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WASHINGTON — It’s one of the most famous quotes in human history: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

The words that Neil Armstrong spoke while taking his first steps on the moon are ingrained in the minds of generations of Americans, but is the quote accurate?

The astronaut contends that history misquoted him, claiming that he said: “That’s one small step for “a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

The National Science Foundation used portions of two taxpayer-funded grants to try to settle the dispute once and for all.

The grants, totaling more than $700,000, were distributed to improve and understand communications for people with conditions that may affect speech, like autism and Parkinson’s disease.

One of the grants came through money provided by the 2009 American and Recovery Reinvestment Act.

The NSF acknowledges that a portion of the money was used to try to find the missing “a,” but it was also used to research how the brain understands speech.

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., calls the study an “egregious” waste of taxpayer dollars and profiled it in a monthly “Waste Report.”

The report provided no conclusions on whether Armstrong did include the “a” in his memorable quote, saying: “These results demonstrate that substantial ambiguity exists in the original quote from Armstrong.”

Cox National Content Desk |