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Moon landing shock: NASA astronaut reveals why he’s changed view on Apollo 11 | Science | News

On July 20, 1969, NASA completed the seemingly impossible Apollo 11 mission to put the first two men – Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin – on the Moon. Armstrong made history, jumping off the lunar lander Eagle and delivering his legendary “one small step” speech to the millions of anxious people watching back on Earth. The late astronaut became an overnight sensation after burying the US flag into the lunar surface and bringing an end to the Space Race with the Soviet Union.

Following his return to Earth, Armstrong became notorious for avoiding the limelight, giving only a few rare interviews.

Many have suggested this is why he was chosen to be the first man on the Moon, over Aldrin, who has been quite the opposite over the last 50 years.

However, fellow NASA employee Mike Massimino revealed during a recent episode of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s StarTalk why that’s not the case.

He said last month: “When I first met Neil, he got up in front of us and it was like we’re meeting our hero.

Former NASA astronaut Mike Massimino

Former NASA astronaut Mike Massimino (Image: GETTY)

Apollo 11 crew before Moon landing

Apollo 11 crew before Moon landing (Image: GETTY)

In the last few years, I’ve changed my thinking of it

Mike Massimino

“He’s the man, right? But he gets up there and it seemed like he was almost painfully shy, like it was hard for him to talk.

“He didn’t mention the Moon at all, he talked about test flying and how important that is and how you have to be diligent about it and how much he loved it.

“After he was done we got to the questions and answers, then we asked him what it was like on the Moon.

“But up to that point, he was delivering his message and almost painfully shy, but he loved so much what he did that’s what he focused on.”

Dr Tyson pressed: “Do you think NASA chose him to be the first on the Moon because he does not seek publicity?

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Mike Massimino

Mike Massimino featured on a StarTalk podcast (Image: YOUTUBE)

“If they got some grandstanding ‘look at me, I’m on the Moon’ guy, he would be like ‘here’s my book about me being on the Moon’ and ‘here’s my talk show and interview’.

“Do you think they thought it through?”

Mr Massimino agreed momentarily, before adding why he changed his mind.

He explained: “I think that they picked someone humble.

“Actually, I used to think that maybe at first, but I think lately, in the last few years, I’ve changed my thinking of it.

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Mike Massimino

Mr Massimino said Armstrong was shy (Image: YOUTUBE)

Dr Tyson pressed Mr Massimino on the Apollo 11 decisions

Dr Tyson pressed Mr Massimino on the Apollo 11 decisions (Image: YOUTUBE)

“Because I think that is almost too much thinking.

“I think really what they saw was this was the right man to land on the Moon.”

Mr Massimino rounded off his point for viewers, explaining NASA picked the best man for the job.

He continued: “Whether or not he was gregarious, whether or not he was shy, whatever those personality traits were.

“He was the right man because he understood what was happening, he was going to focus on that job 100 percent, not be distracted.

“Maybe that has partly to do with the fame-seeking, but I think really he was chosen not for that, for the personality part of it, but because he was the right man to do that job.”

Armstrong became a legend for his actions

Armstrong became a legend for his actions (Image: GETTY)

Moon landing timeline

Moon landing timeline (Image: DX/GETTY)

In 2009, Mr Massimino made his own claim to space fame after becoming the first man to tweet from the cosmos.

He revealed during the same episode how he took inspiration from Armstrong.

He continued: “So, for my tweet I did the same approach, I said ‘I’m not going to worry about this first tweet, we have to launch into space, we have to get there alive and successfully’.

“This was a mistake. So I get there and it’s alright, we’re alive, the computers are up and running on day one, so I need to come up with something.

“So what I tweeted was: ‘Launch was awesome, the adventure of a lifetime has begun, I’m feeling great and enjoying the view.’”

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