality artifacts from the Golden Age of aviation and space flight".

    I am currently writing a series of articles about the history of the development of the pacemaker, so quite naturally the item which interested me the most was an electrocardiograph of

    The heartbeats that made the first moon landing possible

    From the RR Auctions web page:

    Lot #405 - Neil Armstrong

    EKG reading from man’s first step on the moon presented to a member of the medical team


    EKG strip, six inches long, taken as Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong took man's first step on the moon. This is an actual strip of the EKG from Armstrong's heart monitor at the moment he stepped onto the lunar surface. Strip is affixed to a 7.5 x 9.5 presentation sheet which reads, “EKG Recordings Taken as Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong Took Man's First Step on the Moon" and "4:13:24:28 Ground Elapsed Time." Sheet is signed and inscribed in pencil, “To Paul Jones, The heartbeats that made this accomplishment possible as recorded at MCC on my console. Keep up your heart work. Charles A. Berry M.D.” Presentation also bears a Neil Armstrong autopen signature. Sheet is matted and framed with mission patches from Apollo 7, Apollo 8, Apollo 9, Apollo 10, Apollo 11, Apollo 12, Apollo 13, and two Snoopy patches, to an overall size of 20.75 x 24.75. In fine condition, with toning around strip from adhesive. After the landing, this EKG report was saved by the Manager of Medical Administration for the Space Center. It was cut up into five pieces; four were presented to the attending physicians on the medical team. RRAuction COA.

    Source: RR Auctions.

    Bidding for the Space and Aviation Auction opens May 16th, 2013 and ends May 23rd, 2013

    Copyright: fair use claim.
    Fair use is claimed under 17 U.S.C. 107 on the grounds that this is a news story and that it is likely to enhance the value of the item.


    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Do you happen to know from your research what the cardiograph of Neil Armstrong's heartbeats revealed, apart from it just being amazing memorabilia? How fast was his heart beating during that very difficult lunar landing with him at the controls and did it increase a lot when he took his first steps? I would be fascinated to know just how calm he was physically. He was supposed to have amazing reactions, which is apparently one of the reasons he was chosen for the Apollo mission. He managed to evacuate safely with a parachute from a new aircraft that he was testing on Earth, when it suddenly and unexpectedly exploded, to everyone's amazement. That would have been an interesting cardiograph too!
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at
    Do you happen to know from your research what the cardiograph of Neil Armstrong's heartbeats revealed, apart from it just being amazing memorabilia?

    Good question.  I zoomed in to highlight the tiny blip, circled, the only deviation from regularity worthy of attention.  I am not a doctor, cardiologist, anesthetist, brain surgeon etc but I would say that the blip has no medical significance whatsoever, else that fact would have been recorded long since.

    That's one small blip for a man, one giant leap for Mankind.

    Neil Armstrong's heart rate was reported at the time to be more normal than the crowd in the control room.  If normal means 60bpm then that graph is about 15 seconds long.  I have checked the elapsed ground time 4:13:24:28 printed on the graph against the NASA site's 4/13:24:15.  Close enough!   The format is days : hours : minutes : seconds.
    The faint grid lines on the chart are at 5mm intervals, and there are 30 vertical grid lines visible. The standard speed for ECG chart recordings is 25mm/s (still true today although ECGs are usually printed digitally). Rarely, half-speed (12.5mm/s) or double-speed (50mm/s) are made, but this ECG is not consistent with either of these. Since there are 14 beats visible, the heart rate is about 140bpm, which is quite rapid but not unusual for an adult under stress. If the chart had been made at 12.5mm/s, that would imply a rate of 70bpm, a normal resting heart rate, but in that case a nearly flat baseline segment of about half the length of each cardiac cycle would be visible between each pair of beats (between the ends of the T-waves and the onsets of the P-waves); in this ECG, these baseline segments are quite short (less than 20% of the length of the cardiac cycles).

    The glitch you noted is, as you inferred, not significant (it's electrical noise, almost certainly caused by momentary pressure on one of the ECG electrodes, very common in ECG recordings except for those made of resting subjects under ideal conditions).

    George: thank you for your very interesting and informative comment.  I could probably build a chart recorder from scratch, but as for interpreting what it records ... 


    First recording of human heartbeat.
    J Physiol. 1887 October; 8(5): 229–234.
    And now there are two!

    or maybe three:
    One Small Step - Two Small Strips ( Or Maybe Three )