Accomplishments and Records

One Giant Leak for Mankind


Neil Armstrong may have been the first man to go to the moon, but it was Buzz Aldrin who has the honor of being the first man to go on the moon. Yes, history may hold a special place for Armstrong’s heroism in being the first person to set foot on the lunar surface, but no one can rob Aldrin of his rightful place for being the first make footprints on the moon with urine-soaked feet.

The astronauts’ space suits were specially designed to allow the men to urinate without having to remove the suits. They were designed with a urine collection device that would allow the astronaut to urinate into a container located within the suit itself. Once safely back aboard the spacecraft, the urine could be conveniently discarded. Between the six Apollo missions that put men on the moon, there are 96 bags of human waste that have been left behind on the lunar surface.

Buzz Aldrin would be the first to put the spacesuit’s waste collection system to the test. “Everyone has their firsts on the moon, and that one hasn’t been disputed by anybody,” he said.

By peeing while on the moon, he was also the first to demonstrate a design flaw in the waste collection system. Teasel Muir-Harmony, curator of the National Air and Space Museum’s Space History Department, said, “What’s unfortunate is that when he landed the lunar module, he landed so softly that the legs, which were designed to compress, didn’t.” Consequently, what was supposed to be a small step from the module to the surface was more of a giant leap. In the jolt of the impact, Aldrin’s urine collection device broke. “So instead of going where it was supposed to, the liquid ended up collecting in one of his boots,” she says. “When he walked around the lunar surface he was kind of sloshing around.”

It can thus be faithfully recorded that Buzz Aldrin boldly went where no man had gone before. It was one small step for man and one giant leak for mankind. Aldrin not only got to be on the moon, but he also got to pee on the moon. We could go on with a veritable flood of observations.

On a more reverential note, Aldrin also holds the distinction of being the first person to observe Communion on the moon. Shortly after the lunar lander touched down, the astronauts had some downtime before disembarking. Aldrin prepared for this critical moment in time by observing something that is timeless. As an elder at Webster Presbyterian Church, he received special permission to take bread and wine with him to space and give himself Communion.

Read more fun facts about astronauts.

Read more fun facts about astronomy.


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