Neil Armstrong: 1930 – 2012

By Phil Plait | August 25, 2012 1:54 pm

The first human to set foot on another world has died. Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong was 82.

There is so much that can be said about this man, from his incredible career to his notorious shying away from the spotlight. He had history thrust upon him, and performed in a way that will be an inspiration to generations of explorers.

I’ve said many times that we can divide all of history into two parts: before humans landed on the Moon, and after. It was not just an important moment, it was the moment, a defining, crystallizing slice of time that confirmed that we humans had become a space faring race. One world could not and would not contain us, and the sky itself was no longer the limit.

We have had our missteps since that one small step, and we can argue about the directions we are or should be taking. But given what we’ve done, and what we are capable of, I have the spark of hope that the future will look back at July 1969 and recognize it for what it was: the dawn of a new era. The end of homo sapiens terrestrialis and the birth of homo sapiens cosmos.

Neil Armstrong was the human who literally stood at that dividing line.

And I wonder… will there someday be a holiday in his honor? In my mind’s eye I can see people lining the streets, watching parades, talking about that day, smiling and laughing… and all the while, through a quartz window in the dome, the crescent Earth will be hanging in the black sky above them.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: NASA, Piece of mind, Space

Comments (126)

  1. Steve Y.

    Great write-up, Phil. Definitely does him justice. Thanks :)

  2. Ted Hartley

    I watched him walk on the moon, and was inspired to study science and engineering. Today I am very sad to lose a hero, and an inspiration. He certainly left the earth and the moon better places.

  3. Steve

    RIP Neil. You will be missed. Today, a hero has left us.

  4. Only 12 men have ever walked on another world, and now only 8 remains. I hope we never let that number reach 0.

  5. Jim Craig

    Even in a world with 7 billion people, when someone like Armstrong leaves it, it feels emptier.

    While Armstrong was one of a kind in my generation, I look forward to when the next brave explorers follow in his footsteps, blazing trails on the moon, Mars and beyond.

  6. The Naturalist

    Can one think of a better memorial than your footprints on another world that will last for millions of years?

  7. Peggy Colebank

    Sad news, he was without a doubt a hero, but more, a shining example of diligence and hard work and dedication to the job at hand. When one life inspires so many people it’s hard to say goodbye. Neil Armstrong’s contribution was so much more than that famous one step. He showed us how it should be done, whatever task the “it” at hand may happen to be. A giant.

  8. Neil will be remembered with reverence by a lot of people, globally, as a noble and humble man. His words that day in 1969, rank alongside anything Shakespear wrote.

  9. The Naturalist

    Can one think of a better memorial than your footprints on another world that will last for millions of years? BTW, I think you should post the picture of him smiling but very tired in the lunar module on the surface of the moon, taken after the moon walk.

  10. How do you begin to describe a man like him? There was no one else who could have done the things he did in the manner in which he did them. Never was there a moment when he would fail us as a hero. He is everything …we wish we could be.

  11. r3v

    This is a great eulogy, Phil. Thank you for writing it.

  12. Frost Bite

    From stardust, to stardust. RIP. A unique individual of a team that changed so many lives. NASA, where dreams meet reality.

  13. Chris Winter

    This was a man whose importance was understated by himself and by the world in general. I do not fault him for avoiding the spotlight in the years after his historic mission. But he did walk on Earth’s natural satellite, and thus became a symbol for pioneering achievement in space flight. Here’s hoping we’re all around in July 2019 so we can celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Apollo 11.

    “And I wonder… will there someday be a holiday in his honor?”

    And here’s hoping that vision comes true. Why should it not? There’s already a Yuri’s Night honoring that fellow Gagarin.

    ” In my mind’s eye I can see people lining the streets, watching parades, talking about that day, smiling and laughing… and all the while, through a quartz window in the dome, the crescent Earth will be hanging in the black sky above them.”

    That too will come to pass — but probably not by 2019.

  14. Kevin

    Tonight at our club observatory’s public night, we will observe the Moon in his honor.

  15. An interview with Armstrong earlier this year: http://thebottomline.cpaaustralia.com.au/

    Everything in the interview says he was a quiet, modest, decent human being. We couldn’t have had a much better representative.

  16. A sad day. I do like the idea of a holiday in honour of the first steps on a other world. Perhaps we could start a petition. A great post thank you.

  17. Mark

    RIP Neil, the 20th century’s Columbus and a very humble hero – an inspiration to all us. I first read about him and his crewmates when I was five and was utterly obsessed with their amazing journey…ever since then I always dreamed of seeing a manned trip to Mars and beyond. Hopefully we can do Neil Armstrong’s memory proud and complete the journey that he and his brave peers started.

    A true pioneer.

  18. I will take to heart the quote from Armstrong’s family, “For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.”

  19. Daniel Snyder

    Dear Phil, I think it is important to remember Mr. Armstrong: his bravery, his strength, his love for his family and for his country.

    But he’s also a man who withdrew from public life after his most notable achievement, and became a devoted family man and teacher. I don’t agree that a memorial day would be what he wanted, or the best way to recognize his accomplishment.

    I would suggest, instead: that every time we ignore the siren song of fame and fortune, every time we don’t abuse the hard work of a team as a springboard for our own ambitions, we remember his example.

    …now, that said, if Ben and Jerry came out with a Neil Armstrong themed ice cream, I’d probably buy it by the gallon. :)

  20. I was not yet alive when he made his historic trip, yet I’m still moved by it. Rest in peace, Mr. Armstrong.

  21. Andy Fleming

    I feel a overwhelming sadness that we have lost a true celebrity, global hero and amazing member of the human race. I hope that some day we will once again have the imagination to follow in Neil’s footsteps and send humans to explore other worlds, at the same time we stop squandering and abusing the natural resources on this one.

    RIP Neil Armstrong. You led mankind’s greatest acheivement and you’re sadly missed.

  22. I think the best memorial would be to make July 2oth “Apollo Day” to honor all the men who took part in the Apollo program.

  23. white rabbit

    RIP

    People like him and Gagarin absolutely deserve to have holidays dedicated to them.

  24. Zyggy

    July 24th is ‘Pioneer Day’ in Utah. It’s a major state holiday and many banks and businesses close. There’s probably more fireworks than on the 4th.

    In my eyes, Neil Armstrong (and the others that have walked on the Moon) are the pioneer(s). Next year, perhaps I can do something about getting him mentioned in the proceedings.

    I watched the moon landings on TV a week after after my 2nd birthday and I’ve been fascinated with space and astronomy ever since that day.

    R.I.P.

  25. Sean H.

    So long, Neil Armstrong. Thank you for inspiring America and the world. It is a shame the interest in space exploration has waned so greatly since your small step and giant leap. We must leap again.

  26. On a pillar of flame through the air
    he went to the moon, cause it’s there.
    Since I was a boy
    I’ve looked up with joy
    and wished that I could join him there.

  27. Thanks for a wonderful write up about Neil Armstrong. I was 5 years old when I watched him take his “One small step” and change the world from the dust of another.

    All I can say in his memory are the words of the poet Virgil who had Apollo say to Iulus, “sic itur ad astra (Thus you shall go to the stars).

  28. Thameron

    I don’t think the evidence supports your optimism about the future of humans in space Doctor. How many people even know who he was? The moment that enabled Neil to step onto the moon was singular and shall not come again in our lifetimes. Your enthusiasm is no match for the general apathy.

  29. Beautifully put, Phil, especially that last part.

    Here’s my own little tribute to my boyhood hero. http://www.herring.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/flag.jpg

  30. Arneb

    What a sad moment in history, and what a great loss. My hat is off to a wonderful human being of towering achievement.

    But don’t be too sure. If there will indeed be a “before and after” the first Moon landing, only history will show. It might just as well turn out to be the one dipping of the toe never repeated because, oh, the water feels so cold.

    And it’s “terrestris” and “cosmicus”. There IS a grammar to be observed in species names.

  31. Tod R. Lauer

    For all of you who wish to remember Neil, I highly recommend “First Man,” a worthy and serious biography. About the last thing Neil ever did was blow his own horn or show off in any way. “First Man” shows what a remarkable hero he was.

    Another interesting take is Mailer’s, “Of a Fire on the Moon.” It is a contemporary account of Apollo 11 – in my mind probably the best one ever written. Mailer could not crack the mystery of Armstrong, but to his credit gave up doing so, but yet painted a vivid picture of who he was.

    Consider…

    Armstrong piloted a vehicle that he had never tried before, in an alien environment that no on had experienced, with the whole world watching, at the culmination of a mission that cost billions of dollars and represented the work of untold thousands. He did it right and never made a fuss about it…

  32. Rocketman

    Wonderfully written Phil. Neil Armstrong will forever be the inspiration of many alive now and to come. In the future when people look back to the 20th century, his name will always be the one to define the era.

  33. Zyggy

    I had to add this…Interesting. And the ‘red dot’ comment is insightful as usual. (hover mouse over image to view)

    http://xkcd.com/893/

  34. Edward

    I was four at the time. It is the first national/international news event that I remember. I wasn’t even aware of Vietnam yet.

  35. Ray Martin

    I am truly saddened by this news. I will never forget the awe and thrilled admiration I felt as a twelve year old boy, watching Neil take those first footsteps upon another world. He was a true hero in every sense of the world, not the least because of his quiet unassuming nature and reluctance to succumb to celebrity. They just don’t make them like that any more.

  36. Wzrd1

    @ Sciencebulldog, I’ll do as the family suggests. Though, I expect the view will be a bit blurred through misty eyes.

  37. Armstrong was a hero and an inspiration. He is one of the few people that I can think of and say that I want to be him.

  38. Scottynuke

    Regardless of how long Armstrong’s footprints remain in the lunar regolith, they will echo forever in the corridors of time. RIP Neil. *SIGHHHH*

  39. I agree with Phil and @IMForeman, above. July 20 should be Apollo Day.

  40. In Argentina we celebrate “Día del Amigo” (Friendship’s Day) on 20 July, in memory of the first lunar landing. It’s not a national holiday, but everybody celebrates.

  41. Patricia

    I found this tribute/request of the Armstrong family in a story I read earlier today:
    “For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request: Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.” The Armstrong Family
    Ever since July 20, 1969 I have been unable to not think of Neil Armstrong and all the other men who’ve walked there when I look up at the moon.

  42. BigBob

    Beautifully put Phil, thank you. Only this morning I was talking to a neighbour about my recent visits to the KSC Visitor Complex and how my passion for space travel was kindled at the age of 10 by those incredibly brave heroic guys landing and walking on the Moon. I just learned about the loss of Neil Armstrong, and called my boys together to tell them. I can say for sure, as you can, that Neil’s inspiration lives on.

    Bob

  43. Muz

    He was and remains my childhood hero and heroes never truly die. Rest easy pioneer.

    A upa ne! ka upa ne! A upane kaupane whiti te ra!
    One upward step! another upward step! An upward step, another, the sun shines!

  44. Farewell to a true hero.
    I’m one of the generation which grew up with Apollo. I was 7 years old at the time of Apollo 11, and already had the passion for space and astronomy which I retain to this day.
    In recent years, I’ve had the great honour and privilege of meeting four of Neil’s colleagues who went to the Moon; I count those among the Great Moments of my life.

  45. Daniel J. Andrews

    I was six. My parents woke me up and we watched the landing on tv. So glad they woke me.

    It is mid-evening here, skies are clear of cloud, and I you can bet I’ll be honoring his family’s wishes by looking up at the moon. I know there wil be many others doing the same thing at the same time, and I bet for many of us that view will be a misty one. Sigh, my keypad is looking a bit misty now….

  46. Kat

    Thank you for writing this.

    He was my hero, though he walked on the moon 14 years before I was born. I always wanted to be an astronaut because of him, though my life has led me in a different direction.

    Neil Armstrong will never be forgotten, whether there is an official memorial day for him or not. We only have to look at the moon to remember.

  47. Ohio Mike

    That last paragraph…whoa.

    It, and the man for whom it was written, really got me right there.

  48. Nick L

    You know, as I walked home this evening, I looked up at the moon and it seemed a little smaller in the sky. It was almost as though it was a little farther away than it has been on previous nights.

    Farewell, star voyager.

  49. Messier Tidy Upper

    Vale Neil Armstrong, First Man on the Moon and one of the greatest and most remarkably different of explorers in human history.

    Well written Phil Plait. So hope you are right about that last paragraph. Yes there should be such a holiday and scene. Will we see it one day? Armstrong base or even city, Sea of Tranquillity, 2??? CE?

  50. Crudely Wrott

    That’s on last step for (a) man,
    Another step in the journey of mankind.

    Onward and upward, standing on the shoulders of those who have gone before.

    Thank you, Neil. You lifted us all.

  51. PeterC

    The US government had a project in place to nuke to moon in an attempt to show superiority to the Soviets and intimidate them. They cancelled this project when they decided to go for the much more spectacular moon landing project.

    So, basically, Neil Armstrong was regarded as a suitably powerful replacement for a nuclear warhead. Sounds about right.

  52. Crudely Wrott

    That’s one last step . . .

    *darn*

  53. DigitalAtheist

    I am at an age (45) where I can’t really remember a time when man had NOT walked on the Moon. The very earliest memories I have of my life are either with my grandfather, or watching an Apollo liftoff and lunar landing. We seriously only had 3 or 4 channels to watch, and you can be guaranteed that both liftoff and live moon coverage were going to be on in the house… if not on TV then on the radio. As I stated somewhere else, for me names like Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Wally Shirra, Gus Grissom, and others are an everyday part of my history. Be it Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Mir, Space Lab, Shuttle, ISS… Space and man in space has been an everday part of my life, and at the top of the list was Mr. Armstrong how got the honor of being the first to step on topography not of Earth… and who always said it was just part of his job.

    Some day in the near future, I see a city. At its heart there is a domed off part still in vacuum, the remains of a Lunar lander as center piece. Around the domed area tourists, and citizens of Luna, stop and stare and wonder just how in the world someone traveled in such primitive technology, while others prepare to visit/colonize yet farther places in our neighborhood

  54. Beautiful writeup Phil. Thanks for this.
    Without Neil the world certainly got a little poorer.

  55. Grand Lunar

    It’s appropiate, I think, that I first hear of this news from you, Phil.

    Intellectually, we knew this day was coming.
    But that doesn’t diminish the impact.

    I certainly do hope there is a holiday in Armstrong’s honor.
    At least have it on the day he first stepped on the moon.

    Your post certainly pays tribute to his and his career.

  56. @JoeAnderson

    Engineer, Astronaut, Legend. Despite that giant leap, he considered himself a pilot first and foremost. He said as much:

    “Pilots take no special joy in walking: pilots like flying.”

    He was truly one of my biggest heroes and influences.

    Thanks for the ongoing inspiration, Neil.

    Great tribute, Phil. Thanks.

  57. Daniel J. Andrews

    Took my iPad outside tonight where I could see the moon (winked at it) and then replayed some of the footage of the moon landing. Poignant, sad, happy, proud, sad….

    Thanks for your tribute, Phil.

  58. Tony

    I find it hard to be sad when a life so fully lived comes to an end. If his legacy is not celebrated and does not inspire us to go even further, then that will be truly sad.

  59. Neil Fox

    Here is an online memorial to Neil Armstrong – please feel free to light a virtual candle or send
    virtual flowers – http://www.memorialmatters.com/memorials.php?page=NeilArmstrong

  60. Ray

    Thank you Neil, for everything you did, both with the space program and with your family. As my viking ancestors once wrote:

    Cattle die, kindred die,
    Every man is mortal:
    But the good name never dies
    Of one who has done well

  61. cy

    Flag should fly at half staff for 30 days.

    Yes this is done for death of Presidents but Neil Armstrong deserves the same honor.

  62. JB of Brisbane

    Anyone from Grafton in northern New South Wales know if anything is planned there? After all, Grafton is the only place I know that named one of their parks “Apollo Eleven Park”.

  63. MadScientist

    Tsk, tsk … naughty BA, mixing Latin and Greek (should we call the result ‘Gratin’ or ‘Leek’).

    Goodbye Neil – your footprints will remain on the Sea of Tranquility for years to come.

  64. Nick L

    66. cy Said: “Flag should fly at half staff for 30 days.”

    Unfortunately, no one can lower the one flag that matters.

  65. Doug

    Amongst the sadness of the loss of this great man, it saddens me to realize the loss of a generation of would be explorers that have not been given opportunity to set foot on another world since Apollo. I would wish Neil Armstong’s death might reignite the passion felt in manned exploration of our space neighborhood.

  66. @18. sciencebulldog :

    I will take to heart the quote from Armstrong’s family, “For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.”

    I will do that; thankyou. One question if I may – what was your source for that, please?

    @45. Muz :

    He was and remains my childhood hero and heroes never truly die. Rest easy pioneer.
    A upa ne! ka upa ne! A upane kaupane whiti te ra!
    One upward step! another upward step! An upward step, another, the sun shines!

    That’s Maori language I’m guessing?

    @61. Tara Li & others here quoting / linking xkcd :

    Quote of the day here perhaps? The text appearing when you hover the mouse over that xkcd cartoon graph :

    “The universe is probably littered with the one planet graves of cultures which made the sensible economic decision that there’s no good reason to go into space – each discovered, studied and remembered by the ones that made the irrational decision.”

    Thanks. So true.

    Neil Armstrong was a hero of mine too an an exemplar of the heights we can reach as humans, scientists, engineers and explorers. Plus a modest, genuinely good person too.

    I second the recommendation made by (#32.) Tod R. Lauer to read ‘First Man’ (Simon & Schuster, 2005.) by James R.Hansen a worthy, comprehensive and excellent biography indeed. Neil Armstrong’s first and far as I know only authorised biography. (Wiki-page for that linked to my name here.)

  67. Zathras

    Phil put it rather more eloquently, but…

    –Star Trek: First Contact, Cmdr Riker:
    “On a day like this you can see Lake Armstrong”

  68. Hugo Schmidt

    Funny, but it hurts worse than I’d think; I grew up with that man’s legend. If any of you have not read Michael Collins Carrying the Fire, you should.

    Here’s the Doctor’s tribute:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HVVQ0u–mYo

    And here’s Darwin:

    “The Beach was once an unknown void. Surely the evidence that mankind has risen thus far may give him hope for a still higher destiny in the future?”

    High Flight

    Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
    And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
    Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
    Of sun-split clouds – and done a hundred things
    You have not dreamed of – wheeled and soared and swung
    High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there
    I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
    My eager craft through footless halls of air.
    Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
    I’ve topped the windswept heights with easy grace
    Where never lark, or even eagle flew –
    And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
    The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
    Put out my hand and touched the face of God.”

    Pilot Officer Gillespie Magee

    Ack. There’s not much one can say that can capture the importance of that moment.

    I’ve said many times that we can divide all of history into two parts: before humans landed on the Moon, and after. It was not just an important moment, it was the moment, a defining, crystallizing slice of time that confirmed that we humans had become a space faring race. One world could not and would not contain us, and the sky itself was no longer the limit.

    Damn straight.

  69. Declan Kennedy

    Lovely article Phil. Many thanks

  70. Graham

    Vale Neil Armstrong

    That’s one final step for a man, one giant loss for mankind.

  71. Infinite123Lifer

    Something special about gazing up whether it be earlier today or right now tonight through clear skies and seeing about half of the Moon. I am reminded that Neil Armstrong would have seen about half of the Earth the day he step foot on the Moon . I am a bit young to have watched on the television but I do not think I will ever forget this. The man is great even upon his passing.

    The Moon tonight. Set date to August 25, 2012 11 pm

    http://www.moongiant.com/

    Earthrise viewed from lunar orbit prior to landing July 20, 1969

    http://history.nasa.gov/ap11ann/kippsphotos/6550.jpg

    How special is that.

  72. Infinite123Lifer

    The Moon August 25, 2012

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/spacemike/7860619174/

    The Earth from lunar orbit prior to landing July 20, 1969

    http://history.nasa.gov/ap11ann/kippsphotos/6550.jpg

  73. DavidC

    I hope your vision comes true, Dr Plait. I also hope that the first child born on The Moon is named in his honor, in some fashion whether it be a boy or girl.

  74. Ash

    Danm, one of the few people I’ve reguarded as genuine heros and inspirations in my life.

    I was born at the end of the Apollo era but have always been fascinated with the Mercury/Gemini/Apollo programs and the X-Planes as well.

    No more steps Neil, you’ve done your job.

  75. That was kinda weird. Came home after work at 10.15pm and… SURPRISE. It was my birthday and I was kinda not in the mood for that after the news.
    So we went outside and saluted the moon with champagne.
    Bon voyage Neil!

  76. Just one more time watching them land:

    youtube.com/watch?v=2BvbD-1qZtc

  77. Above video is from the cam in the ricghthand window and shows the “ten minutes of terror” wich turned guys blue in mission control.
    (includes the famous computer alarm, after which he winged it down manually)
    Neil was a guy with the right bal… euh… stuff.

  78. Messier Tidy Upper

    Good tribute here :

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/zingularity/2012/08/25/neil-armstrong-has-passed-away/

    on the Zingularity blog with footage of the Moon landing by Stephen “DarkSyde” Andrew just in case folks haven’t seen it already.

    Plus more news and reactions here :

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-19384330

    & here :

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-08-26/first-man-on-moon-neil-armstrong-dead-at-82/4223190

    Hope these are interesting and /or informative for y’all.

    All humans die – only twelve (so far) have left behind footprints in the lunar regolith that will last for millions of years.

    *****

    “This is surreal, how each grain of moondust falls into place in these little fans, almost like rose petals.”
    – Buzz Aldrin (during his first Moonwalk July 1969), Page 38, ‘Magnificent Desolation’, B. Aldrin, Bloomsbury, 2009.

  79. alfaniner

    @69. Nick L Says: Unfortunately, no one can lower the one flag that matters.

    Thanks for the idea. (in case the image doesn’t post, here’s a link)
    http://forums.randi.org/vbimghost.php?do=displayimg&imgid=26896

  80. DLC

    “I am, and ever will be, a white socks, pocket protector, nerdy engineer,” — Neil Armstrong.

    I took my pocket protector off some years ago. still have my calculator holster though. still got my Ti -83 too, somewhere around here. Did my first 2 years of technical college with an old, even -then -outdated Ti-30 . Hats off as a great man passes. Condolences to the family and friends. Neil Armstrong, nerdy engineer, he will be one of the giants upon whose shoulders we stand.
    With thanks.

  81. Ken Coenen

    RIP Neil Armstrong, you had, and exhibited ALL THE RIGHT STUFF!

  82. Sigh. Damn. Looks like my boyhood is officially over.

  83. Renee Marie Jones

    He was us at our best.

  84. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    RIP Neil Armstrong. ‘One giant loss for mankind.’

  85. Jonathan Latimer

    I was one and a half years old when he walked on the Moon. My parents told me that I slept through it while they were riveted to Walter Cronkite, watching the descent of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin in Apollo 11 on in 1969.

    So I grew up in a world where we had already done it. I don’t remember a world where we hadn’t walked on the Moon. I don’t know a world where engineering, as a vocation, had not chosen to be so daring.

    During my teenage years, I became a pilot. I can point directly to the Space Program as something that inspired me to pursue that. And, as a pilot, I can imagine experiences that Neil Armstrong must have had in his path that led a quarter million miles into the sky, and caused the entire world to pause, if only for an instant.

    I’m sure such stories abound. Other people were there. Other people will tell of Armstrong’s life and triumphs much better than I. They will quote St Exubry loosing the surly bonds of Earth, and remember Tranquility Base, and One Giant Leap.

    But a memory I will always cherish was the feeling I had the first time I really, truly, nailed the blocks landing a little Cessna in New York. My flight instructor said this simple, simple thing, that flagged the moment forever.

    In that spirit, I can say the same thing:

    Good landing, Neil. The best.

  86. Ash

    My mum stll loves telling the story of watching the moon landings with my brother & sister on her knees while my dad took photo’s of the TV with his 35mm camera – he was that excited and wanted to capture his own memories of the event.

  87. Chris Winter

    Some day there will be other humans on Luna, on Mars, on distant worlds beyond our ken. We will go on, as H. G. wells wrote, conquest beyond conquest. But there will never be another time when someone from this world of our birth became the first to stand somewhere else. We are immensely privileged to have witnessed that day. As others have pointed out, here and at NASA Watch, Neil Armstrong’s achievements were as remarkable as the fact that he did not seek the spotlight to exploit his fame is noteworthy. His was a life of heroic understatement.

    For many, times are harder now than they were in 1969. I won’t belabor the point here; let me just say that the state of our nation needs some improvement. Neil Armstrong’s life shows us that we can improve it.

    Lives of great men all remind us
    We can make our lives sublime,
    And, departing, leave behind us
    Footprints on the sands of time;

    Footprints, that perhaps another,
    Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
    A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
    Seeing, shall take heart again.

    Let us, then, be up and doing,
    With a heart for any fate;
    Still achieving, still pursuing,
    Learn to labor and to wait.”

    – Longfellow, “A PSALM OF LIFE”
    http://www.potw.org/archive/potw232.html

  88. carbonUnit

    I wonder if he’s checked in with Mr. Gorsky yet? :P

  89. carbonUnit

    I was at a scout camp not far from where Armstrong eventually had a farm, Lebanon, OH. I remember listening to the landing on a transistor radio, not realizing the danger they had avoided. That night, there was a campfire, but my Dad came out with our RV and a TV, so I elected to play hookey from a mere campfire to watch history being made on a small black and white TV, over the noise of a generator. Those grainy images are still in my mind.

    I did miss a choice moment at the campfire though. Some scoutmaster got up and gave a rousing talk about an Eagle scout from Wapakoneta, OH. The talk ended something like: “… and tonight, Neil Andersen is walking on the moon!” I don’t know if it still is so, but the main (dirt) road through Woodland Trails Scout Reservation was promptly named “Neil Andersen Blvd.” and there was a parade held every July 20th in Neal’s honor.

    Nobody’s going to forget Neal Armstrong.

  90. Robert

    The White House ordered flags to be flown at half-staff after the Colorado theater massacre: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/07/20/presidential-proclamation-honoring-victims-tragedy-aurora-colorado

    and after the Sikh temple shooting: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/08/06/presidential-proclamation-honoring-victims-tragedy-oak-creek-wisconsin

    Surely if there was a person who deserved the honor of flags flown at half-staff upon their passing it should be Neil Armstrong, the first Human to step foot onto a world other than Earth. President Obama did issue a statement and perhaps the official proclamation will come Monday but come on! Flags should’ve been ordered to half-staff immediately.

  91. An “Inception” / Apollo 11 mashup in tribute to Mr. Armstrong: http://youtu.be/8kQSM8yjgw8

  92. Lloyd Brooks

    Godspeed Neil Armstrong!!!
    Well done, Sir…
    Well done!!!

  93. CR

    I frequently gaze at the moon, knowing that only a few men have yet set foot there, knowing that the number of surviving moon walkers is slowly getting smaller. Yet I also hope that someday, I shall be able to look up at the moon and know that there are men & women there, possibly looking back at the planet I am standing on as I gaze at them.

    Tonight, not knowing that Neil Armstrong had died, I looked at the moon and had those same thoughts… I came straight here as soon as I saw an ad on TV announcing, simply, ‘Neil Alden Armstrong, 1930-2012.’ The next time I look up at the moon again, I shall be sure to honor his family’s wishes, and give a wink. Farewell, humble hero.

  94. Gordon Davie

    LOS for now, Neil.

    We’ll see you on the other side.

  95. elzoli75

    I heard this sad news yesterday. RIP Neil Armstrong.

  96. Bob

    I propose that July 20 be declared Neil Armstrong day, not only in the US, but worldwide. He wasn’t just an American hero (though he disliked being called such), but a hero for humanity. In declaring this holiday, if Congress has the wisdom to do so, it should also prohibit the commercialization of said holiday (in other words, no Neil Armstrong day sales!, though I doubt such a prohibition would be legally possible). I have made this suggestion to my Congressional representative.

  97. mike burkhart

    Neil Armstrong will be missed, he belongs in the Hall of fame of fame of explores along with Eric the Red,Leef Ericson,Christopher Cloumbis,Matt Perey,Roald Amudson, Sir Edmund Hillery and all others who explored unknown lands to see what is beyond.Armstrong is the frist to set foot on another world. He won’t be forgoten for this even as men in the future men set foot on Mars,Venus and the other planets and moons of our Solar System and others. I think the Apollo 11 laanding site sould be renamed Neil Armstrong park .

  98. JaberwokWSA

    As I approach 40 years old, I’d like to point out that during my lifetime, NO ONE has walked on the moon. Unfortunately, homo sapiens cosmos is going extinct. That’s sad.

  99. Bob

    So, you were born after December 13, 1972? It is a pitty that you have been unable to see this, but I hope that you live to see the next manned moon landing.

  100. I know I’m a bit late to the party, but I JUST learned that Neil Armstrong died.

    :-( … One by one, every man that has ever walked on the moon is aging away from us.

    As macabre as it sounds, I am reminded at this moment of an article title in _The Onion_ that appeared when Gene Siskel died. It read, simply, “Ebert Wins”. The funny-boned, way-way-too-soon goofball in me cannot help but respond to Armstrong’s death with “Buzz Wins”. (Ow! Don’t hit!)

  101. Peter B

    Tracer @ #115 said: “As macabre as it sounds, I am reminded at this moment of an article title in _The Onion_ that appeared when Gene Siskel died. It read, simply, “Ebert Wins”. The funny-boned, way-way-too-soon goofball in me cannot help but respond to Armstrong’s death with “Buzz Wins”. (Ow! Don’t hit!)”

    Actually I had a similar thought, only the other way around: Aldrin thinking to himself, “Darn it, second again!”

  102. Martin Bonner

    The line that gives me goosebumps (literally) is not
    “One small step…”
    (that was really a simple matter of opening the capsule door); it’s
    “Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”
    *that* was the triumph.

    Having said that, I expect the count of living lunar visitors to fall to zero in my lifetime (and probably stay there). Students coming to University today know that the Americans visited the moon; they also know that the Egyptians built the pyramids, and think both have about equal relevance to their life.

  103. @87. alfaniner :

    @69. Nick L Says: Unfortunately, no one can lower the one flag that matters. Thanks for the idea.

    Good work. Cheers for that – I’ve shared your lunar flag at half mast image there on my facebook page (& linked to name here) too. Hope that’s okay. :-)

    @99. Chris Winter & #74. Hugo Schmidt : Thanks for those poems too.

  104. I’m sure I’ll see, by my time, a space station on the moon. Next on the horizon is Mars. Let us hope that we will follow the giant steps that Neil had taken. I used this website call Enteral log that you can annual reminders of Mr. Armstrong. Can even leave a comment if you like.

    http://www.sharedsorrows.com/eternapage/?fp=650

  105. DavidC

    This is a lovely tribute I think, though not really written for Neil but still fits http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZsJ0OZUwJ4

  106. Randy Owens

    Damn. I’ve been out of touch while moving, and didn’t hear about this until today. And of all times, I first saw it mentioned while listening to the music from the Babylon 5 final episode “Sleeping In Light”, the track called “How Long Do I Have?”, which tends to make me a bit teary all by itself. (If no one else appreciates this, at least I can be pretty sure Zathras will.)

    ETA: And next up, a much more obscure song, David J, “Dress Sexy At My Funeral.” A bit of emotional whiplash there.

  107. @87. alfaniner :

    Unfortunately, the flag planted by Apollo 11 is lying on its side. They planted it a little too close to the LEM, so that when the Ascent Stage blasted off, the rocket exhaust knocked the flag pole over.

    Personally, I think the flags from Apollos 12, 14, 16, and 17 should all be flown at half mast, if the flag from Apollo 11 can’t be.

  108. I was 11 when MY HEROES landed on the Moon. I still remember the emotion. I have no words to show my saddness. No words.

  109. Rob

    Re: Tod R. Lauer Says:
    August 25th, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    “Consider…

    Armstrong piloted a vehicle that he had never tried before, in an alien environment that no on had experienced, with the whole world watching, at the culmination of a mission that cost billions of dollars and represented the work of untold thousands. He did it right and never made a fuss about it…”

    I think that is the best memorial anyone can have.

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