Mike Massimino Astronaut

Mike Massimino on ‘First Man’ and His Hero Neil Armstrong

Oct 29, 2018 - 2:00pm

The film First Man debuted in theaters this month, giving viewers an in-depth look into the incredible journey of Neil Armstrong and NASA’s mission to put a man on the moon. We sat down with our Senior Advisor for Space Programs and former NASA astronaut, Mike Massimino, to discuss the movie and the life of his hero and friend, Neil Armstrong.


“Neil Armstrong was my boyhood hero, and watching him walk on the moon when I was six inspired me to become an astronaut. I met him during my first week as an astronaut. I asked him how he came up with his famous line when he set foot on the moon: “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” I figured that he got the idea from a publicist or maybe even his wife. He said he came up with it right after they landed on the moon. He felt he had no reason to say anything before that very moment. He taught me a valuable lesson: focus on your job first and then after you’ve found success, use that to inspire others.”

“First Man captured the personality and soul of Neil Armstrong. He never sought the spotlight, he loved to fly, and he was able to concentrate on his complex job better than any astronaut in history. Neil Armstrong did the technical part of his job better than anyone, and that is why I think he was chosen to be the first man to walk on the moon. The movie is a great snapshot of what this amazing man was like as well as the wonder associated with leaving our planet and arriving on another place for the first time.”

“The film reminded me of the seriousness of the job I once had—the stress, responsibility, passion, and sense of mission associated with spaceflight. The flying and space scenes brought back a lot of memories for me. The look and feel, the wonder and the lighting were all right on. It gave me chills.”

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A man and woman read an exhibit panel on Intrepid's flight deck while their child points at the propeller of an aircraft.

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