Neil Armstrong made history 50 years ago when he stepped off the Apollo 11 lunar module and onto the surface of the moon — the first human to set foot on the earth’s natural satellite. The brave astronaut, who would have been 89 years old today, was integral to that “giant leap for mankind” that inspired millions of people around the world to dream, learn and explore, and enriched our understandings of science and outer space. Today, we join the world in celebrating Armstrong’s legacy and contributions to our shared human culture.

Also vital to that first spacewalk — and to the 11 space explorers who have followed Armstrong in walking on the moon — were petrochemicals, which serve as vital building-blocks for materials in astronauts’ suits, enabling them to survive and maneuver in the harsh conditions of space. Learn more in the following video about how these ingredients have been critical to scientific discovery:

What was it like to watch Neil Armstrong walk on the moon back in 1969? Here’s Jim Cooper, AFPM’s senior petrochemical advisor, on how “a kid with an inquiring and impressionable mind” experienced the historic events.