Attention all space cadets! If we said that the moon was made of cheese, would you believe us? Of course, you wouldn’t! Why not? Because NASA astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin have been to the moon and back, and they didn’t see any cheese!
In 1961, US President John F. Kennedy gave a speech and set a goal for the United States. It wasn’t going to be easy, but that wasn’t the point. Kennedy said, “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.” Eight years after President Kennedy gave that speech challenging some of the greatest minds in space science to put a man on the moon, NASA did just that.
On July 16th, 1969, NASA astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, and Michael Collins took off on one of the most historic space missions—a mission to the moon! Four days later on July 20th, Armstrong became the first human to walk onto the surface of the moon. The first words that he transmitted back to Earth? “That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.”
On July 20th, NASA will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, but even more, they’ll be announcing their vision for the future of space exploration. What are some of these goals? To station astronauts on the moon and send astronauts to Mars. Out of this world!
Here at Xyza, we’re celebrating NASA’s great accomplishment by sharing some interesting facts about Armstrong, Aldrin, Collins, and the Apollo 11 space mission.
1. NASA astronaut Neil Armstrong learned how to fly before he learned how to drive. It’s true! Armstrong was so fascinated with flying, he took on odd jobs so he could pay for flying lessons. On his sixteenth birthday, he earned his pilot’s license.
2. Although Neil Armstrong stepped onto the surface of the moon before his fellow astronaut Buzz Aldrin did, most of the historic pictures of a NASA astronaut on the moon is of Buzz! Why? It was Armstrong’s job to document the moonwalk so he was behind the camera, not in front of it!
3. Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins traveled to the moon, but fewer people know about Michael Collins. Why? Because the lunar module, or the module that landed on the moon only carried Armstrong and Aldrin. Collins was in a separate module, the command module, and was orbiting the moon, a task that was integral to the mission, but not as well known.
4. The exact phrase that Neil Armstrong transmitted back to Earth has been disputed by none other than Armstrong himself! What many heard, and continue to be quoted, was “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” but Armstrong claims that he said, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” Linguists (or people who study language), later agreed and said that it’s the latter that was actually uttered by Armstrong.
5. An estimated 600 million people watched the landing of the Apollo 11 on television.
6. When the astronauts returned to Earth, Armstrong had to declare moon rocks and moon dust at customs.
7. Although Apollo 11’s command module computer or the Apollo Guidance Computer was considered advanced technology at the time, your calculator is probably more powerful now.
8. Gross but true—there was a lot of farting during the eight-day mission. Why? Because the astronauts were drinking a lot of fizzy water due to a problem with the hydrogen-gas filters on the spacecraft. Pee-eww!
9. After landing back on Earth, the three astronauts couldn’t go home right away; they had to be quarantined for twenty-one days before they were given the thumbs up to head home. Why? NASA was taking extra steps to make sure that nothing was brought back that would harm Earth.
10. Although the three Apollo 11 astronauts deserve a lot of credit for completing this historic mission, there were many, many people who worked on the mission that haven’t received as much notoriety. One person is Margaret Hamilton, the person who coined the term “software engineer.” It was Hamilton and her team who wrote all the code that sent Apollo 11 to the moon. She was only thirty-three at the time and when the pieces of paper with the lines and lines of code for the mission were stacked together, it was taller than she was.