22 astounding facts about the moon landing from ‘First Man’ that are actually true

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first man ryan gosling

An estimated 530 million people around the world had their eyes on NASA astronaut Neil Armstrong as he took one “giant leap for mankind” on July 20, 1969.

Armstrong cemented his role in history that day, becoming the first person to step foot on the moon. Today, walking on the lunar surface is an honor only 11 other men share. 

But the backstory of how Armstrong was selected for that job and his tumultuous path to the moon are less well known. 

In the movie “First Man,” actor Ryan Gosling plays a young Armstrong in the ambitious and sometimes tragic lead-up to his unlikely journey to the moon. 

The film is based on the non-fiction book First Man, which was published by Armstrong’s official biographer James Hansen 13 years ago. Nearly everything chronicled in the film is true (aside from the Hollywood makeup, perhaps), including Armstrong’s near-death experience training to fly the moon lander and the death of a good friend who was chosen for the first Apollo mission.

Screenwriter Josh Singer spent four years researching and writing the movie, which already has some critics and fans buzzing about potential Oscar nominations.

“I was just knocked out by how much we don’t know about Neil Armstrong,” Singer recently told Business Insider. 

Here are 22 true facts about Armstrong’s life and the space race that the movie “First Man” recounts:

As the movie properly points out, Russian cosmonauts were ahead of the US at nearly every turn in the Cold War space race — until the moon landing.
NASA

The Russians launched Sputnik, the first satellite, in 1957. Then they sent dogs Belka and Strelka into space in 1960, and hit the moon first with its Luna probes. The nation was also the first to put people in space: Yuri Gagarin in 1961 and Valentina Tereshkova in 1963. Alexei Lenov did the first spacewalk in 1965.

Clearly, the US was lagging behind. 

Neil Armstrong worked as a test pilot at NASA for years before he went to the moon. He was the first civilian astronaut in space.
NASA

The class of X-15 test pilots that came before Armstrong were all active-duty members of the military. Many served in the Air Force or the Navy. Armstrong was in NASA’s second class.

Armstrong was no stranger to tragedy. His daughter died at age two from a case of pneumonia while suffering from a malignant brain tumor.
NASA

Armstrong was grieving and wanted to “invest [his] energies in something very positive,” his sister June told Hansen. “That’s when he started into the space program.” 

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

See Also:

Russia’s rocket failure leaves NASA astronauts with no way to get into orbit — and it could force the space station to evacuateNASA’s Hubble space telescope just lost a vital part, and one of its backups is ‘acting drunk.’ Here’s why astronomers haven’t lost hope.Boeing may have used a lobbying firm to plant a scathing opinion piece about SpaceX in US news outlets. At stake is billions of dollars in NASA contracts.

SEE ALSO: NASA turns 60 today, but the Apollo moon landing in 1969 is still arguably the agency’s greatest feat. See how the US pulled it off.


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