Surprising Facts You Didn’t Know About the Apollo 11 Moon Landing


Written by:

Oh boy, it’s been a while since we’ve had a proper moon landing. The last American moon landing dates back to the Apollo 17 expedition in December 1972, but as of February 22, 2024, the United States is back on the moon. Intuitive Machines successfully landed the Odysseus, a private lander, and it’s absolutely something to get excited about. 

While Odysseus gets fully acquainted with its new home, let’s take a look at some of the more surprising facts you probably didn’t know about the Apollo 11 moon landing. Things can get weird very quickly when you take the conversation to outer space.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

1. The American Flag Placed on the Moon Was Manufactured by Sears

If someone were to ask you what company was behind the creation of the storied American flag placed on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission, you wouldn’t be alone if your mind drew a blank. You also definitely wouldn’t be alone if one of your last guesses was Sears. And yet, Sears was responsible for manufacturing the American flag that was used for the United States’ first moon landing. However, NASA was extremely keen on that information not being shared with the public at the time. 

This is because of Tang. It turns out that the powder-based orange drink from General Foods gained much of its celebrity status due to Mercury astronaut John Glenn putting on a show with various eating experiments while orbiting Earth aboard Friendship 7. Astronauts actually ended up bringing Tang on board their space flights from 1965 to 1975. By the time Apollo 11 was ready for takeoff, NASA wasn’t willing to provide more free advertising to another company.

Image Credit: Science Photo Library / Creative Commons.

2. Astronauts Trained for Microgravity by Walking Sideways

When it comes to training for an environment that you’ve never encountered during your time on earth, you’ve got to be inventive. So it’s no surprise that during the 1960s, NASA was pulling out all the stops. They’d have astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin practice collecting samples of moon dirt on artificial, indoor moonscapes. 

Neil Armstrong also practiced the take off and landing process in the Lunar Landing Training Vehicle based in Houston. Then, to simulate the imagined experience of walking in the moon’s significantly lower-gravity atmosphere, Armstrong and Aldrin were suspended sideways, held up by straps, and walked along a tilted wall. Sounds like a fun, albeit disorienting day on the job. Then again, things could only go up from there.

Image Credit: Wikipedia.

3. Your Smartphone Is More Advanced Than the Apollo Guidance Computer Systems

Smartphones today can pretty much do it all (which is kind of unsettling). The Apollo Guidance Computer systems that were responsible for powering Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins to the moon and back in July 1969 were Stone Age-level rudimentary compared to the phones we have now. This article from the Houston Chronicle provides a more thorough breakdown on how a Samsung Galaxy S10 Smartphone with 8GB of memory would seem like advanced alien technology if compared to an Apollo 11 computer.

Image Credit:

4. Buzz Aldrin Took Holy Communion on the Moon

When Apollo 11’s Eagle lunar module made its successful landing on July 20, 1969, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin had some time to kill before it was time to explore. So Aldrin decided to check a rather notable item off his bucket list, and took part in the first ever Christian sacrament to ever be performed on the moon. Must’ve been quite the thrill.

Image Credit: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images.

5. Scientists Expressed Genuine Concerns Over Space Germs Plaguing Earth

This is right out of one of those skin-crawling, space-themed Sci-Fi movies. After astronauts Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins returned from their successful moon landing, they were forced into a planetary protection quarantine. The three were held there from July 24, 1969, until August 10, 1969. Just imagine what kind of apocalyptic chaos would’ve erupted if something went south during that period of time.

Image Credit: NASA.

6. Moon Dirt Is Stinky

Naturally, teams of scientists — along with the astronauts themselves — were endlessly curious about what the moon’s surface would be like during the infamous Apollo 11 moon landing mission. What if it was like one big, unconquerable sand trap? 

As it turns out, after all the hypothesizing, the biggest curveball was that the moon had its very own stink. Apparently moon soil is remarkably clingy and hard to brush off. When astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin made their return to the lunar module and re-pressurized it, the remaining moon dirt on their suits emitted a potent “aroma.” The closest smell to compare it to back on Earth is allegedly gunpowder. I guess it would’ve been even trippier if it was floral or smelled like chocolate chip cookies in an oven or something.

Image Credit: NASA.

7. Roughly 650 Million People Watched the Moon Landing on Television

Of all the surprising facts that we could imagine when thinking about the moon landing, it’s not too surprising that an estimated 650 million people across the world wanted to watch it. You can catch up on your TV shows another day. 

Image Credit: NASA.

8. The Soviets Fully Attempted To Hush Their Moon Landing Efforts

Talk about being a sore loser. The Soviet Union was heavily invested in completing a successful moon landing mission alongside the United States. When they ended up losing the undeclared race, the Soviets proceeded to push their attempt completely into the void. Journalist Yaroslav Golovanov, of the Soviet newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda, wrote, “secrecy was necessary so that no one would overtake us. But later, when they did overtake us, we had to maintain secrecy so that no one knew that we have been overtaken.” Ah yes, more power politics.

Image Credit: Mampfred / iStock.

More from MediaFeed

11 Rookie Mistakes Tourists Make When Visiting America

Like MediaFeed’s content? Be sure to follow us.

Image Credit: maximkabb.