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:
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