Neil Armstrong, First Man on the Moon, 1930-2012

By Sophie Bushwick | August 27, 2012 1:52 pm

Armstrong and Aldrin on the Moon

Neil Armstrong, the astronaut who took a giant leap for mankind, died on Saturday at the age of 82. Reserved and shy, Armstrong always insisted that he wasn’t a hero despite some fairly heroic acts.

The unflappable commander of Apollo 11, he braved a mission that he thought had only 50-50 odds of landing on the Moon, and a decent chance of never returning home. And when he realized that the original lunar landing site was untenable, he took over from the computer to manually find a new site and set down—while fuel supplies ticked away. After returning to Earth, Armstrong’s natural reserve didn’t stop him from reaching out and sharing his experience, even after he retired from NASA to teach at the University of Cincinnati.

But these aren’t the only reasons why we continue to label the first man on the moon a hero. It’s because when Armstrong took that one small step on the Moon, every human on Earth—even those who hadn’t been born yet—took it with him. Poring over his photographs of the trip, we can look at the Earth from afar, a bright jewel floating serenely in the blackness of space, and know simultaneously that we are insignificant specks and amazing creatures, capable of reaching across space to set foot on another world.

Image courtesy of NASA / AP

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space
  • Pippa

    An incredible man. My condolences to his family, and to all who knew and admired him. I am sure that there are many like myself who remember the excitement of that landing, (even though I was a child – and we did not have a TV – I actually read all about it in newspapers,) and feel the loss despite never knowing him in person.

  • floodmouse

    I remember the moon landing. That was one of the capital “E” experiences of my childhood. Cheers to his memory -

  • sayed ishtiyaq

    what is that shadow on d left side bottom….?

  • Tony Mach

    Sayed Ishtiyaq, these two people you see, in their mainly white and bulky space suits, needed a device called the “Apollo Lunar Module” (LM), a fairly interesting spacecraft, to reach the lunar surface – with lunar meaning “of the Moon”, in case you didn’t knew.

    The height of this LM device was about 17.9 ft (5.5 meter), and the camera that took this image was mounted in this LM spacecraft. In fact you can see one “Reaction Control Thruster” of the LM on the lower right side of the image.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_Lunar_Module

    The shadow in the lower left side of the image is an shadow of said 5.5 meter high “LM” spacecraft, or of one of it landing “legs” to be precise. And in fact you can see even more of this shadow of the LM spacecraft in less cropped versions of this image:
    http://cdn.physorg.com/newman/gfx/news/2012/usastronauts.jpg

    But I think my words will mean nothing to you, because you either made a joke about the shadow (and fully well know what caused it) – or you are dead set on thinking the moon landing was faked, and nothing anybody can say will convince you otherwise.

  • SimonD

    Oooooooo! But who took the photo?! Michael Collins was orbiting.

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