I've got your missing links right here (Neil Armstrong edition)

By Ed Yong | August 26, 2012 6:19 am

Photo by Buzz Aldrin

Neil Armstrong took his final small step, and the world mourns the loss of that rarest of creatures: the humble hero. That a man can walk on the Moon and stay down-to-Earth reassures me greatly about humanity.

Here’s a special edition of “missing links” to commemorate Neil Armstrong’s death, because I’m rather emotional about it, I don’t want to wait till next Saturday, and there is some incredible stuff out there. This list is completely free of any cheap masturbatory attempts to use his death to talk about space exploration. There will be plenty of time for that. Today, I’d like to celebrate history.


The best Armstrong obituary, bar none, can be found at the Economist.

A beautiful statement 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.”

The Onion’s moon landing “front page” always captured the scale of the achievement best.

In 2010, Radiolab’s Robert Krulwich got a wonderful email from Neil Armstrong. Epitomises who he was. Humble, giving, heroic.

“”We copy you on the ground. You’ve got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We’re breathing again.” That was the moment a hundred million people around the world also started breathing again.” The great Tim Radford beautifully explains what it was like to witness the Moon landings and what it meant for the world.

“Even though we were farther away from earth than two humans had ever been, we were not alone.” Buzz Aldrin’s statement on Armstrong’s death.

Here’s the full transcript of the lunar landing communications. I love its mundanity. Just some guys, calling out readings.

The most wonderful picture of Armstrong, grinning wildly as he returns to Earth.

Armstrong’s last interview, delivered to a small Australian audience. I especially love the last line on conspiracy theorists: “It was never a concern… I know that somebody is going to go fly back up there & pick up that camera I left.”

Armstrong outlived the man who wrote his Observer obituary. By 7 years.

Here’s a statement that Nixon would’ve read in ’69 if Apollo 11’s astronauts had died or been unable to return. It’s fittingly poignant today

There are just a handful of pics of Neil Armstrong actually on the moon and all but one show his butt.

Wonderful front page of Neil’s hometown newspaper after return from the Moon

Here’s what happens when a big event happens at the end of August on a Saturday night. NBC says that astronaut Neil Young died. Telegraph: 1st US woman in space. Dutch paper: 1st man on Earth. Clearly, there was a lot about Armstrong we didn’t know.

Neil Gaiman pays tribute to Neil Armstrong, and we learn that there was once a major Neil convention

‘The earth is quite beautiful from space.’ Neil Armstrong to Patrick Moore in a classic 1970 interview

Some quotes:

  • “Neil Armstrong was a hero not just of his time, but of all time. Thank you, Neil, for showing us the power of one small step.” – Barack Obama
  • “Apollo 11, July 1969. No other act of human exploration ever laid a plaque saying “We Come In Peace For All Mankind” – Neil deGrasse Tyson
  • “The stars are not wanted now: put out every one. Pack up the moon & dismantle the sun….” – Astrojenny, quoting Auden.

And finally… Here’s Buzz Aldrin hitting a moon landing nut in the face. I like to picture that somewhere, out there, thousands of people are mouthing off about Armstrong’s death. And somewhere, else, driving towards them, knuckles white and countenance grim, is Buzz.



Comments (7)

  1. Pat

    The first thing I remember for sure is the Moon landing, when I was 5 and three quarters. He was a hero, and much more.

  2. Ben Yacobi

    Wonderful, thanks for compiling these links.

  3. guest

    Thank you for putting this together. I hadn’t seen some of those yet.

  4. Daniel J. Andrews

    Thanks, Ed. I was pretty sure you’d put up a list like this. I’m feeling pretty emotional about it myself. Last night I sat outside and just stared at the moon, and gave a wink, and I played the old moon landing tapes on my tablet. There was just something about seeing both the videos and the actual moon at the same time that made the landing videos all the more powerful.

    There is one link that perhaps you might like if you haven’t seen it before—this one where a ham radio operator, Larry Baysinger, ‘eavesdropped’ on the transmissions. He thought he might catch some stuff that was censored, but he says what he heard pretty much came through on the radio seconds later (he was able to confirm the Onion’s headlines were not entirely accurate 😉

    Love the comment about Buzz. Saw that on twitter and laughed.

  5. tim Rowledge

    You’re right about the quality of the Economist’s obit but please don’t read the comments. Libertartian fuckwits, moon-landing-hoaxers, apple-haters, and probably anti-vaxxers. Sigh.

  6. Don Bockenfeld

    This link goes to the wrong place:
    Armstrong outlived the man who wrote his Observer obituary. By 7 years.


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