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"“That's one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind."

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Author Topic: "“That's one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind."  (Read 58 times)
« on: August 26, 2012, 01:45:35 pm »


 Tributes are being paid to Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, following his death, aged 82.

SAD DAY FOR MANKIND: Neil Armstrong, the commander of Apollo 11 and the first man to step on the moon, has died, aged 82.

Armstrong underwent a heart-bypass surgery earlier this month, just two days after his birthday on August 5, to relieve blocked coronary arteries.

His family announced his death today (local time).

As commander of the Apollo 11 mission, Armstrong became the first human to set foot on the moon on July 20, 1969. As he stepped on the dusty surface, Armstrong said: "“That's one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind."

Those words endure as one of the best known quotes in the English language.

Buzz Aldrin, his crew-mate on the Apollo 11 mission and the second man on the moon paid tribute to Armstrong today via Twitter.

"On behalf of the Aldrin family we extend our deepest condolences to Carol & the entire Armstrong family on Neil's passing. He will be missed."

US President Barack Obama also praised Armstrong following news of his death.

"Neil was among the greatest of American heroes - not just of his time, but of all time. When he and his fellow crew members lifted off aboard Apollo 11 in 1969, they carried with them the aspirations of an entire nation."

Michael Collins, who flew to the moon with Armstrong and served as the command module pilot said: ''He was the best, and I will miss him terribly.''

NASA chief Charles Bolden recalled Armstrong's grace and humility in a statement on Saturday. ''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."


Neil Alden Armstrong was 38 years old at the time of the landing and even though he had fulfilled one of mankind's quests that had loomed for centuries and placed him at the pinnacle of human achievement, he did not revel in his accomplishment.

He even seemed frustrated by the acclaim it brought.

"I guess we all like to be recognized not for one piece of fireworks but for the ledger of our daily work," Armstrong said in an interview on CBS's "60 Minutes" program in 2005.

He once was asked how he felt knowing his footprints would likely stay on the moon's surface for thousands of years. "I kind of hope that somebody goes up there one of these days and cleans them up," he said.

James Hansen, author of "First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong," told CBS: "All of the attention that ... the public put on stepping down that ladder onto the surface itself, Neil never could really understand why there was so much focus on that."

The Apollo 11 moon mission turned out to be Armstrong's last space flight. The next year he was appointed to a desk job, being named NASA's deputy associate administrator for aeronautics in the office of advanced research and technology.

Armstrong's post-NASA life was a very private one. He took no major role in ceremonies marking the 25th anniversary of the moon landing. "He's a recluse's recluse," said Dave Garrett, a former NASA spokesman.

"Howard Hughes had nothing on him," he said, speaking of the reclusive aviator.

Hansen said stories of Armstrong dreaming of space exploration as a boy were apocryphal, although he was long dedicated to flight. "His life was about flying. His life was about piloting," Hansen said.

He left NASA a year after Apollo 11 to become a professor of engineering at the University of Cincinnati.

The former astronaut lived in the Cincinnati area with his wife, Carol.

"We are heartbroken to share the news that Neil Armstrong has passed away following complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures," the family said in a statement. "Neil was our loving husband, father, grandfather, brother and friend.

Facts about former US astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, who has died at the age of 82:

* Armstrong grew up in Ohio with a strong interest in flight and earned his pilot's license while still a boy.

* After flying combat missions during the Korean War, he became a test pilot and joined NASA's astronaut program in 1962.

* As he stepped on the moon's dusty surface, Armstrong said: "“That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind."

* Armstrong's pulse was measured at 150 beats per minute as he guided the lunar lander to the moon's surface, NASA said. Asked about his experience on the moon, he told CBS: "It's an interesting place to be. I recommend it."

* A crater on the moon is named for Armstrong. It is located about 30 miles (48 km) from the site of the landing.

* Armstrong took a NASA desk job after the Apollo 11 mission, becoming the deputy associate administrator for aeronautics in the office of advanced research and technology. A year later he became a professor of engineering at the University of Cincinnati.

* In 2005 Armstrong was upset to learn that his barber had sold clippings of his hair to a collector for $US3000. The man who bought the hair refused to return it, saying he was adding it to his collection of locks from Abraham Lincoln, Napoleon, Marilyn Monroe, Albert Einstein and others.

* Despite his taciturn nature, Armstrong once appeared in a television commercial for the US automaker Chrysler. He said he made the ad because of Chrysler's engineering history and his desire to help the company out of financial troubles.

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« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2012, 07:45:50 pm »

from The Telegraph....

Neil Armstrong: one giant leap into the dark

Putting a man on the Moon in 1969 was a formidable achievement,
but did Neil Armstrong make his small step on to the surface
50 years too early, asks Michael Hanlon.

By MICHAEL HANLON | 7:43AM BST - Monday, 27 August 2012

EARTHRISE: The Earth seen from the Moon. — Photo: NASA.
EARTHRISE: The Earth seen from the Moon. — Photo: NASA.

I WAS one of the 600 million people who watched Neil Armstrong’s Small Step on to the Sea of Tranquility live on tiny black and white televisions. Dragged out of bed in the early hours on July 21 1969, I only vaguely understood what was happening. I was four and a half.

But I knew that a man on the Moon was a big deal. Back then, everyone assumed this was indeed a giant leap into the future, the beginning of a space age not for the chosen few but for us all. By the time I was at school, we all took it for granted that we would be following in Armstrong’s footsteps when we grew up.

We collected the Apollo badges and, later, glued together Airfix models of the magnificent spacecraft, towering machines that looked more like cathedrals than vehicles.

The future beckoned, as shiny-white as those sundrenched rockets on their Florida launchpads. I was one of the millions back then who fell in love with space and it is partly thanks to Neil Armstrong and fellow crew member Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin that I write books about it and have tried to meet as many of the Moonwalkers as I can. But sadly, that dream that I and others would be able to follow in their footsteps one day was not to be.

They are all old men, now, the Moonwalkers, and with the death of Armstrong there are just eight humans left alive who have walked on the surface of another world. When they are gone, we will have lost the last living links with what British space historian Dr David Harland has called “a piece of the 21st century transported into the 1960s”.

As the Apollo programme recedes into history, the more unreal it seems. Back in 1961, just 57 years after Wilbur and Orville Wright first took to the air in their string-and-canvas contraptions, President John F Kennedy pledged to put an American on the Moon and bring him home again before 1970. Only one person, the Russian Yuri Gagarin, had flown in space. America’s manned space programme, Mercury, was embryonic and the US had to rely on the former-Nazi rocketeer Wernher von Braun to telescope what should have realistically taken 40 years into less than a decade.

For Apollo to succeed, a whole technology had to be created from scratch. This meant not just firing space capsules into space and splashing them down again, but assembling large complex craft in orbit, keeping humans alive in the radiation-drenched vacuum of outer space for days at a time and somehow navigating across a quarter of a million miles of space with pinpoint accuracy.

It meant not just building a rocket capable of propelling 120 tons of material into orbit (the mighty Saturn V) but developing computers powerful enough and small enough to fit into a capsule. It is a myth that Apollo gave us Teflon, but without that programme we would have had to wait a lot longer for the computer revolution to arrive (the Apollo Guidance Computer was the direct ancestor of your laptop or iPhone).

But the technology alone would have been nothing without finding a new breed of heroes to ride in and operate these magnificent machines. America’s astronauts defied easy categorisation. Armstrong himself was two parts warrior and hyper-fit macho hero to one part pensive engineering and aeronautics-obsessed geek.

I have been privileged to meet four of the Moonwalkers. They are indeed men apart. All brilliant, some prickly. Armstrong was usually described as a “recluse”, but he was not; this being a word used by journalists to mean “does not give interviews”. One got the impression that it was all too much, the sheer weight of expectation upon the shoulders of the first Moonwalker more than any human could handle.

The second man on the Moon, Buzz Aldrin, like most astronauts preferred then and now to talk about flying and the mathematics of celestial navigation than about the glory. Aldrin, an intense, extraordinarily intelligent man, told me that one of the mistakes made by NASA was “that we never sent anyone who could really communicate what was happening”. As well as engineers and pilots, the Moonwalkers should have included writers, a poet perhaps, or an artist among the pilot-jocks. Then, along with the seismographs and geological samples, the analysis of the lunar soil and measurements of craters and mountains, we would have heard how the Moon smells of gunpowder and tastes of burnt sulphur; of how, after taking their bulky suits off in the module, moon dust and grit would get into every crack and crevice on the body, of the cold and the terror, and exactly what it is like to gaze up at the Earth, a blue and green orb that from the Moon appears four times the size that the Moon does from our world.

And the Moon — the reality of it — has remained a missed opportunity for art and literature. Even as Armstrong, Aldrin and the Command Module pilot Mike Collins were on their way, the decision was being made to abort humanity’s giant leap into the cosmos.

Politics played a big part. Richard Nixon inherited Apollo from his hated rival JFK and, while he was happy to bathe in the reflected glory of Apollo 11, he saw no need to follow it up with the planned Moon bases and manned missions to Mars that von Braun insisted were possible by 1985. The last three Moon missions — Apollos 18, 19 and 20 — were quietly cancelled, a tragic decision as the rockets had been built and the money already spent. NASA’s grand vision shrank to a parochial horizon of space stations and shuttles, missions that were banal in their ambition and scope and in which the public soon lost interest.

Even during its pomp, when Apollo was hoovering up about 4 per cent of America’s GDP, polls showed a distinct lack of enthusiasm for manned spaceflight. For the enthusiasts, of which there were millions, Apollo was the most important adventure in the history of mankind. But for the rest — many more millions, it was as relevant as Dorothy’s journey to Oz.

So perhaps the greatest irony of Apollo was that its very success ended human expansion into space. Armstrong’s triumph was not the beginning of something new; it was, in fact, the beginning of the end. By meeting JFK’s absurd, vainglorious deadline, NASA won the space race, but the thing about races is that when they are won, they are over. It is a myth that America turned its back on space because of the cost; America’s wars consume far more cash than even Apollo did. There has always been the money — what has been lacking since JFK made his pledge has been vision and will.

A further irony is that while enthusiasm for real space exploration may have been limited, America’s — and the rest of the world’s — enthusiasm for fake space exploration has, since the Apollo years, boomed. The US spends far more money playing computer games and watching movies about pretend aliens and astronauts than it does on NASA. The most successful films ever made — Avatar, Star Wars, ET and the rest – have been about aliens and imagined futures in space. Here in Britain the BBC has proclaimed that Dr Who, a science fiction TV series that began in the Apollo era, may go on for ever.

My belief is that Apollo was simply a programme out of its time, a dead-end simply because it came 50, maybe even 100 years too early. We went to the Moon and simply didn’t know what to do next, just as the Vikings discovered America half a millennium before they should. In a recent, rare interview, Armstrong bemoaned the lack of direction at NASA, and he was right. Today, it is perhaps unsurprising that so many people believe he never actually went to the Moon or stepped on its surface, that the landing was brilliantly faked.

We are still exploring space, of course, but by proxy, using machines such as the brilliant Curiosity rover that landed on Mars last week. NASA’s hopes of getting a man on Mars and beyond are doomed and it is probably best for now to leave it to the robots, to search for life in the cosmos and leave the giant leaps to someone else. Because someone — most likely the Chinese or privateers — will one day take up the Apollo mantle from Armstrong, Aldrin, Conrad, Bean, Shepard, Mitchell, Scott, Irwin, Young, Duke, Cernan and Schmitt. But for the surviving Moonmen, and maybe even for people of my generation, that day will probably come too late.

Michael Hanlon is the author of ‘The Real Mars’ and ‘The Worlds of Galileo’, which chronicle the robotic exploration of the Solar System.

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