Sunday, August 26, 2012

Neil Armstrong - R.I.P.

The first man who walked on the moon died yesterday.

Top NASA officials and former astronauts praised the late Neil Armstrong on Saturday, saying he made a major mark on space exploration.

"When I think of Neil, I think of someone who for our country was dedicated enough to dare greatly," John Glenn, the the first American to orbit the Earth, said in an interview with the Associated Press. "He showed a skill and dedication that was just exemplary. I'll miss him not only for that but just as a close personal friend."

NASA administrator Charles Bolden added in a statement: "As long as there are history books, Neil Armstrong will be included in them. Besides being one of America's greatest explorers, Neil carried himself with grace and humility that was an example to us all."

Armstrong became the first person to set foot on the moon, on July 20, 1969, when he said: "That's one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind."

The grainy black-and-white television images of him taking his first lunar stroll were watched by an estimated 600 million people worldwide — and firmly established him as one of the great heroes of the 20th century.

Armstrong, who had heart surgery in early August, died Saturday in Cincinnati at 82, said NASA spokesman Bob Jacobs. The cause was complications from cardiovascular procedures, his family announced.

He was never comfortable with celebrity he saw as an accident of fate, for stepping on the moon ahead of fellow astronaut Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin. The reticent, self-effacing Armstrong would shun the spotlight for much of the rest of his life.

In a rare public appearance, in 2000, Armstrong cast himself in another light: "I am, and ever will be, a white-sock, pocket-protector, nerdy engineer."

Prof. Jacobson at Legal Insurrection attached the following video and noted.

I was 10 years old at sleep away camp. I remember them bringing us into the rec hall to watch on the black and white televisions. I can’t tell you whether it was live or a replay, but they wanted us to see it. At that age it didn’t mean much, then.

It means so much more now, when I think where we are as a country.

In this moment of remembrance on the death of Neil Armstrong, I’m actually quite sad. And not just because of his death.

Armstrong may have shrugged off the celebrity of being the first man to walk on the moon, but he was vocal in opposition to the downsizing of NASA's mission, and how it would put the US on the path to mediocrity.

I was way too young (one month and 18 days old) to have witnessed the moon landing or know what was going on at the time. But the footage of the landing afterwards, and our space exploration in the following years and decades was an illustration of the greatness of our nation.

Other tributes:

Farwell Neil Armstrong - Midnight Blue - "While saddened by his sudden passing, it is disheartening to know that there is no generation of moon landing astronauts that followed in his footsteps. Just imaging where we would be if we continued the mission to the moon..and beyond."

A Man Has Passed On - This Ain't Hell

Tributes on Twitter, via Twitchy

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