Sunday, August 26, 2012

Bon Voyage Neil Armstrong

The first man to walk on the moon has passed on to his next great journey. Neil Armstrong passed away yesterday at the age of 82 due to complications with coronary surgery. Not only was Mr. Armstrong the first man to step onto the moon's surface, but it was he was the lunar module's (LEM's) pilot, who took over control of the LEM's automatic landing program during the final approach in order to avoid a field of car-sized boulders and thus avoid the first extra-terrestrial space disaster.

Before joining the space program, he was a test pilot. He was also an engineer. He was one of the few pilots to fly the X-15. After joining the space program, he flew on the Gemini 8 mission, rendezvousing and docking (another first) with an Agena booster in low earth orbit. He was an exemplary pilot with nerves of steel, but in person a retiring person, averse to being in the spotlight. Fame did not suit him.

Like so many others, I would've liked to have met him. But who wouldn't? I have met a few of the Apollo astronauts in passing. But there are fewer and fewer left these days. Eight of the original twelve moonwalkers are still with us, but they are all in their 80s. The time may come when no-one on Earth will be left who has been on the moon, or any other celestial body for that matter. If that time comes, who will inspire our kids to be the next bunch of explorers to inspire future generations?

Farewell Mr. Armstrong. Godspeed wherever you have gone.


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