One small step

Where were you on July 20 1969 when Neil Armstrong became the first man to step on the moon?

It would have been July 21 in New Zealand. I must have been at school and I think we were allowed to watch the news that night on our neighbours’ television but I have only very vague memories of the occasion.

I was too young to really appreciate the moment but that Apollo 11 trip was one of the major scientific achievements in my lifetime and the words of the astronaut are burned in my memory: ” . . .one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind“.

Armstrong, the man who said them died this morning, aged 82.

NASA’s obituary:

Neil Armstrong: 1930-2012
08.25.12
 

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Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon during the 1969 Apollo 11 mission, has died, following complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures. He was 82.

Armstrong’s words “That is one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind,” spoken on July 20, 1969, as he became the first person ever to step onto another planetary body, instantly became a part of history.

Those few words from the Sea of Tranquillity were the climactic fulfillment of the efforts and hopes of millions of people and the expenditure of billions of dollars. A plaque on one of the lander’s legs that concluded “We came in peace for all mankind,” further emphasized that Armstrong and fellow astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin were there as representatives of all humans.

Armstrong is survived by his wife, two sons, a stepson, a stepdaughter, 10 grandchildren, and a brother and sister.

“Neil Armstrong was a hero not just of his time, but of all time,” said President Barack Obama. “Thank you, Neil, for showing us the power of one small step.”

Armstrong’s family released the following statement on Saturday:

“Neil Armstrong was also a reluctant American hero who always believed he was just doing his job. He served his Nation proudly, as a navy fighter pilot, test pilot, and astronaut. He also found success back home in his native Ohio in business and academia, and became a community leader in Cincinnati.

While we mourn the loss of a very good man, we also celebrate his remarkable life and hope that it serves as an example to young people around the world to work hard to make their dreams come true, to be willing to explore and push the limits, and to selflessly serve a cause greater than themselves.
› Read Full Family Statement

The family will be providing further updates at www.neilarmstronginfo.com .

As long as there are history books, Neil Armstrong will be included in them, remembered for taking humankind’s first small step on a world beyond our own,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.

“Besides being one of America’s greatest explorers,” Bolden added, “Neil carried himself with a grace and humility that was an example to us all.”
› See Administrator Bolden’s Full Statement

Apollo 11 lunar module pilot and fellow moonwalker Buzz Aldrin on Armstrong’s passing: “I am very saddened to learn of the passing of Neil Armstrong today. Neil and I trained together as technical partners but were also good friends who will always be connected through our participation in the Apollo 11 mission. Whenever I look at the moon it reminds me of the moment over four decades ago when I realized that even though we were farther away from earth than two humans had ever been, we were not alone.”

Apollo 11 command module pilot Michael Collins said simply, “He was the best, and I will miss him terribly.”

“The passing of Neil Armstrong has shocked all of us at the Johnson Space Center,” said Center Director Michael Coats. The whole world knew Neil as the first man to step foot on the Moon, but to us he was a co-worker, a friend, and an outstanding spokesman for the Human Space Program. His quiet confidence and ability to perform under pressure set an example for all subsequent astronauts. Our role model will be missed.”

“Neil Armstrong was a very personal inspiration to all of us within the astronaut office,” said Bob Behnken, Chief of NASA’s Astronaut Office. “His historic step onto the Moon’s surface was the foundation for many of our personal dreams to become astronauts. The only thing that outshone his accomplishments was his humility about those accomplishments. We will miss him as a friend, mentor, explorer and ambassador for the American spirit of ingenuity.”

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