Andy Masich, President and CEO, Heinz History Center:
As the astronauts got back into the Lunar lander, Buzz Aldrin spun around in the cramped space and broke off the switches that controlled the firing relays that would blast off the rockets that would allow them to get off the Moon. And as Mission Control tried to MacGyver a solution, Buzz Aldrin figured it out on his own.
He took the silver-barreled pen that had been Velcro-ed to his space suit – it was a felt-tip pen – and he modified it to fit into the hole left by the broken switch.
And at exactly the right time, while watching the second hand on his watch, he inserted the pen into the broken switch hole, cranked it up – you can see the dents on the barrel of the pen – and the rockets fired, and the ascent vehicle rendezvoused with the command module, where Michael Collins was waiting for them.