Neil Armstrong will never be gone

Neil Armstrong Talks About The First Moon Walk : Krulwich Wonders… :
[Via NPR]

Well, this doesn’t happen every day.

In yesterday’s post, I talked about Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s walk across the lunar surface back in 1969 and wondered, how come they walked such a modest distance? Less than a hundred yards from their lander?


It took me a couple of days to do this because what Neil Armstrong gave to the world needed a few days to reflect.

He was more than just a man who walked on the Moon. He was an incredibly interesting and amazing man whose time on Earth was also important.

This is from a few years ago but demonstrates the clarity the astronauts had for their missions. And one of the things that made Armstrong such an amazing pilot was that he was an aeronautical engineer and civilian when he joined the astronaut corps. He was our first civilian rocketed in space.

And it was a civilian that was the first human to land on the Moon, not a military officer.

Armstrong was known as a fantastic pilot and his ability to remain calm in the face of emergencies was well known.

Here we have him dealing with a test craft for the lunar module. He tried to save it and ejected a split second before it crashed.

Then he did this (from Air and Space Magazine – they have the crash from a different angle):

In his Armstrong biography First Man, author James Hansen recounts how astronaut Alan Bean saw Armstrong that afternoon at his desk in the astronaut office. Bean then heard colleagues in the hall talking about the accident, and asked them, “When did this happen?” About an hour ago, they replied. Bean returned to Armstrong and said, “I just heard the funniest story!” Armstrong said, “What?” “I heard that you bailed out of the LLTV an hour ago.” “Yeah, I did,” replied Armstrong. “I lost control and had to bail out of the darn thing.” “I can’t think of another person,” Bean recalls, “let alone another astronaut, who would have just gone back to his office after ejecting a fraction of a second before getting killed.”

He dealt with America’s first space emergency in Gemini 8 just as effectively, getting the capsule and crew safely back to Earth. He walked on the Moon, came back and lived a quietly important life.

Such as serving on the Challenger committee having to watch in gathering horror the callous nature management dealt with the lives of the men and women who were in the craft. He, Feynman and Ride were the three major voices of reasons on that committee. All three are now gone.

We are less without him around.