Neil Alden Armstrong was the first person to walk on the Moon during the NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) Apollo 11 mission on 20 July 1969. His iconic words, “that’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”, were heard by 13% of the world’s population at the time. The historic event happened when Armstrong was working as an American aeronautical engineer and an astronaut.
Life Events of Neil Armstrong
Armstrong was born on August 5, 1930, and raised in Wapakoneta, Ohio. As an ardent lover of airplanes and space, Armstrong got his pilot’s license when he was sixteen, even before he got a driving license. In 1947, he started his degree at Purdue University and worked as a Naval aviator from 1949 to 1952. In 1955, after graduating from Purdue University as an aeronautical engineer, Armstrong left military service and started working as a test pilot at National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA).
- Armstrong joined the NASA Astronaut Corps in the second group, which got selected in 1962. In March 1966, as command pilot of Gemini 8, Armstrong made his first spaceflight. As a result, he became NASA’s first civilian astronaut to fly in space. However, Armstrong’s training for his second and last spaceflight as commander of Apollo 11 was not so smooth as he had to eject from the Lunar Landing Research Vehicle moments before a crash.
- On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 Lunar Module (LM) pilot Buzz Aldrin and Armstrong became the first two people to land on the Moon. The next day, they spent two and a half hours outside the Lunar Module Eagle spacecraft, while Michael Collins (another phenomenal astronaut )remained in lunar orbit in the Apollo Command Module Columbia.
- After becoming part of the headlines after his heroic deed, Armstrong wasn’t delighted as he always shied away from being a public figure. Therefore, he resigned from NASA in 1971 and started working as a Professor of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Cincinnati and stayed there till 1979.
Impact of Neil Armstrong on Pop Culture
Throughout his life, Neil Armstrong inspired millions through his dedication, bravery, and success. People have dedicated books, movies, miniseries, and documentaries to his legendary journey to the Moon. His impact continues to reverberate within the masses and is retold consistently. Let’s learn more about the impact of Neil Armstrong on pop culture.
1. Neil Armstrong in TV Shows
Neil Armstrong voiced a few episodes of the legendary TV show, The Simpsons, and appeared in many other TV shows, directly or indirectly. Let’s take a look at some of them.
- Neil’s Parents on I’ve Got a Secret (1952-1967)
I’ve Got a Secret was a panel game show in which four celebrity panelists tried to guess a contestant’s secret by asking questions that could only be answered as a “yes” or “no”. When Neil got accepted into NASA, his parents went to film the popular show.
The show’s most iconic moment was when the host, Host Garry Moore, asked a question, “Now, how would you feel, Mrs. Armstrong, if it turned out – of course, nobody knows – but if it turns out that your son is the first man to land on the moon? What, how do, how would you feel?”, to which Neil’s mother replied, “Well, guess I’d just say god bless him and I wish him the best of all good luck.” The fact that this question was asked seven years before Armstrong landed on the moon makes it nothing less than a jaw-opening coincidence.
- NASA: Triumph and Tragedy (2009)
It is a documentary series providing the audience with a glimpse of an astronaut’s view of spaceflight. A lot of astronauts’ stories were covered in the series. It has two episodes, titled “One Giant Leap” and “One Small Step”. The first one shows how Neil and the pilot Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon and after returning to Earth, they were welcomed by a giant party from the whole planet. The latter one covers how the Challenger and Columbia tragedies closed all the doors for the space shuttles.
- First Flights with Neil Armstrong (1991)
First Flights with Neil Armstrong was an aviation history documentary series that ran for three seasons. It was hosted by none other than, Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the moon.
The series covered the technological history of aviation, from gliders and early balloons through war times and mass commercial aviation to the iconic experimental hypersonic flight at the edge of space. Neil interviewed multiple aerospace engineers and pilots. Vintage aircraft and archival footage were used to recreate the magic of historic takeoffs.
- When We Left Earth: The NASA Missions (2008)
It is a Discovery Channel HD documentary miniseries with six episodes, created in association with NASA. The documentary covered everything about American human spaceflight, from the first Mercury (first human spaceflight program) flights and the Gemini program (second human spaceflight program) to the Apollo program including its Moon missions and landings and Space Shuttle missions, and the construction of the International Space Station.
The third episode of the show, titled “Landing the Eagle” showed the beginning of the Apollo program, covering rocket engine testing, the first human footsteps on the lunar surface, and much more. All of the Apollo 8 astronauts appeared in the episode, including Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong. The episode also featured Commander Jim McDivitt of Apollo 9, Apollo 10 astronauts Gene Cernan and John Young, flight controllers Charlie Duke and Bruce McCandless II, and flight director Gene Kranz.
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2. Neil Armstrong in Movies
The Apollo mission also made it to the big screen in no time. Tons of space movies featured Neil Armstrong. Some of them are listed below.
- Apollo 11 (2019)
The legendary movie, Apollo 11, covers the whole moon-landing Apollo 11 mission led by astronaut Neil Armstrong and pilots Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. Neil played his role, and the movie covers never-before-seen footage and audio recordings that reveal the inner workings of NASA’s historic mission as Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins embark on their journey to land on the Moon. The film won three Primetime Emmys and received tons of other awards.
- First Man (2018)
It is an American biographical drama film based on the 2005 book First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong by James R. Hansen. Ryan Gosling played the character of Neil Armstrong, and the film is about the years leading up to the Apollo 11 mission and the ultimate Moon landing in 1969. First Man bagged many awards, including the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score and Satellite Award for Best Original Score.
- Armstrong (2019)
Armstrong is a dramatic and emotional life story of Neil Armstrong, from his early childhood in Ohio to his first moment on the Moon and beyond. The film consists of interviews and archival footage of Armstrong that highlight his near-death experiences as a fighter pilot and test pilot and the successful Apollo 11 mission.
Other films in which Neil Armstrong appeared are as follows.
- One Small Step for Man (2004)
- First Man on the Moon (2012)
- In the Shadow of the Moon (2007)
- Moonshot (2009)
- Moonwalk One (1971)
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3. Neil Armstrong in Books
Neil was not only himself a writer but also used as the main subject by many writers. Some books featuring the legend and his iconic mission are as follows.
- First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong by James R.Hansen (2005)
- Neil Armstrong: A Life of Flight by Jay Barbree (2014)
- I am Neil Armstrong by Bradz Meltzer (2018)
- Who was Armstrong by Roberta Edwards (2008)
- The Story of Neil Armstrong: A Biography Book for New Readers by Sarah L. Thomson (2020)
- One Giant Leap: The Story of Neil Armstrong by Don Brown (1998)
- Neil Armstrong: Young Pilot by Montrew Dunham (1996)
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4. Acknowledgments and Monuments
The U.S.A. acknowledged Neil’s success in the Apollo 11 mission by announcing July 21, 1969, as a national day of celebration. All but essential and emergency employees were allowed a paid day off from work in both the private and government sectors.
- A replica of a footprint left by Armstrong on the moon is located at Tranquillity Park in Houston, Texas.
- In Namibia, the “Apollo 11 Cave” is named after the successful return of the Apollo 11 astronauts and spaceship to the Earth.
Neil Armstrong – the Legendary Moon Lander
Neil Armstrong will always be remembered as a pioneer of the science and art of flight and a man who represented the best of humanity. He changed the course of history by landing humans on another celestial body and returning them safely to the Earth. Because of his zeal, modesty, and vigor to achieve anything, Armstrong made people believe that humans are truly capable of doing extraordinary things.