The cramped cockpit area of the lunar lander (LEM) filled with alarms “1202 error, 1202 error” meaning the onboard computer was crashing due to a flood of data. Finally, the “1201 error” sounded out — meaning a complete shutdown of the main computer. The onboard electronics had barely any computational power — far less than even a cellphone — probably even less than a two dollar kiddy toy today.
The two White astronauts standing at the helm (there wasn’t any pilot seats), Neil Armstrong and “Buzz” Aldrin, had a choice: Abort by firing the main ascent engines to regain orbit or take the bull by the horns. They had less than a minute before they went into a free-fall, very possibly crashing down on the moon, marooning the two for the short amount of time it would take for them to run out of oxygen and electrical power. If this had happened, right now the two today would be frozen corpses, their faces and and limbs twisted up, slowly floating around close to the floor inside the LEM.
But we all now know what happened. Armstrong brilliantly took manual control of the craft. Ahead of him was a large crater and boulders the size of Volkswagen cars. He had to deftly handle the joystick to get them over that to something better to land down on.
The famous words “Houston: Tranquility base here. The Eagle has landed” were heard over the squawk box back at Mission Control. Armstrong had handled it perfectly, setting down the lander with mere seconds to go. Armstrong was one cool customer. Having him at the controls paid off big time for NASA. He already had survived one fiery crash on Earth piloting an unwieldy training version of the LEM by ejecting when the craft went haywire. That ejection seat could easily have driven him head first into the ground.