TIME

First Man tells the story of a hero you thought you knew

The moon and the home pulled Apollo astronauts in opposite directions. Armstrong (Gosling), with his wife and son in their Houston kitchen, suffered that more than most

NASA DIDN’T TALK MUCH ABOUT THE DAY IT nearly killed Neil Armstrong—and that was smart. It was just over a year before Armstrong was set to become the first man on the moon, in command of Apollo 11, and while he hadn’t been officially tapped for the gig yet, he was on the short list and everyone knew it. Worse, NASA already had recent blood on its hands, after the fire in the Apollo 1 spacecraft that killed three astronauts just the year before.

So things were kept relatively quiet on the May day in 1968, when Armstrong was flying a training mission in the Lunar Landing Research Vehicle (LLRV)—a four-legged machine about the size of a small truck meant to simulate the actual lunar module—and just 200 ft. aboveground, it started to spin out of control. Armstrong fought to stabilize it, had no luck and with two seconds to go before the LLRV crashed, he ejected, blasted away and descended by parachute—passing directly through the oily plume of black smoke the lander produced when it smashed into the Texas scrub.

As other Apollo astronauts recall it, Armstrong was back at his desk within the hour, wordlessly working on the accident report. As the scene is grippingly depicted in the new Armstrong biopic First Man—based on the book by James R. Hansen and directed by

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from TIME

TIME2 min read
Will A Law Permitting Player Payments Ruin College Sports?
ON SEPT. 30, AFTER CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR Gavin Newsom signed into law SB 206—a bill that allows the state’s college athletes to profit from their names, images and likenesses and to sign endorsement deals despite NCAA rules forbidding them—state lawmak
TIME2 min read
Love Fleabag? Meet Miri
EVEN BEFORE IT DOMINATED THE Emmys, Fleabag was bound to loom large over Showtime’s Back to Life. Aside from sharing a pair of executive producers, Harry and Jack Williams, both British imports cast their creator-stars as women who’ve been deemed ter
TIME2 min readPolitics
If Only The Japan–South Korea Trade War Were About Trade
THE U.S.-CHINA trade war is inflicting the most damage to the global economy, but it’s the trade spat between Japan and South Korea that signals the larger troubles ahead for the world. South Korea’s Supreme Court ruled in late 2018 that a number of