Friday, August 31, 2012

A Very Brief Tribute to Neil Armstrong while I React to the News of Him Passing

Neil Armstrong: 1930-2012
    A national hero was lost today, August 25th, 2012.  Neil Armstrong, the first man to land and walk on the Moon passed away after complications from heart surgery about a month ago.  The 82 year old man was a solitary man- not really enjoying the attention that he got (and often times that he alone got) despite the accomplishment and history that he made.  Although Wapakoneta, OH was his place of birth his family moved to 20 different towns in his first 15 years of life before returning to Wapak for high school.  After high school, he became an US Navy pilot serving in the Korean War before coming back home and being a test pilot.  Many other test pilots were also selected to be early astronauts.  Neil join NASA during the Gemini era and was a part of a nearly ill-fated Gemini 8 mission, which was the first to successfully dock with another craft in space.  He then became a part of the Apollo program and was eventually selected for Apollo 11.  11 was not originally going to be the moon landing mission, but after the successes of 8 and 9 it was decided to go ahead for the Moon landing.  Neil Armstrong was picked to be the commander of that mission because of his humility and charm.  That also led to him being selected to be the first off of the lander once they made it to the Moon.  Neil always played down the fact that he was first to walk on the Moon because he felt that the real accomplishment was the landing and the later take-off/ascent which was a team effort and a piloting and engineering challenge.
I have much more to say and will be discussing his accomplishments and the space program in some classes on Monday.  I plan to record those lectures and place the recording here when it is available.