Twelve men walked with a heavenly light to give hope to the human race, but then Congress started cutting the space budget. Six more heroes became became the greatest wingmen of all time, designated drivers of destiny letting their friends make the ultimate touchdown.
You might think you don’t need to do anything else cool when you’ve walked on the Moon,* and that attitude is why you haven’t done it. These are people who excelled over the Earth’s gravity, never mind other people’s expectations, and we’ve got three more reasons they’re still the coolest. Because while the rest of the world might already be back to Honey Boo Boo after a few moments of remembering Mr Armstrong, this site is still about real men.
*If Idaho gets a capital letter, so does the Moon.
1. Buzz Aldrin Beats Down An Idiot
Bart Sibrel is a conspiracy theorist, which means he pits his mental problems against the entire world and he has us outnumbered. His hobby is stalking astronauts, which would ideally make him an eccentric billionaire playing the most dangerous game in the world (and above it), but actually looks a tube of sentient cookie dough discovered a form of loser-magnetism which attracts him to his opposite: worthwhile people.
Astronauts are pretty good at avoiding him, because they’ve been trained to use intelligence to navigate and that alone will keep you a hundred meters from Bart Sibrel at all times. Which is why Bart set up a fake production meeting about a show for educating children, drawing Buzz Aldrin in with ridiculous promises like “making people smarter” and “improving the world.” Those are exact opposites of Bart’s real mission. Lying about teaching children to harass an old man: even without the astronaut factor, that’s the sort of thing where after you die, Satan makes you go door-to-door to introduce yourself to all the murderers on the block.
Bart sprang as Buzz left the hotel. You can skip ahead to the action at 1:30, but the punch is much more satisfying when marinated in the ninety seconds of pure @$$#0!% leading up to it.
Just a GREAT #*(%!^& punch
Buzz made every effort to go peacefully go on his way, but when Bart made it clear that he’d have to be interacted with, Buzz chose the only way a sane person would do that. Harrassing a highly trained member of the Air Force works out exactly like you’d expect. Sure, the fact Buzz is 34 years older should have meant he lost, but Bart has spent much longer than three decades remaining useless at everything.
Bart immediately attempted to press charges, handing his own tape of the encounter over to California police. Which only proves his Moon conspiracist special skill of “Being extremely bad at interpreting video evidence.” Police carefully studied the video record of a lunatic harassing a septuagenarian national hero and strangely failed to whip out handcuffs. The way Bart was back to yelling at his camera within a second of the strike also proves he wasn’t hurt. Or maybe the signals just hadn’t penetrated his thick skull yet. Which makes sense: we landed on the Moon 43 years ago, and that hasn’t gotten through either.
2. The Fastest Humans Ever
John Young would have been G.I. Joe’s space man, except he knew how to fly four kinds of spaceship and was therefore overqualified for the Joe’s strict “one vehicle per pilot” job creation program. He flew the first Gemini program, the first Apollo to make it to the Moon (but not to the surface), and commanded first Space Shuttle mission. He also held the lunar land speed record in the Moon rover. So the next time an @$$#0!% internet commenter shouts “FIRST!”, use that to remember all the things Young did first and you’ll feel better about the human race.
His lunar land speed record was taken by Eugene Cernan, who also closed the book on this moon game by being the last to leave, on Apollo 17. Cernan broke through Young’s lunar land speed record, and in final and utter proof that Wikipedia is maintained by obsessive pedants this record is listed as “unofficial,” then footnoted with the statement that no one has announced any challenge to this record. Just when you thought the fact we haven’t gone back to the Moon couldn’t get any more pathetic.
They joined forces with Thomas Stafford, who personally did more to end the Cold War than Rocky, commanding the Apollo-Soyuz docking where the world’s superpowers decided that space was more fun than war, and proved that a good hard dock is a great way to make up after a fight. All three remain the fastest humans ever to live, with Apollo 10 setting the record for the fastest man-made vehicle of any kind, anywhere, ever, at 39,897 km/h on their return to Earth. That’s eleven kilometers per second, mach 32, or 892 Usain Bolts. And we simply won’t beat that until we get back out there.
3. James Irwin is Too Busy for a Heart Attack
The Apollo 15 surface crew worked without interruption for 23 hours, because that’s what you do when you’re alive for decades but only have three days on the goddamned Moon. Finding things like the Genesis Rock are slightly more important than sleep. (That’s not science fiction, that’s something they actually brought back.) Mission Control noticed that while blasting off from the Moon’s surface, James Irwin’s heart was going bigeminic, skipping alternate beats and then doubling up on the others. When directly questioned James admitted to a “strange heart sensation,” but presumably hadn’t felt it worth mentioning before, which is why they make the astronauts wear all those medical monitors. One of these guys could lose an arm in an airlock, and he’d only bother to mention that it would take him twice as long to make control adjustments from now on.
Flight surgeon Charles Berry described it less as “strange” and more as “he’d have him in an intensive care unit being treated for a heart attack,” but that it was okay to continue because the spaceship was even better. Seriously. The atmosphere was 100% oxygen, the whole thing was zero-g, and the command module was currently kicking the shit out an ambulance’s top speed as it raced back to Earth. They also figured that if James hadn’t thought an incipient heart failure worth mentioning, they wouldn’t bother telling him about it either.
He had a full heart attack a few months after landing, which we like to think was him making sure the job was finished before taking time off for something so minor. He survived a further twenty years, and just in case people thought he’d take it easy he mounted expeditions to find Noah’s Ark. Possibly because targets that actually existed now felt too easy.
He also chronicled some non-lunar adventures in Three More Landings which Made Neil Armstrong the Ultimate Man, and punched boredom in the face when he teamed up with The Adventurists!