Fun facts

10 out-of-this-world facts about the moon landing

Over 50 years ago, three men on the Apollo 11 mission landed on the moon – for the first time in history! It was a momentous event that caught the attention of the world. Here are some amazing facts about the space race and the moon landing. 

Puffin team
An illustration of astronaut Neil Armstrong in his space suit
Illustration: Freda Chiu / The Extraordinary Life of Neil Armstrong

1. The moon is 238,855 miles away from Earth. Even whizzing through space at super-high speed, it takes more than three days to get there.

2. Out in space, away from Earth, there is no gravity holding astronauts down, so they float around in their spaceships. Sometimes called zero-g.

3. The lunar module, Eagle, was so small that there was no room for seats. While Eagle dropped 60 miles to the moon’s surface, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin had to stand up.

4. The landing site that Apollo 11 crew had chosen was an area called the Sea of Tranquillity, which looked smooth and safe for landing. This isn’t a sea as we know it. It’s a lunar mare – a large plain formed long ago by a volcanic eruption.

5. When Neil Armstrong landed the lunar module, there were only 30 seconds of fuel left. Yikes!

An illustration of Apollo 11
Illustration: Freda Chiu / The Extraordinary Life of Neil Armstrong

6. Neil Armstrong was supposed to say ‘That’s one small step for a man’, but he forgot to say ‘a’. Instead, he said the now-famous words, ‘One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind’.

7. Gravity on the moon is only one-sixth as strong as gravity on Earth. If you jumped on the moon, you’d go six times higher. Wow!

8. While Neil Armstrong may have been the first man to set foot on the moon, Buzz Aldrin was the first man to go to the toilet there, using a special tube in his spacesuit!

An illustration of astronaut Neil Armstrong
Illustration: Freda Chiu / The Extraordinary Life of Neil Armstrong

9. An amazing woman called Katherine Johnson carried out the calculations that made the mission to the moon possible and got the astronauts home again. Katherine’s incredible achievement made it possible for other women and people of colour to follow in her footsteps, breaking down barriers of race and gender.

10. While he was still working for NASA after returning from the moon, Neil Armstrong helped invent computer navigation technology called ‘fly-by-wire’, which is still used in spacecraft and aeroplanes today.

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