Neil Armstrong, First Man on the Moon, Dead at 82

Neil ArmstrongNASA/Public Domain

Some have said that the environmental movement was a byproduct of the space program; that image from Apollo 8 of Earth floating in space influenced a generation. But Neil Armstrong was also an inspiration. This cool, quiet engineer knew his job inside and out; when on automatic descent he saw a big rock and took over and landed manually. He never showboated; he never tried to capitalize on his fame; he did his job and did it well. After returning to earth he quietly returned home and taught engineering.

He was the best example I know of cool and calm under pressure, of grace and modesty under the spotlight. According to the International Herald Tribune, he described himself thusly

“I am, and ever will be, a white socks, pocket protector, nerdy engineer,” he said in February 2000 in a rare public appearance. “And I take a substantial amount of pride in the accomplishments of my profession.”

Watch Mike's slideshow, From the Earth to the Moon: The Beginnings of Space Travel

earthrise-cropped black and white

See also Earthrise: The Photo that Launched a Movement

Alexis Madrigal of The Atlantic had a great idea of how to do a quick post on Armstrong; Go to NASA and get some photos. With credit to him I am going to steal a few of my favourites.

launchThe Launch/Public Domain

The descentThe descent/Public Domain

the ladderStepping down the ladder/Public Domain

the footstepThe first step/Public Domain

the returnThe return/Public Domain

The happy voyagerThe happy voyager/Public Domain

The party afterThe party after/Public Domain

Neil Armstrong, First Man on the Moon, Dead at 82
The quiet engineer set an example of cool, calm and grace.

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