On July 20, 1969, about 500 million people saw history happening before their eyes when Neil Armstrong took his "little step for man, but a big step for humanity," becoming the first human being to step on the moon's surface.
And these are exactly the events explored by the film First Man, starring Ryan Gosling, who plays a young Armstrong, and all the difficulties he went through to become an astronaut. The film is based on the book of the same name written by James Hansen, Armstrong's official biographer, thirteen years ago.
In preparation for the film's premiere, here are 10 real events from Armstrong's life that are portrayed in First Man:
1) Until they sent the man on the moon, the Soviet Union had won all the Space Race battles that took place during the Cold War. The Soviets were the first to put a satellite into orbit in 1957 (Sputnik), they sent the first living beings into space in 1957 with the dog Laika, and they sent both the first man (Yuri Gagarin, in 1961) and the first woman ( Valentina Tereshkova, in 1963) for Earth orbit, besides being also responsible for the first astronaut to conduct an extra-vehicular activity in space, with cosmonaut Alexei Lenov in 1963.
2) Neil Armstrong was the first civilian to be sent into space. Before him, all the other astronauts used by NASA were military. But, because of his years of experience as a test pilot at NASA, Armstrong was the first civilian to be chosen by the agency for its space missions.
3) Armstrong joined the space program because of a personal tragedy: his daughter had developed a brain tumor as a baby, and died of pneumonia when she was just two years old. During the period of mourning, Armstrong decided that he wanted to dedicate himself to a cause that could change the world, and that was what made him join NASA's space program.
4) During the eight years of research responsible for the mission that took a man to the moon (Apollo 11), NASA suffered from a series of protests from people who thought that the US $ 24.5 billion invested by the US government in missions Apollo's were a waste of public money. Gil Scott-Heron (jazz and poet best known for his poem / song The Revolution Will Not Be Televised ) even wrote a song on the subject, in which he wonders if misery on Earth exists only because someone wants to put a white man on the moon.
5) Before being part of the mission that reached the Moon, Armstrong participated in Gemini 8, the sixth crewed spaceflight- something fundamental for the successful trip to the Moon. Despite everything going well, the mission almost ends in tragedy: after docking, one of the ship's propellers failed, and the defect caused Armstrong and David Scott, his co-pilot, to start spinning out of control, almost lost forever in outer space. But the two managed to regain control, and made an emergency landing in the Pacific Ocean, causing a mission that was initially supposed to last three days to be completed after just 11 hours.
6) A year later, Armstrong finds himself once again facing mourning: during the launch of the first Apollo mission, one of the launch bases ended up on fire, killing the three rocket crew. One of the astronauts was Ed White, Neil Armstrong's neighbor, and close friend
7) One year before the trip to the Moon, Armstrong suffered a second near-death experience: during a test of the lunar module in Houston, the vehicle started to leak, and Armstrong lost his control, which forced him to abandon it more than 60 meters from the ground. The problem was investigated and soon resolved by NASA, and a month before the mission to the Moon, the astronaut tested the equipment again, this time without surprises.
8) Armstrong trained on the ground all the movements he would make on the surface of the Moon, including going up and down the stairs of the lunar module using the complete astronaut uniform.
9) On July 19, 1969, Armstrong finally set out on an eight-day mission to the moon. The rocket had very little space for the three crew members to share, and literally no bathrooms, which forced astronauts to do their needs in plastic bags.
10) Four days after launch, the crew finally entered the lunar module for landing on the Moon. Despite this, only two of the three crew members on the mission (Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin) entered the module to descend on our natural satellite, with the third member, Michael Collins, staying on the ship awaiting the return of both. Despite the difficulties of getting there, the landing on the Moon occurred without problems. When interviewed by the press, Armstrong made sure not to take all the credit, making it clear that the moonwalk was only possible by one because of the hundreds of people who participated in the whole process.