"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."
Whether you think that statement makes no sense or believe he was misheard or misquoted, no one can deny the iconography now associated with Neil Armstrong's famous first words as he stepped foot on the moon the night of July 20, 1969.
That's because, garbled speech transmission or not, Armstrong and fellow astronaut Buzz Aldrin made the most indelible kind of history that night, setting a record as the first humans on the Moon.
Now, one of the core principles of Guinness World Records achievements is that "firsts" are not acceptable. Since records are meant to be broken, awarding someone as the "first" to accomplish any type of achievement would render the whole system pointless.
But Guinness World Records makes occasional exceptions for the most exemplary, most iconic, most revolutionary achievements to deem them worthy of immortality and unbreakability. Safe to say that setting foot on the Moon ticks all of those boxes.
Since the dawn of time, man had looked up and wondered what that giant white orb in his nighttime sky was all about.
After millions of years of wonder, the few years of the Space Race took mankind's mere curiosity and accelerated this orbital age of discovery to unforeseen speed. The achievements of the rival American and Soviet space programs in such short increments would've seemed impossible even a decade prior.
In 1957, the USSR launched Sputnik I, the first satellite. They sent cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin into orbit in 1961, the first person to ever physically leave Earth. John Glenn became the first American to do so a year later, while cosmonaut Alexei Leonov made the first space walk in March 1965.
This technological and ideological arms race culminated with the Apollo 11 mission that placed Armstrong and Aldrin on the lunar surface. The trip from Florida to the moon took the Apollo crew just over 3 days. Once they arrived, Armstrong waited 6 hours before leaving his Eagle lunar module, with Aldrin following 20 minutes behind. Often forgotten is fellow crew member Michael Collins, who flew the Apollo's command module around the Moon while Armstrong and Aldrin got to explore the body.
The Armstrong/Aldrin landing ended the Space Race and ushered in a new age of space potential. Mars would certainly be next, or perhaps a human colony on the Moon. Would trips to space be the new Caribbean cruises?
Amazingly, since the initial duo, only 10 other men have ever stepped foot on the moon, underscoring how momentous a human achievement the initial landing proved to be. Since then, of course, space has proven a fertile playground for satellites and technology, resulting in GPS, weather tracking systems, cell phones, and more knowledge about our galaxy and universe than ever before known.
But never will there be a watershed moment like seeing man - man from Earth - escaping this planet with a destination set in the stars, reaching that destination, and claiming a new frontier for a previously handcuffed species.
It was estimated that more than one fifth of the human population at the time watched Armstrong and Aldrin land on the moon. None of them would ever forget it.