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Man on the moon
August 25, 2012 12:17 PM   Subscribe

Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, has died.
posted by secretdark (516 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by Lukenlogs at 12:17 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by Ink-stained wretch at 12:17 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by DreamerFi at 12:18 PM on August 25, 2012


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A great man.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:18 PM on August 25, 2012


O .
posted by veryape at 12:19 PM on August 25, 2012 [19 favorites]


One small step

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posted by jonp72 at 12:19 PM on August 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


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posted by jjray at 12:19 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:19 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by kjh at 12:19 PM on August 25, 2012


Godspeed, Mr. Armstrong. Straight on 'till morning.
posted by easily confused at 12:19 PM on August 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oh, what sad news.

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posted by tyllwin at 12:19 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by sexyrobot at 12:19 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by Bwithh at 12:20 PM on August 25, 2012


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Am I crazy or does that headline read 'Astronaut Neil Young'?
posted by axiom at 12:20 PM on August 25, 2012 [8 favorites]


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posted by iviken at 12:20 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by axismundi at 12:21 PM on August 25, 2012


O                       o
posted by Artw at 12:21 PM on August 25, 2012 [13 favorites]


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posted by toerinishuman at 12:21 PM on August 25, 2012


You were the Right Stuff.

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posted by marvin at 12:21 PM on August 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


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posted by OmieWise at 12:21 PM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


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So sad. Can't stop crying. "The Eagle has landed" are words that live very deep in my heart.
posted by sc114 at 12:22 PM on August 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


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posted by pahalial at 12:22 PM on August 25, 2012


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The word "hero" gets thrown around far too often nowadays. Like way too often. I dont think youre a hero just because youre a cop, or in the armed forces, or wear a uniform. Clearly there are many, many, many heroes that are cops and in the military, but you dont get to be called "hero" just for showing up, regardless of what that lame National Guard commercial says.

Neil Armstrong was a real, actual, capital "H" HERO. To risk what he did in the name of exploration and human achievement was HUGE. Just massive. At a time when space travel was a largely unproven field, he threw himself out there into the dark. Balls out.

RIP Neil Armstrong.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 12:22 PM on August 25, 2012 [117 favorites]


Here's hoping we get to go back and put up a little memorial for him.
posted by Artw at 12:23 PM on August 25, 2012 [53 favorites]


It's been a bad week for the Armstrongs.

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posted by jimmythefish at 12:23 PM on August 25, 2012 [11 favorites]


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posted by Captain_Science at 12:23 PM on August 25, 2012


How long will it be until we no longer have anyone left who has walked on the surface of the moon?
posted by ocherdraco at 12:24 PM on August 25, 2012 [15 favorites]


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posted by angrycat at 12:24 PM on August 25, 2012


on to an even bigger step

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posted by lapolla at 12:24 PM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by Kevin Street at 12:24 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by fishmasta at 12:25 PM on August 25, 2012


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oY59wZdCDo0
posted by the theory of revolution at 12:25 PM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by hangingbyathread at 12:25 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by bitter-girl.com at 12:25 PM on August 25, 2012


Here's hoping we get to go back and put up a little memorial for him.


That is a brilliant idea. At least until Zod, Ursa, and Non break out of the Phantom Zone and mess with it.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 12:26 PM on August 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


I am the least sentimental person ever, I never understand people saying "I am crying at my desk", but this news has shocked and saddened me, and I keep tearing up. I keep thinking "he wasn't even that old", even though he kind of was. The only comfort is the past few weeks successes with the mars missions encourages me to believe there will be more following in his footsteps, and that the torch has been passed well. Not just tearing up any more now.

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posted by Iteki at 12:26 PM on August 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


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For all mankind.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:26 PM on August 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


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posted by brieche at 12:27 PM on August 25, 2012


Let's quit failing him.

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posted by dirtdirt at 12:27 PM on August 25, 2012 [22 favorites]


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posted by acb at 12:28 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by Foci for Analysis at 12:28 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by brundlefly at 12:28 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by secretdark at 12:28 PM on August 25, 2012


I just shared this link on Facebook and the preview showed an earlier version of the article that said "Astronaut Neil Young has died." Someone at NBC should really be ashamed of themselves.
posted by MegoSteve at 12:28 PM on August 25, 2012 [13 favorites]


ocherdraco: How long will it be until we no longer have anyone left who has walked on the surface of the moon?

Of the twelve astronauts from six Apollo missions who have walked on the moon, four are dead. Two astronauts per each mission walked on the moon, and one of the pair from Apollo 11, 12, 14, and 15 are now dead. Surprisingly, the prior 3 died in the 1990s.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:28 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by maryr at 12:30 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by cornmander at 12:31 PM on August 25, 2012


NASA bio, not yet updated with his passing, and his page on Star Child, one of NASA's kid-focused sites.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:31 PM on August 25, 2012


I always appreciated that Neil Armstrong never exploited the honor of being the first man to walk on the moon for his own benefit. A real class act.

Plus he was an X-15 pilot. Those guys rocked.
posted by dglynn at 12:31 PM on August 25, 2012 [23 favorites]


In December, it will have been forty years since the last time someone walked on the moon. The last man there is now 78 years old. I am getting old in a world where space is a place people used to want to go, before I was born.

Goodbye, Neil. We weren't ready to see you go.
posted by gracedissolved at 12:31 PM on August 25, 2012 [19 favorites]


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A man with equal amounts of class to match his extraordinary talent. Nasa picked the right person for the job.
posted by Dr. Peter Venkman at 12:31 PM on August 25, 2012




How long will it be until we no longer have anyone left who has walked on the surface of the moon?


An estimate.
posted by stevis23 at 12:31 PM on August 25, 2012 [11 favorites]


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posted by joannemerriam at 12:31 PM on August 25, 2012


He was a brave and humble man. We can all learn something from his quiet dignity.
posted by Argyle at 12:32 PM on August 25, 2012


Good luck, Mr. Gorsky.

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posted by Bromius at 12:32 PM on August 25, 2012 [9 favorites]


As the Eagle landing craft became upright upon descent, Armstrong, now able to see ahead, saw the planned landing area was full of boulders so he took the stick and flew the craft across the path to find a better spot. The audio signal counts off the remaining fuel as it drops.

Before the launch he flew the training craft to be ready for the final seconds of controlled flight should it be required. Film shows the craft going wrong and turning sideways and crashing as he floats down on a parachute having ejected safely. That event had to be on his mind don't we all suppose.

Hero. Modest man. Scientist. Teacher. Not a bad list.
posted by Freedomboy at 12:32 PM on August 25, 2012 [24 favorites]


I made a meme for him five years ago.


posted by oneswellfoop at 12:32 PM on August 25, 2012 [8 favorites]


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The earth and moon lost a great man today.
posted by lilkeith07 at 12:33 PM on August 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


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posted by drezdn at 12:33 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by dragstroke at 12:33 PM on August 25, 2012


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Get me the fuck off this putrid orb
posted by lalochezia at 12:33 PM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by The Man from Lardfork at 12:34 PM on August 25, 2012


I'm sorry to hear this. I remember exactly where I was when I heard that the landing was successful, what a triumph that was for mankind. I suspect that those of you that grew up knowing that we had already accomplished this will never imagine the feeling for us that lived it.
posted by HuronBob at 12:34 PM on August 25, 2012 [10 favorites]


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posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:34 PM on August 25, 2012


First Moon Landing 1969.
posted by fragmede at 12:34 PM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by ericb at 12:34 PM on August 25, 2012


My favorite picture of Neil Armstrong, taken right after his moon walk.
posted by Windigo at 12:35 PM on August 25, 2012 [93 favorites]


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posted by infini at 12:35 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by reprise the theme song and roll the credits at 12:35 PM on August 25, 2012


One step further.

Godspeed, Neil.
posted by Capt. Renault at 12:36 PM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


The first moonlanding by Apollo 11 (1969) [Google video]

Interview with Neil Armstrong on BBC in 1970, talking about the look of sky from space (7:13, YouTube)

Neil Armstrong in an interview with 60 minutes, later in life. (13 minutes, Google video)
posted by filthy light thief at 12:36 PM on August 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


Windigo: mine, too.
posted by sc114 at 12:36 PM on August 25, 2012


Thank you Neil for giving me my biggest dream; to see the earth from space.

Goodnight, sweet spaceman.
posted by pyrex at 12:36 PM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by HMSSM at 12:37 PM on August 25, 2012


The URL of the link in the FPP does indeed say neil young... WTF MSM
posted by infini at 12:37 PM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Remember watching at my grandmother's house as an 8 year old. Godspeed Neil.
posted by Grumpy old geek at 12:37 PM on August 25, 2012



(Earthrise over the horizon of a period)
posted by XMLicious at 12:37 PM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]




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posted by hattifattener at 12:37 PM on August 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


He already has the greatest memorial; the moon has no wind, so his footprints will be there for thousands of years.
posted by jaduncan at 12:37 PM on August 25, 2012 [47 favorites]


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posted by jeffkramer at 12:38 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by exlotuseater at 12:38 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by Flood at 12:38 PM on August 25, 2012


‎"I believe every human has a finite number of heartbeats. I don't intend to waste any of mine."
posted by Senor Cardgage at 12:38 PM on August 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


I was sure that is anyone were to live forever, it would be Neil.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:38 PM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd like to visit the moon, but I don't think I'd live there (Ernie and Aaron Neville)
posted by filthy light thief at 12:38 PM on August 25, 2012 [8 favorites]


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posted by get off of my cloud at 12:39 PM on August 25, 2012


Just going to sit down on the street corner here and have a little cry in private with seven billion other humans.


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posted by samofidelis at 12:39 PM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


dglynn: Plus he was an X-15 pilot. Those guys rocked.

From his NASA bio, "he has flown over 200 different models of aircraft, including jets, rockets, helicopters and gliders."
posted by filthy light thief at 12:39 PM on August 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


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posted by fremen at 12:39 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by winna at 12:40 PM on August 25, 2012


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The idol of my older brothers and sister who watched the moon landings, and one of the few American heroes we had whose accomplishments weren't rooted in war.

What jaduncan said is beautiful, also.
posted by littlerobothead at 12:40 PM on August 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


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posted by spinifex23 at 12:40 PM on August 25, 2012


Armstrong and Aldrin were risking their lives, in no small way, to advance mankind. Here is the text of the speech that William Safire wrote for then-President Nixon to read in the event that they didn't make it back: [from Letters of Note]
To: H. R. Haldeman
From: Bill Safire

July 18, 1969.

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IN EVENT OF MOON DISASTER:

Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace.

These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope for their recovery. But they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice.

These two men are laying down their lives in mankind's most noble goal: the search for truth and understanding.

They will be mourned by their families and friends; they will be mourned by the nation; they will be mourned by the people of the world; they will be mourned by a Mother Earth that dared send two of her sons into the unknown.

In their exploration, they stirred the people of the world to feel as one; in their sacrifice, they bind more tightly the brotherhood of man.

In ancient days, men looked at the stars and saw their heroes in the constellations. In modern times, we do much the same, but our heroes are epic men of flesh and blood.

Others will follow, and surely find their way home. Man's search will not be denied. But these men were the first, and they will remain the foremost in our hearts.

For every human being who looks up at the moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 12:40 PM on August 25, 2012 [63 favorites]


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posted by kariebookish at 12:40 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by neilb449 at 12:41 PM on August 25, 2012


A legend.

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posted by MuffinMan at 12:41 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by quoz at 12:41 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by sheprime at 12:41 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by Anitanola at 12:42 PM on August 25, 2012


Oh, how sad. We named our son after him (Alden, his middle name). He was a brave pioneer and a symbol of humanity's unquenchable exploratory instincts. RIP.
posted by KathrynT at 12:42 PM on August 25, 2012 [8 favorites]


How long will it be until we no longer have anyone left who has walked on the surface of the moon?

Within the next 5 years probably. 12 men walked on the moon. 4 of them have died and the rest are in their late 70s or early 80s.

Neil Armstrong was a real, actual, capital "H" HERO.

Armstrong would have disagreed, as he didn't seem himself in such a lofthy way and honestly didn't understand why he was exalted as the First Man on the Moon. To his mind, the big deal was actually landing on the moon, which he and Buzz Aldrin did at the same time.

There's so much that's legendary about Armstrong, but the reality he was humble man, hardly the best pilot among the astronauts and was not specifically picked to be first on the moon. Yet he rose to the occasion and accepted the role and lived it as best he could, on his terms.

The best, and my personally favorite, fact about Neil Armstrong is that after walking on the moon, when the world was at his feet and he could have literally done anything. Millions of dollars could have been his, for endorsing just about anything. He could have been a senator or even President, as he had an uncanny knack for saying the right thing at the right time. Instead, he became a Professor of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Cincinnati.

Another interesting fact is that Jack Schmidt, the geologist who walked on the Moon on Apollo 17 said Armstrong's collection of rocks were the best collected from all the missions. He said Armstrong was one of the most keenly observant of the moonwalkers and that showed in his collection samples, which had the most variety to them. Keep in mind that Armstrong never got more than 200 yards or so from the Lunar Module, while later astronauts traveled as much as 7 miles from it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:42 PM on August 25, 2012 [77 favorites]


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posted by batmonkey at 12:43 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by jcreigh at 12:43 PM on August 25, 2012


My favorite picture of Neil Armstrong, taken right after his moon walk.

Has there been any explanation why his eyes were so red? I like to think it was because he was crying not because of overtiredness or dry air in the capsule,
posted by PenDevil at 12:43 PM on August 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


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posted by The Great Big Mulp at 12:44 PM on August 25, 2012


Having read a little about him, what stands out is that he was a good and worthy man, yet humble enough for such a great honor. He may be dead, but I doubt he will be ever be forgotten.
posted by Jehan at 12:44 PM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by inflatablekiwi at 12:45 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:45 PM on August 25, 2012


There's so much that's legendary about Armstrong, but the reality he was humble man, hardly the best pilot among the astronauts and was not specifically picked to be first on the moon. Yet he rose to the occasion and accepted the role and lived it as best he could, on his terms.

That right there is why he's so incredible. Big Damn Hero.
posted by cmyk at 12:45 PM on August 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Columbus and Magellan were nothing compared to this man. They used centuries old technologies in well known (admittedly unmapped) environments to explore places that other people had already been, for reasons that were largely self-promotion and personal enrichment.

Just to put things in perspective.

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posted by Slarty Bartfast at 12:45 PM on August 25, 2012 [9 favorites]


My favorite picture of Neil Armstrong, taken right after his moon walk.

Has there been any explanation why his eyes were so red? I like to think it was because he was crying not because of overtiredness or dry air in the capsule,


Thinking the same, isn't the sheer ecstaticness of walking on the moon all over his face?
The photo makes me cry anyway.
posted by PHINC at 12:47 PM on August 25, 2012


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RIP, Neil Armstrong. Not only for being the first human to walk on the moon and being a generally awesome dude, but also for being indirectly responsible for one of the funniest Onion stories ever.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 12:48 PM on August 25, 2012 [17 favorites]


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posted by rtha at 12:48 PM on August 25, 2012


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For a fellow Eagle Scout.
posted by ColdChef at 12:48 PM on August 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


I like this photo of him.
Helluva human being.
posted by secretdark at 12:48 PM on August 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Shocked. Another childhood hero gone. NOW, in his honor, can we finally send humans to goddamn Mars?
posted by NorthernLite at 12:48 PM on August 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Cronkite anchors Armstrong's moon landing (the good bits version)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:48 PM on August 25, 2012 [11 favorites]


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posted by Anything at 12:48 PM on August 25, 2012









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posted by Mental Wimp at 12:49 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by smangosbubbles at 12:50 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by fuse theorem at 12:50 PM on August 25, 2012


Damn.
posted by COBRA! at 12:50 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by jpolchlopek at 12:51 PM on August 25, 2012


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The letter in Homeboy Trouble's Post is amazing, it almost tears me up just reading it, putting it into perspective.
posted by marienbad at 12:51 PM on August 25, 2012


A pale white dot to mark his passing seems very appropriate

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posted by zombieflanders at 12:51 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by jackmakrl at 12:52 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by cazoo at 12:52 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by Sokka shot first at 12:52 PM on August 25, 2012


Some things advance, some things stop.

Here's hoping that DoD budgets shrink so NASA can grow.
posted by jaduncan at 12:52 PM on August 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


I'm stepping through the door
And I'm floating
in a most peculiar way
And the stars look very different today

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posted by humannaire at 12:53 PM on August 25, 2012 [8 favorites]


My IRL name is Neil. When I was a child, I absolutely worshiped this man. I wanted to be an astronaut more than anything. The Apollo moonwalk took place just days after my tenth birthday -- I felt like it was a personal present to me from my hero. My eyes were glued to the television.

Thanks, namesake, and godspeed.

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posted by trip and a half at 12:53 PM on August 25, 2012 [12 favorites]


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For a fellow Eagle Scout.
posted by jazon at 12:54 PM on August 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


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posted by Auguris at 12:54 PM on August 25, 2012


Onwards.
posted by casarkos at 12:54 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by BlackLeotardFront at 12:54 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by Nickel Pickle at 12:55 PM on August 25, 2012


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This news has really ruined my day.
posted by Darken Skye at 1:00 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 1:01 PM on August 25, 2012


O                                                                           o .
posted by jenkinsEar at 1:02 PM on August 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


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posted by gc at 1:04 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by meinvt at 1:07 PM on August 25, 2012


Statement from the Armstrong family. The last paragraph is a real tear jerker.
posted by samofidelis at 1:08 PM on August 25, 2012 [15 favorites]


"I've often said that my instinct-not a carefully reasoned statistical study, but my instincts-told me that we had a 90 percent chance of a safe return and a 50 percent chance of a safe landing"
-Neil Armstrong

Strange fact about 1st moon landing: There are only about 5 photos of Neil Armstrong on the moon, none of them good.. How amazing is that? If you're were on the moon, wouldn't you say "Hey, take a photo of me"? Yet Neil didn't. He just did the job, which was typical for him.

Check out the first minute of this prelaunch press conference from 1969. It's vintage Armstrong and showcases the great warmth of his smile and sly sense of humor.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:08 PM on August 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


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posted by Twain Device at 1:08 PM on August 25, 2012


"It still seems like a dream."
posted by Fizz at 1:08 PM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by bwerdmuller at 1:08 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by ugf at 1:08 PM on August 25, 2012


RIP Mr. Armstrong. "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."

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posted by gemmy at 1:09 PM on August 25, 2012 [14 favorites]


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posted by sigmagalator at 1:09 PM on August 25, 2012


I wonder if now the IAU can see fit to honor him with a more prominent crater. All three members of the crew of Apollo 11 have craters named for them, but they're near the landing site in the Sea of Tranquility, so they're tiny and isolated.
posted by rlk at 1:10 PM on August 25, 2012


Damn straight he did

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posted by ShawnString at 1:10 PM on August 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Don't tell me the sky is the limit when there are footprints on the moon.
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 1:10 PM on August 25, 2012 [20 favorites]


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posted by marimeko at 1:11 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by triceryclops at 1:11 PM on August 25, 2012


Contact light.

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posted by run"monty at 1:11 PM on August 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


:( A true Hero.

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posted by zarq at 1:11 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by mumimor at 1:11 PM on August 25, 2012


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This makes me so very, very sad. I watched him set foot on the Moon back in 1969.
What we need to do is to go back there ASAP and set up a little memorial, maybe fence off their footsteps in the regolith.
Fuck me. Neil Armstrong is dead.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 1:11 PM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by en forme de poire at 1:12 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by Mitheral at 1:13 PM on August 25, 2012


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I remember watching all the launches. My mom and dad, later, my mom and step-dad ALWAYS excused us from school to watch launch coverage.

We had pictures of the astronauts. I kind of hoped I'd get to live in Space, or on another planet.

The astronauts were ALL my heroes! So were the guys at Mission Control. I early on understood their importance.
The Space Program to me has always been one of the best things ever.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 1:14 PM on August 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


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posted by Mercher at 1:16 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by MighstAllCruckingFighty at 1:16 PM on August 25, 2012


☆彡
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 1:17 PM on August 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


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Fuck.
posted by Karmeliet at 1:17 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by Slithy_Tove at 1:18 PM on August 25, 2012


O<>o
posted by waitingtoderail at 1:19 PM on August 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


"The exciting part for me, as a pilot, was the landing on the moon. That was the time that we had achieved the national goal of putting Americans on the moon. The landing approach was, by far, the most difficult and challenging part of the flight. Walking on the lunar surface was very interesting, but it was something we looked on as reasonably safe and predictable. So the feeling of elation accompanied the landing rather than the walking."
-Neil Armstrong
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:19 PM on August 25, 2012 [8 favorites]


So sad.

NASA's press release pointed to this official Neil Armstrong site.
posted by girlhacker at 1:20 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by Wemmick at 1:20 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by royalsong at 1:22 PM on August 25, 2012


A true human.
posted by seanmpuckett at 1:25 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by JohnnyGunn at 1:25 PM on August 25, 2012


"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.""
posted by ColdChef at 1:26 PM on August 25, 2012 [10 favorites]


102:45:58 Armstrong (onboard): Engine arm is off. (Pause) (Now on voice-activated comm) Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.

102:46:06 Duke: (Momentarily tongue-tied) Roger, Twan...(correcting himself) Tranquility. We copy you on the ground. You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We're breathing again. Thanks a lot.
From the Apollo 11 transcript of the amazing Apollo Lunar Surface Journal.
posted by notme at 1:26 PM on August 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


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posted by cman at 1:30 PM on August 25, 2012


t's hard to put into words how important Neil Armstrong and the moon landing were to 12 year-old me and the rest of the country. For a while we thought we could do anything, that nothing was impossible.

Goodbye and Godspeed.
posted by tommasz at 1:33 PM on August 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


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posted by ariel_caliban at 1:34 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by thack3r at 1:36 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by MelanieL at 1:38 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by tykky at 1:39 PM on August 25, 2012


A handful of brave men in the entire history of mankind walked on the moon. They WALKED on the effin' MOON. We say that in such a matter-of-fact tone of voice. His expedition was carried out with less computing power than what I use to sit here and type a miserable comment.

One of these men has died. We have lost a hero, and the world should be on its knees grieving.

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RIP Neil. I hope your next step is the cosmos.
posted by BlueHorse at 1:40 PM on August 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


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posted by condour75 at 1:42 PM on August 25, 2012



posted by Rufus T. Firefly at 1:42 PM on August 25, 2012


From Neil Gaiman's blog:

I spent a couple of days in Neil Armstrong's company. He was as nice, as modest and as wise as anybody could have hoped for. If you ever wondered what my face looks like when I'm going "This is really happening, and I am the luckiest man in the world," it looks a lot like it does in this photo.

Not bad for a guy who's been the other person in a lot of those photos.
posted by Etrigan at 1:42 PM on August 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


I remember when the gas stations had lunar module cut outs we kids could put together and make our own little lunar module as we watched that first moon landing. It was a time when we thought we could do ANYTHING. I don't know how convey just how during a time when it seemed our nation was coming apart at the seams, that this, THIS event brought us all together, proud of our nation, proud of our astronauts, and ....we thought we could do anything. ANYTHING.


I'm sitting here bawling my eyes out.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:42 PM on August 25, 2012 [8 favorites]



posted by radwolf76 at 1:42 PM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, and .
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:43 PM on August 25, 2012


"It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small."
posted by zaebiz at 1:46 PM on August 25, 2012 [10 favorites]


"Palmer Joss: By doing this, you're willing to give your life, you're willing to die for it. Why?

Ellie Arroway: For as long as I can remember, I've been searching for something, some reason why we're here. What are we doing here? Who are we? If this is a chance to find out even just a little part of that answer... I don't know, I think it's worth a human life. Don't you?"

What a brave man.

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posted by stroke_count at 1:46 PM on August 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


As I remember it, as a preteen, so much of the news was about Vietnam and the related protests. The USA was fragmented and then, for a time, we came together as we landed on the moon.

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posted by Mojojojo at 1:48 PM on August 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Maybe one day we'll live among such men, again.
posted by deCadmus at 1:52 PM on August 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


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posted by illenion at 1:53 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by Bibliogeek at 1:53 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by Snyder at 1:54 PM on August 25, 2012



posted by germdisco at 1:57 PM on August 25, 2012


I remember watching the news on "the day the Earth revolved around the Moon". (Transmissions from the lunar landing were all staticky and punctuated by beeping, which seemed right for TV from another world. Still makes me think the NASA videos from Mars look too slick to be real.)

Neil Armstrong was one of the best of us - not just Americans, humans - and I hope the first person to set foot on Mars cites his famous quote. RIP, first man on the Moon.
posted by Quietgal at 1:59 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by Start with Dessert at 1:59 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by zix at 2:01 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by Bummus at 2:01 PM on August 25, 2012


(
posted by montag2k at 2:01 PM on August 25, 2012



posted by nickyskye at 2:02 PM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]




posted by ariadne's threadspinner at 2:02 PM on August 25, 2012


His legacy will live on.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:05 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by Bonky Moon at 2:07 PM on August 25, 2012



posted by Skygazer at 2:07 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by yuwtze at 2:09 PM on August 25, 2012


Thank you, all of you who have shared extra details or anecdotes. And thank you to Mr. Armstrong, who inspired my imagination as a child.

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posted by sleepinglion at 2:09 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by DakotaPaul at 2:09 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by jabo at 2:10 PM on August 25, 2012


I was thirteen. We had just made the big move from Ohio to Minnesota. So much of my life was changing. Any mention of the moon landing just takes me right back to that summer.

We had both the television and radio blaring that whole week. It was just crazy exciting. As I recall it was several hours between the landing and them climbing out of the capsule and down to the surface of the moon for that momentous first step. The tension and excitement was nearly unbearable.

Thank you so much Eyebrows McGee for linking to Cronkite's coverage. His glee and enthusiasm was so infectious that it just made it all that much more fun for the viewers. When Uncle Walter was on a NASA assignment, you just knew that was noplace in the world he'd rather be. Well, other than in the capsule along for the ride.

Thank you Neal Armstrong for showing what heights we could rise to.

Godspeed.
posted by marsha56 at 2:10 PM on August 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


I was five. It's one of the few things I remember from my childhood.

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posted by localroger at 2:11 PM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


As I child of the sixties, who watched all of the moon missions , all I can say is that I wish my son had such heroes.


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posted by OHenryPacey at 2:13 PM on August 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


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posted by photo guy at 2:14 PM on August 25, 2012


.

I wasn't born yet, so I don't have a firsthand memory of seeing it, but walking on the moon has to be one of the most incredible achievements in history. What a privilege to be that guy.
posted by desjardins at 2:14 PM on August 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I never really thought he would die. I mean, he was Neil Armstrong. There is an emptiness inside me now.
posted by Scientist at 2:15 PM on August 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


The man had huge balls. RIP.
posted by Splunge at 2:15 PM on August 25, 2012


The worst thing about getting older is having to watch all the heroes of your childhood die.
posted by elizardbits at 2:16 PM on August 25, 2012 [11 favorites]


I just... No. I can't face this today, and everything it means to me.

That we not only stopped going to the moon, and never went back, and then stopped the shuttle program, all in his lifetime - that makes the little girl who played with model shuttles and sang silly songs about astronauts who lives inside my memories curl up and cry like the day we lost Challenger. And now I'm crying right along side that memory in my head.

Why did we not go back to the Moon? Why do we only send rovers to Mars? Why couldn't this hero of the early space age see the day that a united (or at least mostly so) Earth sent forth the first man or woman to step onto dusty red soil?

What happened to the dream of space? What happened to the dream of exploration?

I still remember seeing the video of Neil Armstron decking a lunar landing denial nut in front of a crowd of people. That gave me hope.

Godspeed, Neil. Maybe we can get your ashes to Tranquility Base some day.
posted by strixus at 2:17 PM on August 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


Bitter bitter news.

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posted by Purposeful Grimace at 2:18 PM on August 25, 2012


I'm willing to bet mankind's got a few more giant leaps in its future, but thanks for showing us how it's done.
posted by Johann Georg Faust at 2:18 PM on August 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I can't stop crying. This is so sad. I don't have words.
posted by popechunk at 2:18 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by Runes at 2:19 PM on August 25, 2012


I still remember seeing the video of Neil Armstron decking a lunar landing denial nut in front of a crowd of people. That gave me hope.

That was Buzz. Neil Armstrong, in front of a crowd of people?
posted by mcwetboy at 2:19 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by Ber at 2:19 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by Blue Jello Elf at 2:20 PM on August 25, 2012


With great respect

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posted by incandissonance at 2:20 PM on August 25, 2012


No.

I forbid this from being true.

That's how it works, right?
posted by tzikeh at 2:20 PM on August 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


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posted by rikschell at 2:21 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by Outlawyr at 2:22 PM on August 25, 2012


The fact that this man, stepped on the moon and instead of making dumb remark, or even worse, some sort of jingoistic remark about the USA, said something that truly uplifted, and lifted the nation, the whole experiment of America into greatness, as well as the whole world, and the whole of the species, and made the moment transcendent and one of the truly important things that's ever come out of any man's mouth.

I want to live in the country and the planet and the mind-space Armstrong lived in, in his mind...that's an awe-inspiring, infinite and wise and good place.

That's the place mankind needs to never, ever, stop reaching for...

Whatever man evolves towards, I think Armstrong gave it a swift and firm push in the right direction and it's up to people to take up that effort on all fronts.
posted by Skygazer at 2:25 PM on August 25, 2012 [10 favorites]


A gracious soul and a fine human being.



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posted by pdxpogo at 2:28 PM on August 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Armstrong's message of thanks, as Apollo 11 headed home from the Moon.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:28 PM on August 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


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posted by taff at 2:30 PM on August 25, 2012


I hope the first person to set foot on Mars cites his famous quote.

这人的一小步,却为人类是一大跃。

my written Chinese is awful, but the translated quote in zh.wikipedia had no damn poetry at all.

I'm going to have to pay a visit to Rocket Park at Johnson Space Center tomorrow. I bet I won't be the only one.
posted by zjacreman at 2:30 PM on August 25, 2012


He went where no one had gone before, and is now going where we all will eventually. No doubt he will make this mandatory journey an adventure as well.

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posted by smirkette at 2:30 PM on August 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


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posted by sendai sleep master at 2:31 PM on August 25, 2012


Given that I was a big blubbering mess when Curiosity landed a few weeks ago, I can only imagine how much more emotional I would have been watching the moon landing. The sheer amount of awesomeness is almost incomprehensible for someone who didn't live through it.
posted by desjardins at 2:31 PM on August 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


In memory:

Brian Eno - An Ending (Ascent) from Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks .

Colorpulse - Journey To The Moon from the same person who brought you Symphony of Science.
posted by strixus at 2:31 PM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


RIP
. ✨🚀
posted by hanoixan at 2:32 PM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Miss-remembering in grief, mcwetboy. Sorry.
posted by strixus at 2:32 PM on August 25, 2012


I can't think of another human being responsible for inspiring such hope and wonder.
posted by a hat out of hell at 2:34 PM on August 25, 2012


He's responsible for my first memory. I was at my pre-school, and the teacher had all us kids crowd around a small black-and-white television so we could watch the first person walk on the moon.
posted by rtha at 2:35 PM on August 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


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posted by Hartham's Hugging Robots at 2:36 PM on August 25, 2012


Here's a fresh challenge for Elon Musk: to honour Neil Armstrong by ensuring that there is never a point where no human alive has walked upon the moon.

There are now eight of twelve Apollo moonwalkers left; if Musk wants to show what SpaceX can really do, he can aim to land and safely return a human on a lunar mission whilst at least one of those moonwalkers is still alive. The youngest, Charles Duke (LM Pilot, Apollo 16), is 76 and two others are still in their seventies, so statistically he should have a decade or so to achieve this. Seeing as how he's gone in the last decade from Powerpoint presentations to flying return missions to the Space Station it's not beyond the realm of the possible he might manage it.
posted by Major Clanger at 2:38 PM on August 25, 2012 [7 favorites]



posted by Cranberry at 2:40 PM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by ChrisR at 2:41 PM on August 25, 2012


It just occurred to me that Charles Lindbergh, at different periods in his life, met and talked with both Orville Wright and Neil Armstrong. I sure hope somebody who met Armstrong goes on to make the next landmark voyage and keeps the chain intact.
posted by Longtime Listener at 2:41 PM on August 25, 2012 [37 favorites]


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posted by mikurski at 2:43 PM on August 25, 2012


We were on the road, moving from Augusta to Charleston, when the lunar module touched down. I was 5, and in the UHaul with my Dad, while my Mom and my sister followed behind us in the car. We were passing through some tiny South Carolina town that was barely a wide spot in the road when the announcement came over the radio that they had landed. I remember my Dad yelling excitedly out the window, honking the horn and flashing the lights, and all the cars coming toward us doing the same. As we passed on down the highway, it seemed that every oncoming car was flashing their lights too. It's one of the few clear memories I have from that age.

Forever Onward, Mr Armstrong, and thanks..

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posted by ralan at 2:44 PM on August 25, 2012 [14 favorites]


it seems to me that this may have been our peak as a country and as a civilization

it would have been incomprehensible to the 12 year old me that watched this live on television that in 2012, there would be no lunar base, no footprints on mars, no great space stations orbiting the earth, no thousands of people who called outer space home

but that's what happened

and if some of the dire predictions about our future and how we're screwing it up actually happen, our few descendants may regard this as a myth; a wonderful story with no real accessible evidence for it, just another fable dealing with the incomprehensible ruins they find around them and don't know how to explain

let's hope not, but if so ...

here's one small . for neil, one giant . for mankind
posted by pyramid termite at 2:44 PM on August 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


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posted by pmb at 2:45 PM on August 25, 2012


"Go placidly amidst the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence."

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posted by churl at 2:45 PM on August 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


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posted by cashman at 2:46 PM on August 25, 2012


And so it begins... the long slow slide out of living memory.
posted by blue_beetle at 2:47 PM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


OMG, a huge part of my childhood has just died.

i was born in the US, in NYC, but raised in Puerto Rico. we moved when i was 3+ years old. i don't have a lot of memories about life in the US but one of my most vivid memories is of my dad sobbing while holding me as we watched Armstrong walk around the moon.

i was 3 years old when that happened.

my dad woke me up in what i remember looked like the middle of the night. my mom was in her night robe and they had opened the sofa bed. my baby brother, Frank, was still sleeping, looking like a lump of diapers on his pillow.

the apartment smelled of Bustelo coffee and even though i dont remember what they were talking about, my parents sounded giddy with excitement. both had come from utter Puerto Rican poverty --my mom, from the poverty after white indentured servitude and my dad from the poverty after african slavery. so for them to be witnesses to this moment of human history in the comfort of their NYC apartment, after growing up in houses with dirt floors and seeing siblings and kin die of the plagues of poverty, was absofrigginlutely huge.

and it was even more symbolic for them that this happened after the blood-soaked year of 1968. they had met during the Civil Rights Movement and wouldn't see the fruit of their activist labor until a few years later, when the Puerto Rican Amendment to the Voting Rights Act was passed by Congress. they had seen too many of their friends beaten or thrown into jail but '68, with the assassinations of Martin Luther King & Bobby Kennedy. my dad never met MLK but he was actually one of RFK's go-to guys on urban development and civil rights for the East Harlem area.

my mom had already made up her mind about moving back to Puerto Rico after the horrible events of '68; but whenever i talked with the 'rents about the Moon Landing day, they always sounded like it gave them a renewed hope. my parents were self educated people and we always had books & magazines around the house about science. sure, it was stuff like National Geographic, but the fact they could hope a future in which their kids could have the right to choose to be astronauts... well, that was big.

and that's what i remember most vividly about my dad on that day: it was the first time he had said to me, "you know, you could one day become an astronaut". there was no hesitation, no "well youre a black/puertorican/woman". at no point, until the day he couldn't speak anymore, did my father say, "you can't be/do that".

supposedly 500 million people saw that Lunar landing worldwide. beside the bouncing images of Armstrong on our little black & white TV, the most important memory i have of that day is that the sky, the Moon and space were only the limits to the opportunities i could have.

thanks Neil Armstrong, for history and being such an awesome inspiration to my parents.






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posted by liza at 2:48 PM on August 25, 2012 [77 favorites]


(||||

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posted by Phyllis Harmonic at 2:50 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by jepler at 2:51 PM on August 25, 2012


Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine. Et lux perpetua luceat ei. Requiescat in pace.

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posted by ob1quixote at 2:53 PM on August 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


*sigh* correction: "they had seen too many of their friends beaten or thrown into jail but '68, with the assassinations of Martin Luther King & Bobby Kennedy had been too much. my mom just feared for our safety."
posted by liza at 2:53 PM on August 25, 2012


When I read the Armstrong biography a couple of years ago, I was stunned to read that he had arranged (with the Smithsonian) to take a chunk of the wooden prop, and a small piece of the wing tarp from the original Wright flyer to the moon and back. I cried when I read this, it was pure poetry to my mind. This man, and his fellow astronauts, had balls the size of aircraft carriers, to appreciate what they accomplished, the crude technology that got them to the moon and back, it truly, absolutely staggers my mind.

The first human to step foot on another celestial body has left this one. The definition of history, all in my lifetime. I am humbled. Safe journey to you, Neil Armstrong, a true American - and human - hero.


posted by dbiedny at 2:54 PM on August 25, 2012 [14 favorites]


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posted by edmcbride at 2:54 PM on August 25, 2012


If I may dirty this thread by quoting Dumbledore: "To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure."

Neil Armstrong's mind was about as well-organized as one could ever hope theirs to be.

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posted by Navelgazer at 2:54 PM on August 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


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posted by tonycpsu at 2:54 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by madcaptenor at 2:56 PM on August 25, 2012


One giant loss for mankind.
posted by Bonzai at 3:00 PM on August 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


Among my earliest memories are watching space launches on TV. I was six when this great man first set foot on the moon, and I remember my dad keeping me up well past my bedtime to watch this. I am distressed to think that we may never again in my lifetime see another human being set foot on an extraterretrial surface.

Godspeed, sir.

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posted by zoog at 3:01 PM on August 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


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posted by Osrinith at 3:01 PM on August 25, 2012


posted by liza at 16:48 on 8/25
[4 favorites −] Favorite added! [Flagged]


Someone put this in the sidebar, please; it's one of the most complete stories about America I can remember reading.
posted by samofidelis at 3:03 PM on August 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


*****
* / \ *
* | | *
*/ | \*
*****
O****
.****
posted by JoeXIII007 at 3:05 PM on August 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


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posted by chemoboy at 3:06 PM on August 25, 2012


From Neil deGrasse Tyson:

Neil Armstrong (1930-2012) was not entirely human. He was the spiritual repository of our spacefaring dreams & ambitions. In death, a little bit of us all dies with him. Farewell my friend. And now, perhaps more than ever, I bid you godspeed.
posted by Capt. Renault at 3:07 PM on August 25, 2012 [13 favorites]


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posted by runincircles at 3:07 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by DingoMutt at 3:10 PM on August 25, 2012


I have been told that my parents propped infant me in front of the television in July of 1969 to watch history being made. Rest in peace, sir, and may we one day again have a space program worthy of the name, and home to heroic figures such as you.

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posted by booksherpa at 3:11 PM on August 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


. . . . . .
posted by a non e mouse at 3:11 PM on August 25, 2012


His name won't be forgotten.
posted by ersatz at 3:16 PM on August 25, 2012


The only person of whom I've truly been jealous. Thank you for having been existed.

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posted by cihan at 3:16 PM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


When the local news just now led off with footage of Apollo 11, I thought for a second that it was the anniversary of the landing, but quickly realized that would have been a month ago. My immediate next thought was oh, no, don't tell me Neil Armstrong has died. When my fears were confirmed, I immediately thought of the XKCD that stevis23 linked to; I guess we have moved another notch down on the graph.

I can barely remember watching the moon landing at 5 years of age, in a new house in a new city, on my parents' little black and white TV with rabbit ears. Despite the upheavals of that era, there was still a lot of optimism in the air that seems gone today, and the space program was a big part of it, at least for me. Or perhaps that is just me being melancholy for a childhood that was more idyllic than I appreciated at the time.

Godspeed, indeed

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posted by TedW at 3:17 PM on August 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


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posted by raeka at 3:17 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by newdaddy at 3:18 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by Melee Loaf at 3:19 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by Just this guy, y'know at 3:20 PM on August 25, 2012


Transcript, films & audio clips from Neil Armstrong's walk on the moon.

We could walk forever
Walkin' on the moon

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posted by chavenet at 3:22 PM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by Oh OK HA HA at 3:22 PM on August 25, 2012


One giant leap for this motherfucker.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 3:26 PM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by stoneegg21 at 3:27 PM on August 25, 2012



posted by bz at 3:30 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by b_alex_a at 3:33 PM on August 25, 2012


"High Flight" could have been written for Neil Armstrong:

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 --- I've wheeled and soared and swung
high in the sunlit silence. Hovering there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eagar 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 ever eagle flew ---
And while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

-John Gillespie Magee (1922-1941)
posted by easily confused at 3:34 PM on August 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


.

This hurt me more than I might have expected. I also note that it once again brings everyone together in a similar way to events before I was born. My heart goes out to everyone who knew him, and everyone that witnessed that truly incredible moment. By making our reach greater he made the distance between us all smaller.
posted by edd at 3:34 PM on August 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


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posted by Thorzdad at 3:35 PM on August 25, 2012




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posted by rmd1023 at 3:39 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by Malice at 3:40 PM on August 25, 2012


It's true, everybody dies. But it's rare to lose anybody who will live on in human memory forever. That is the fate of the first man to walk on the moon.

Goodbye, Neil A. Armstrong. You will never be forgotten.


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posted by crossoverman at 3:43 PM on August 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Hooray for Neil Armstrong and his ilk. He might be the last real hero. For sure we will never have a real hero again after the people soon pass who didn't create a digital trail of their youthful stupidity. Re: Neil Young; when I heard this on the radio my first thought with the Neil + the obituary voice was it's Neil Young and I was really sad. But then thirty seconds later I finally registered Neil Armstrong and I was really even sadder.

"That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind."

Indeed.

Do you think we will live to see it again?
posted by bukvich at 3:44 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by epilnivek at 3:45 PM on August 25, 2012


"For every human being who looks up at the moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind."

Bears repeating, I feel.

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posted by NordyneDefenceDynamics at 3:50 PM on August 25, 2012


Armstrong's only other spaceflight was Gemini 8. On that mission, he performed the world's first space docking. Later, when the docked spacecrafts begin spinning out of control, Armstrong kept his cool and tried everything in the book to stop the spinning. When none of that worked, he turned on thrusters reserved for reentry and that fixed the problem.

That was an extremely close call. He and copilot Dave Scott were closed to blacking out and had they done so, they would have died, in space. The reason for their death would have been a mystery, as the problems occurred when they are out of contact with Mission Control, so no one knew they were in trouble until the spacecraft flew back into a prearranged communication zone.

Since Armstrong has activated thrusters reserved for reentry, the mission was aborted and the crew returned to Earth after only 10 hours in space. But they came home, thanks to Armstrong's thinking, while spinning out of control and close to blacking out. The guy was steady under pressure, no question.

Before NASA, Armstrong had gone to college under the Holloway Plan, which involved going to school for two years, serving 3 years in the Navy, then returning to finish out the remaining two years. He saw action in North Korea and after graduating college, became a test pilot out at Edwards Air Force base. He flew with Chuck Yeager and was known for being intensely private and having a very sharp mind. It was said that he wasn't the world's best pilot, and certainly not the worst, but he had a firm grasp of how engineering affected aircraft, which served him well as a test pilot.

I've read a lot about spaceflight, the Gemini and Apollo programs and even Armstrong's authorized biography First Man. Nobody ever said anything bad about Neil Armstrong.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:51 PM on August 25, 2012 [31 favorites]


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posted by Smart Dalek at 3:51 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by hot_monster at 3:51 PM on August 25, 2012


He's responsible for my first memory. I was at my pre-school, and the teacher had all us kids crowd around a small black-and-white television so we could watch the first person walk on the moon.

Likewise. I was two years old and up at the cottage with my parents. The cottage was one of a dozen or so little places with a central snack bar/tuck shop. The snack bar had the only TV and I recall a crowd of adults watching murky black and white images with excitement, and later, my dad lifting me up and pointing at the moon and explaining it all to me.

Armstrong did something that inspired billions, and then went back to a quiet life. The word hero is overused, but there is no one who deserves it more.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:52 PM on August 25, 2012


Gagarin and Armstrong, bro-fist beyond space and time.
posted by Slackermagee at 3:53 PM on August 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


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posted by valdesm at 3:54 PM on August 25, 2012


Should have avoided the knife.

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posted by wrapper at 3:55 PM on August 25, 2012


Apollo 11, July 1969. No other act of human exploration ever laid a plaque saying "We Come In Peace For All Mankind"
posted by gwint at 3:58 PM on August 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


[Beep].....


....Houston...[Beep]...snif...we err...[Beep]...we seem to have a problem...[Beep]...We...uh...[Beep] we seem to [Beep]...to...[Beep]...have lost a great man today...[Beep] snif...[Beep]..and we're running out of great ones...[Beep] to look up too...[Beep]...this year...

Houston Control: Uh...roger that...[Beep]snif.......copy..copy....[Beep]...steady on...[Beep]...steady onward and upward....snif...[Beep]...


[Beep]


[Beep]


[Beep]


[Beep]



[Beep]....

posted by Skygazer at 3:59 PM on August 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


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posted by humanfont at 4:00 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by graymouser at 4:02 PM on August 25, 2012


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a better choice of heroes than that other Armstrong.
posted by philip-random at 4:02 PM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by LobsterMitten at 4:02 PM on August 25, 2012


Dammit, he was a true hero.

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posted by dabug at 4:03 PM on August 25, 2012


As a photo geek, I love this Hasselblad shot from the Apollo 11 mission: first lens flare on the moon! Not sure if Neil Armstrong or Buzz Aldrin took it, but I'd bet Armstrong, considering he took most of the decent shots on the surface. (I love lens flare btw, even if it's not intentional.)

There are lots more scans of film shots from all the Apollo missions here. Looking forward to having time to go through them.

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posted by lisa g at 4:06 PM on August 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


... and oh yeah, a song for the rest of us
posted by philip-random at 4:07 PM on August 25, 2012


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for many years, i thought my first memory was of watching the first moon landing on a staticky black and white twelve inch TV late at night in a suburb of Santiago, Chile called Viña del Mar. It's not, but it's close to it. Basically, I have been looking up at this man my whole life.

A few years ago, he made a scheduled guest-of-honor appearance at a Museum of Flight members dinner which I did not attend due to ignorance of this fact. At the dinner, my understanding is that he did a handshake reception including grip-and-grin photo ops.

I scrutinize the upcoming events in my newsletter with careful rigor now.
posted by mwhybark at 4:13 PM on August 25, 2012


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What a crappy bit of news to wake too.
posted by Mezentian at 4:14 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by NoraCharles at 4:15 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by gusandrews at 4:17 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by Stephanie Duy at 4:22 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by Z303 at 4:23 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by wiskunde at 4:24 PM on August 25, 2012


Barely a month after Ride's death too.

I always feel like the Earth would be a much better place if we could all see it from space, and realize how we all share such a tiny dot floating in the vastness of space.

Oh, but enough quaint idealistic silliness, the political conventions are right around the corner!
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 4:26 PM on August 25, 2012


When I saw the NY Times front page from 1969 linked earlier today, my first thought was that they left off the words "Holy Crap!" before the rest of the headline "Men Walk on the Moon".

A momentous achievement, RIP Neil.
posted by TwoWordReview at 4:28 PM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Longtime Listener: It just occurred to me that Charles Lindbergh, at different periods in his life, met and talked with both Orville Wright and Neil Armstrong.

This was news to me. Apparently both Lindbergh and Armstrong were members of ye Anciente and Secret Order of Quiet Birdmen.

Here's Orville Wright, Major John F. Curry, and Colonel Charles Lindbergh; seems that Wright and Lindbergh were friends, not just acquaintances.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:28 PM on August 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


This makes me very sad. Very, very sad. Mr. Armstrong was my first hero, and I really mean that. I have more now. We already lost one recently, Mr. Hitchens, and Mr. Sagan way back in '96. If Mr. Fry and Mr. Dawkins and Mr. Tyson go before I meet them, I'll just give the fuck up and go live on a boat.

I really don't know what to say. Mr. Tyson's quote mentioned above kinda gets at it. Spiritual repository, indeed. Sometimes....gah. Crying. Sometimes there are these people, that just.....I like to think of it sort of like Neil Gaman's American Gods. There are some people that are the avatar, the person embodiment of a concept or thing. Mr. Armstrong was this symbol to me, the gestalt representation of the best moment in American history, and my favorite in human history. He represented NASA and the memories I have of looking at smart people, intense and concentrating, reaching to expand the reach of our species. He represented all the triumphs and failures. For me, he was just this symbolic vessel that filled up with my very young self's love and admiration for space exploration.

Of course, he was a humble and.....measured person. He bought a farm, later. Raised corn, and cattle. It's almost like....you know, sometimes there are people that do this huge sucessful thing. And they, very rightly, use that renoun and fame to go do another huge thing, or attempt one. Or parlay their previous success into something else.

Mr. Armstong did the biggest thing you can do. And he knew it, I think. What else could he do that tops being the first to walk on the moon? And after that mother fucking landing.

About 1/5th of the goddamn population of the planet watched and listened to the landing, the largest audience for anything in history. People driving pulled off the highway and checked into a hotel just to watch the thing. And oh man, were they ever rewarded.

From the book Rocket Men:

This was considered the most difficult piloting job ever: flying a craft different from anything ever built, using controls devised from scratch, in one-sixth gravity, with no atmosphere, on a landscape whose features weren't known, and only enough fuel for one attempt.


Most difficult ever? Uh, ya think?

Another commenter on a board summed up my favorite part about this landing perfectly:

"...when the craft was a couple thousand feet above the surface, Neil saw that the computer was taking them into a large crater full of boulders. This was because of a small malfunction when undocking from the Command Module. A small amount of air had been left in the docking collar between the two, which ended up exerting a small force on the LM during undocking, increasing their speed beyond what was expected. This meant they overshot their intended landing site by about 4 miles, leading them directly towards the stadium sized, boulder filled crater.

Neil noticed this and engaged the manual controls so he could steer the craft to a safe destination. There wasn't one immediately available, so he ended up flying nearly horizontally over the moon, looking for a good landing spot. This scared the daylights out of the people at Mission Control. The LM wasn't supposed to fly like that. It had never even been flown like that in any of the simulations. As he did this, the fuel started to become perilously low. Mission Control was on edge, but helpless, with the room becoming completely silent except for fuel read outs. The LM ended up landing with only 15 seconds worth of fuel left. They were supposed to land before even getting down to 60.

Despite the increased initial speed, and the minuscule amount of fuel remaining, Neil still landed the LM so gently the shock absorbers on the legs didn't deploy and compress. He was just that good a pilot."

I mean, the guy was, in my opinion, the most versatile and talented human pilot to every fly. And he was a scientist and a professor and an engineer. And gentle, humble, and goddamn fearless. I just can't believe he is gone.

Goodbye, sir. I'm so deeply sorry that our national will to earn your courage fizzled out. That we don't have 5,000 rockets and shuttles, all designated NA-323 or BA-166 or MC-008, all constantly departing and arriving Earth. Filled with thousands of engineers and scientists and pilots and poets and astrophysicists and astronomers and biologists, all nodding to your footprints as they resupply Armstrong Base Alpha in the Sea of Tranquility. I miss you, and all the things you represented to me and others like me. You will never be forgotten, and August 25th just became the day I will always raise a glass to you, and think of what you did for us all.

Goddamnit.

Goodbye.
posted by lazaruslong at 4:30 PM on August 25, 2012 [29 favorites]



posted by synecdoche at 4:32 PM on August 25, 2012


RIP, sir.
posted by penduluum at 4:36 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by sarcasticah at 4:41 PM on August 25, 2012


Am I crazy or does that headline read 'Astronaut Neil Young'?

NBC News Mistakenly Reports the Death of 'Astronaut Neil Young'
posted by homunculus at 4:41 PM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Somehow I never made the historical connection until today -- Armstrong retired from serving his nation to a brief academic career followed by life on a small farm named for the Roman Cincinnatus.
posted by samofidelis at 4:44 PM on August 25, 2012 [8 favorites]


I also love listening to him speak about his experiences from back then. He's so smart, and articulate, and satisfying to listen to.
posted by lazaruslong at 4:47 PM on August 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


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posted by Defying Gravity at 4:48 PM on August 25, 2012


Like many of you, Apollo 11 is one of my earliest memories.

09:44:09 Armstrong: Isn't it fine?

[Journal Contributor Harald Kucharek calls attention to a comment on page 241 in Buzz's book Men from Earth: "We were both in the sun again, our helmets close together. Neil leaned toward me and clapped his gloved hand on my shoulder. 'Isn't it fun?' he said." Although the audio is certainly open to interpretation, the context seems to favor "Isn't it fine?". It doesn't appear from the TV that either Neil or Buzz is sunlit at this point.]


I prefer to think that Armstrong asked, "Isn't it fun?"
posted by grimjeer at 4:50 PM on August 25, 2012


He was so certain we would have permanent bases on the moon within his lifetime in that interview. Breaks my fucking heart.
posted by lazaruslong at 4:50 PM on August 25, 2012


Hmm. Prone to crying to obit threads as I am, this still surprises me. Dang.

I was... 3? And I do remember, have always remembered I think, being taken outside and my parents pointing at the moon and saying "There's a man up there!"

It's not likely that I am actually remembering that first one, moon landings were always a big deal- allowed to stay up late for all sorts of space events, as others also relate- but I'm keeping it anyway.

Don't think anybody else posted this - last breakfast on earth before the moon shot - but for some reason I love it. Just this ordinary guy, eating the same thing he always did, punching in to work and going to THE FUCKING MOON, because that's the sort of thing people did in those days. I hope that that can be true again, and I hope I'm around to see it.
posted by hap_hazard at 4:51 PM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by Foosnark at 4:57 PM on August 25, 2012


6/20/1969

Dear Neil,

I am writing you this from 2012 hoping to reach you in time. I know you are scheduled for this mission real soon. I know what why you are doing it. I'm aware of the necessity for the advancement of mankind you feel your upcoming mission to be. I know you humbly accept your role in this, this, most important step for Mankind to accept its place in the stars. You know the risk, how high; the chance of success, how small. You know you will likely sacrifice and you are willing, willing with a bravery that is outside any I could ever have for any cause regardless how noble. You know you must. You know why. You know.

But I have an important message to send you from the future: Don't bother. We failed you. We failed you bad.

You see, the whole reason you're doing this, that which logically will follow, all you assume will--no, MUST--come next--doesn't. At all. Not even close.

You expected in a decade or so, because of what you put on the line, what you were willing to give up, we would just be on the moon like, all the time. Afterwards we'd pretty much just make ourselves comfy and at home in the rest of the solar system and by now we'd be turning our attention to the stars. Of course.

I don't know how it happened. I don't know why it happened. I'm not sure who's to blame. NASA has a budget less than 1 1/2% of the military. The people who can most help to fund this stuff?--do they invest in humanity and bankroll missions and research? Nope. They invest whatever they need to to hoard it and make sure we can't get our hands on the money to do this again. I don't know what they're doing with all that money, but as long as they have it all we're pretty much stuck here. You know those engineers and scientists and mathematicians who got you there? Nowadays, people are considered untrustworthy or bad for pursuing those interests or developing those skills. Our leaders actually publicly speak about how unimportant education is and how it gets too much funding. For real. Fucked up, right? As long as that continues, all of humanity will die on this rock.

So please: don't risk your neck for us. We don't deserve it. Sure, we're grateful and forever in your debt, but we'll just squander your gifts. Stay home. Put on some PJs. Pop some corn and watch some TV with the family. Star Trek is on. I'm sure you'll get a kick out of it.

With loving regret,
Sourwookie
posted by sourwookie at 4:58 PM on August 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


Goodnight Moon, Goodnight Mr. Armstrong. Godspeed. You helped me dream.
posted by Divine_Wino at 4:58 PM on August 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


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Mrs Groweler is actually named after him. Had she been born a boy her Dad says should would have been Neil.
posted by mrgroweler at 4:59 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by sappidus at 5:00 PM on August 25, 2012


Mare Tranquillitatis
posted by sourwookie at 5:02 PM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


How long will it be until we no longer have anyone left who has walked on the surface of the moon?

Within the next 5 years probably. 12 men walked on the moon. 4 of them have died and the rest are in their late 70s or early 80s.


Actually, that's really unlikely. The astronauts are from 77 to 82 years old. The life expectancy for an 82-year old is 8.31 years, and for a 77-year old it's 11.26 years old. So all eight of the remaining men who walked on the moon have a life expectancy of more than five years. Add to that the fact that these guys have many of the signs of people who will outlive their typical life expectancy - higher education, access to excellent healthcare, good incomes (and so on) - and adding that they probably don't engage in too many reckless behaviors, and I think you can assume an average of at least 10 years more for them.

I've forgotten my gymnasium statistics, but I would place a bet that at least one of these guys has 15 - 20 years of life left.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 5:05 PM on August 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


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posted by tribalspice at 5:06 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by Glibpaxman at 5:10 PM on August 25, 2012


Another fine picture, courtesy of everybody's pals over at If Charlie Parker was a Gunslinger .
posted by hap_hazard at 5:17 PM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I hope that when the first manned mission leaves for Mars, there is a small vial of Mr. Armstrong's ashes sent along with the lander.
posted by azpenguin at 5:17 PM on August 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


hap_hazard: "Another fine picture, courtesy of everybody's pals over at If Charlie Parker was a Gunslinger ."

"He thinks, he acts, 'tis done."
posted by lazaruslong at 5:22 PM on August 25, 2012


NBC news reports "Hey hey my my - Neil Arm Strong will never die"
posted by Edward L at 5:24 PM on August 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


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I was a 14 year old gawky girl geek when Neil Armstrong, a fellow Buckeye, took that first step. My parents had a b&w television and my large family crowded around, adjusting the rabbit ears while my dad kept telling us to be quiet, dammit, this was history. My mother cried and we all cheered and my dad took a Polaroid picture of the television screen. I am looking at the photograph right now-the blue tube of the screen with a blurred image of a man stepping off from a Midwestern beginning into a Universal future. It seemed like we could do anything then...
posted by Isadorady at 5:36 PM on August 25, 2012 [12 favorites]


The LM ended up landing with only 15 seconds worth of fuel left.

That's a common thought, but post flight analysis revealed he probably had about 50 seconds of fuel left. That's just a minor note thought, as everyone at the time thought they only 15-30 seconds worth of fuel left.

What's amazing though is that Armstrong wasn't worried. Here's what he said about it, from his biography:
"Typically in the LLTV it wasn't unusual to land with fifteen seconds left of fuel-we did it all the time. It looked to me like everything was manageable. It would have been nice if I'd had another minute of fuel to fiddle around a little bit longer. I knew we were getting short; I knew we had to get it on then ground, and I knew we had to get it below fifty feet. But I wasn't panic stricken about the fuel"

.....

"I don't know if there's any way to know how much fuel was left. The fuel tank bottom was spherical, and it's very difficul to have any kind of a quantity measuring system in the bottom of a spherical surface. It's very difficult to know how much was in there, particularly if the fluid in there was wandering around. The port was supposed to tell us at typical thrust settings when we would have about thirty seconds of fuel left. I don't know how accurate that was; if there was sloshing, you wouldn't know whether that light went on too early or too late.

"The important thing was that we were close enough to the surface that it didn't really matter. we wouldn't have lost our attitude control if we had run out of fuel. The engine would have quit but, from the distance we were at, we would have settled to the ground safely enough."
I can't find the quote, but somewhere he said would have been ok with letting the Lunar Module drop from 50 feet or less. I'm guessing it was part of that engineering mind of his, where he figured the weight of the LM in the 1/6 gravity of the moon could have handled such a drop.

Don't think anybody else posted this - last breakfast on earth before the moon shot

Nah, he wouldn't be wearing a tie on the day they launched. Here's a photo of the crew at breakfast on launch day. Check out the rest of the photos from that page, it's from Big Picture's Remembering Apollo 11, several good photos of Armstrong training.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:41 PM on August 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


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posted by Lina Lamont at 5:42 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by genehack at 5:46 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by TrialByMedia at 6:00 PM on August 25, 2012


We raised a few glasses for Neil Armstrong tonight here in Scotland. I deeply hope that the first manned landing on Mars is called Armstrong Landing, it would be fitting.

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posted by Happy Dave at 6:07 PM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


*
posted by dejah420 at 6:09 PM on August 25, 2012


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The most beautiful thing about the Moon landing is that not only did we do it, there is no doubt in my mind that we sent our most human up there to do it as well.

Thanks, Neil.
posted by pinacotheca at 6:12 PM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


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My Grandfather [mom's side] had the only TV in is apartment building in 1969 Bombay. The family and all the other tenants practically crowded around it and he photographed the TV screen when the moon landing occurred.

I wasn't there but I got to see the photograph.

I hope I can see a Mars landing someday...
posted by Renoroc at 6:14 PM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


May the Earth rest lightly on you. As light as you stepped up there.
posted by _dario at 6:18 PM on August 25, 2012


Sad thing to wake up to this morning.

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posted by snwod at 6:18 PM on August 25, 2012


This is my favorite photo of him: with Aldrin and Collins in Mexico City wearing sombreros and ponchos a few days after landing back on earth. They look happy. The world was happy.

Godspeed, Mr. Armstrong.
posted by omegar at 6:24 PM on August 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


🌝
posted by zengargoyle at 6:25 PM on August 25, 2012


I was born after the Moon landings. I have no marker, as so many of you do, of a time before man was on the Moon, and after. For me, that Neil Armstrong was the first man on the Moon was just one of those established facts of history, that package of how the world is defined and given to you when you are born. Neil Armstrong has always taken that first step, the Colosseum has always stood, there has always been baseball.

Of course, it is possible to conceive of a time before Shakespeare, of a time before the Pyramids. Of course there was a time when man had not yet been on the Moon. But that is a different world from the one you know, where these things have always been. And because they have always been there, there is the sense that they will last forever. There has been no world you know without an Eiffel Tower in it, and why should that change? Yankee Stadium has always been there, and why should that change? Neil Armstrong has always been history walking among us, and while he’s just a man, he’s been touched by history, and made eternal.

A few years ago, I visited the Neil Armstrong Museum in his hometown of Wapakoneta, Ohio. The museum is well-loved, if a bit tired. All sorts of artefacts, from his backup flight suits, to a Gemini capsule, to childhood drawings. This all pre-dates my own existence, it is all part of that inheritance of birth. I have no direct connection with this part of history. When dealing with the Moon landings, there’s always a sense that I only just missed a really good party – I would have loved it, they say. But still, walking around, seeing these unused food rations and beaming report cards, they’re all connected to a man. That man could come walking around the corner at any moment.

And now he never will. What was for me, for everyone born after the fact, history, has become just that bit more remote. There is no living person to connect that marker of time with.

I’ve been trying to think of single moments in history which are positive for the whole of mankind, and there aren’t too many. Alexander Graham Bell calling for his assistant? The moment the paint dried on van Gogh’s Irises? Prometheus stealing fire from the gods? An event like the flight at Kitty Hawk or the Tennis Court Oath is rare enough, but all the more so when it is identified with just one person.

Neil was that person. He was that man. The achievement of man walking on the Moon was nothing if not a group effort, but it was Neil who wound up at the very top of that pyramid, the focus of all that effort.

In his famous words, Neil did not identify himself. He did not refer to ‘I’ or ‘me’. He called himself ‘a man’. The importance of the moment, which Neil knew, was the leap for mankind.

It takes a very special man to have recognized that, and to yield to it.

Godspeed, sir.
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:27 PM on August 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


I was only a year and a half old at the time, but I grew up inspired by the Apollo program (my grandfather was an engineer who worked on parts of the LEM) and to this day, looking at the moon always brings to mind the fact that they were there, followed by the thought that I should have been able to be there too, by now.

It's especially sad for me, looking at my son, who knows little of these things, and whose fantasies and imagination are so bereft of thoughts of going to space. As possible as it seemed to me at his age, he sees it as pure movie fiction.

Goodbye, Mr. Armstrong.

Thank you for the inspiration, and sorry we couldn't do more with it than we have.

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posted by bashos_frog at 6:27 PM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can't think of a better representative of the century of my birth.

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posted by davidjmcgee at 6:38 PM on August 25, 2012


I was just a baby when the landing happened, so have no memory of it... but I do remember being a kid in the mid-'70s and seeing a poster of all the different Apollo astronauts on a friend's wall, and we discussed in that way that only 6-year-olds can discuss what we would like to do when we got to take our first trip to the moon. Because after all, if a few people could travel there, then we all could, couldn't we?

My friend's big sister came by and overheard us, and -- in that way that only 10-year-olds can -- somberly informed us that, actually, we wouldn't be going to the moon; these were special missions, and it took special people to get to go. I remember being angry and sad and disappointed that I wasn't going to be able to take a trip, but then looking back at the pictures of the Apollo astronauts, and still feeling this odd sense of wonder and gladness that at least they'd been special enough to go, and to find a way to show us all what they'd seen.

Safe passage, Mr. Armstrong.
posted by scody at 6:40 PM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Actually, I take it back: when humans look back on the second millennium B.C.E. Neil Armstrong will be the last name to be forgotten. I'd bank on it.
posted by davidjmcgee at 6:45 PM on August 25, 2012


Shit. I take THAT one back too. When humans are gone, and the next intelligent civilization rises, or comes from elsewhere, I think the name THEY'LL all know is Neil Fucking Armstrong.

This one's hitting me really hard. Thank you, Neil. Thank you.
posted by davidjmcgee at 6:49 PM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nah, he wouldn't be wearing a tie on the day they launched

Touche sir! Actually, right after I posted, I wondered if he'd really be eating (apparently) fried chicken and um ostrich eggs that day? Seriously I don't know what he's eating there but good on him. Thanks for the Big Picture link, they're always great.

How about Mr Armstrong in that same hideous kitchen serving some pizza?
posted by hap_hazard at 6:53 PM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Retelling a story I told in a comment in another thread -

One of my old bosses told me this story. This was in the mid-90's, when there was a type of childrens' snow boot that was unofficially known as "moon boots"; his three-year-old had a pair and was quite proud of them.

At some point his whole family was at some kind of house party in Ohio, with his wife's family, and his kids were the only young'uns at the party and were reveling in the attention from new grown-ups. His three-year-old became especially fond of one guest in particular -- Neil Armstrong. Erin didn't have any conception of who he was, she was just responding to his good nature.

And at some point, my boss said Erin excitedly dragged him over to the hall saying she wanted to show him something. "Look!" she said, pointing proudly. "I have moon boots!"

According to my boss, Neil just laughed, then leaned down to her with a grin and said, "I have a pair of moon boots at home too."


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posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:54 PM on August 25, 2012 [41 favorites]


. There should be mandatory state funerals for all astronauts. Another hero of mine gone too soon.
posted by arcticseal at 7:04 PM on August 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I may be the biggest misanthrope the world has ever seen. Some people are nice, but I loathe humanity. Does it ever seem as if a turn doesn't go by that we don't take the most self-serving ways? Wars for profit. Extermination of entire peoples for land or other resources, or just because THEY are less than US.

It seems as if presented with a choice we always chose the least noble, "Should we keep regulation on the banking system and have a stable economy? Or should we use all this money to lobby Congress to remove those regulations so we can profit fast and loose and just trust that the economy will stay solvent? Let's go lobby! High profits for us, fuck the rest of you!"

But those moments when those Saturn rockets went into space, and later it was those Shuttles, I cried like a child. Because people could work together to do something good, we could do something that would benefit us all, forever. Sure, we built a Great Wall, and we piled some stones in the desert in the shape of pyramids, but they pale in comparison to our greatest achievement: We walked on the Moon.

We became primates 85 million years ago, and we used stone tools 2.3 million years ago, for all we know under that same Moon. And 43 years ago, last month, we walked on that son of a bitch. Neil did the walking, but we were all there. Even if you weren't born yet, you were there.

And today, above us, the Space Station watches us shoot each other on streets, or in movie theaters, or in schools... It watches us torture each other for photos we can send home. It watches us destroy skyscrapers, and it watches us ignore the starving. It hurtles across the sky, visible to the naked eye, challenging us to just look up. Look at it, goddamn it. We could be great.
posted by CarlRossi at 7:04 PM on August 25, 2012 [16 favorites]


That's one small . for a man. It was still one giant leap for mankind.
posted by Gelatin at 7:09 PM on August 25, 2012


Dammit I'm getting tired of getting weepy and I'd rather be excoriating hipster bands or something than getting depressed about the world, and feeling like I need to personally need to apologize to everybody younger than me for letting things get this way.

But this-
A memorial plaque, attached to a leg of the Lunar Module. The plaque reads: "Here Men From The Planet Earth First Set Foot Upon the Moon, July 1969 A.D. We Came in Peace For All Mankind."

really set me off. I mean, yeah, the whole thing was sort of designed to be a propaganda victory- something as awesome as being able to blow up the whole fucking world, but that you could actually, you know, *brag about* in good conscience.

But we did that, and left that plaque- bragging on behalf of the whole planet- and even if it might have been disingenuous on some level, you know what, who fucking cares. We sent this guy to the moon, he made it there, he made it clear he was doing it for (re the thread above) everybody, be they in a small town in Oregon, or in Bombay, in East Harlem via Puerto Rico, in Santiago, for fucking everybody, somehow, and it meant something to a whole bunch of us.

And I'm not crying now because that's awesome, although it literally is, but because I don't think it would happen these days, and that's um the fucking opposite.
posted by hap_hazard at 7:10 PM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Tonight I showed my mom the ISS as it flew overhead, then I broke out the telescope and looked at the Moon.
posted by dirigibleman at 7:10 PM on August 25, 2012 [2 favorites]



posted by Guy Smiley at 7:11 PM on August 25, 2012


doh
posted by hap_hazard at 7:12 PM on August 25, 2012


7/20/69 was the night before I went away to camp for the first time - a shy 13 y.o. nerd's own small first step. I was nervous, probably should've been to bed early. But there was a helluva distraction.

I have not traveled a lot in my life. But I have been to Houston and JSC, you betcha. And last year, I again stepped out of my comfort zone to fly to a NASASocial event at KSC.

I am awed just to have been in the cathedral of the VAB, and driven by Launchpad 39A.

Yes, I am a homebody myself, an artist, a traveler of the imagination. But I believe we as a species need to dream big, explore, discover, seek great adventure.

We need to challenge ourselves to see what's on the other side of "here be dragons."

As Chrissie Hynde said: "We are all of us in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars."

And some, like Neil, did more than just look.
posted by NorthernLite at 7:14 PM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah.



Thanks, Neil.

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posted by Artful Codger at 7:14 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by griffey at 7:15 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by mkim at 7:17 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by treepour at 7:20 PM on August 25, 2012


Ok, this just became my favorite Armstrong quote:
"I am, and ever will be, a white-socks, pocket-protector nerdy engineer. And I take substantial pride in the accomplishments of my profession."
-From the February 2000 address to the National Press Club honoring the Top 20 Engineering Achievements of the Twentieth Century.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:20 PM on August 25, 2012 [12 favorites]


The close of another chapter and we are another step removed from a time when we did things because they were hard.

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posted by mce at 7:24 PM on August 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


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I know that nostalgia is just infatuation with an illusion, that there never was a 'golden age'. Yet I can't help but think that we're all...smaller...nowadays, and that we will not see their like again. Godspeed, Mr. Armstrong.
posted by bitmage at 7:32 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by Ghidorah at 7:33 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 7:57 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by weathergal at 7:57 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by postcommunism at 7:59 PM on August 25, 2012


The coolest episode of 'I've Got A Secret' was the episode where a mild-mannered couple's secret was their son, Neil, had recently been one of those selected to go into space. His name was entirely unknown at that time, but less than a decade later he would become one of the biggest American icons of the twentieth century (and all-time).

R.I.P.
posted by Mael Oui at 8:01 PM on August 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


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posted by sammyo at 8:06 PM on August 25, 2012


Thank you, Mr. Armstrong.

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posted by carter at 8:10 PM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


An acquaintance actually posted "or did they?" on a facebook post of mine linking to that Big Picture spread, followed up by an update about how the 'greatest actor that ever lived died today'. Rage, a bunch of responses typed then deleted, and the unfriend button hit instead. no time for that nonsense, especially today.
posted by lazaruslong at 8:12 PM on August 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


The Apollo 11 From The Earth To The Moon episode is online.

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posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:13 PM on August 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


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posted by Reverend John at 8:14 PM on August 25, 2012


My son and i stand beneath the great night sky
And gaze up in wonder
I tell him the tale of apollo and he says
"why did they ever go?"
It may look like some empty gesture
To go all that way just to come back
But don't offer me a place out in cyberspace
Cos where in the hell's that at?

Billy Bragg nails it.
posted by arcticseal at 8:15 PM on August 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Not sure if Neil Armstrong or Buzz Aldrin took it, but I'd bet Armstrong,

Armstrong took all of the pictures during Apollo 11's EVA. I was going to complain to all of my Facebook friends for posting pictures of Buzz Aldrin today, but instead I helpfully pointed out that you can in fact see Neil's reflection in Buzz's helmet.
posted by ShutterBun at 8:15 PM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


...now the light commands, this is my home, I'm coming home...

Earth below us
Drifting, falling
Floating weightless
Comiing, coming home...
posted by IndigoRain at 8:25 PM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Astronauts land on plain; collect rocks, plant flag., NY Times, 7/21/69
posted by crunchland at 8:26 PM on August 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


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posted by Confess, Fletch at 8:38 PM on August 25, 2012


The fucking moon, you guys. The goddamn fucking moon...

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posted by odinsdream at 8:47 PM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


odinsdream: The fucking moon, you guys. The goddamn fucking moon...

Roger, Tranquility, we copy you. We cannot believe you are on the fucking moon. Repeat: cannot fucking believe it. Over.
posted by tzikeh at 8:53 PM on August 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


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posted by tspae at 9:10 PM on August 25, 2012


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Here's hoping that an ever increasing number of earthlings will following in his one small step.
posted by porpoise at 9:23 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by smoothvirus at 9:27 PM on August 25, 2012


Fwiw, the sun is shining on the sea of tranquillity right now...
posted by sexyrobot at 9:28 PM on August 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


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posted by JamesD at 9:32 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by Dimpy at 9:37 PM on August 25, 2012


In the past, whenever I've read the President's letter in case of lunar disaster, I figured it was in case the spacecraft crashed either getting there or leaving. In reading it today, I realized they had no idea if they would be able to bring them back....that they might be left there while people looking up at the piece of rock that would forever have a corner of humankind. Wow. For all that Challenger changed my childhood, I still never even considered that maybe they wouldn't have been able to get off the moon.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 9:51 PM on August 25, 2012


I like that people are posting pictures of Aldrin, mistaking them for Armstrong.

Armstrong was working, taking pictures, and apparently taking them well.

So people that believe they are posting pictures of Armstrong are in fact posting the results of his work.

Armstrong would like that. He liked work, and the cumulative judgment that affirmed he did it well might have meant something. But I suspect his pragmatic engineer's view of things would merely have observed that he read the manual, practiced, and when it was time to use the tool that was that camera, he used it correctly.

He seemed like he felt he was willing, educated, trained, and given opportunities that had no small part due to luck of the draw. That all may be true, but he was cool under pressure, and I can't imagine how anyone might have handled his historically unique position with more grace and respect for the totality of what it took to make that first walk possible.
posted by dglynn at 9:52 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by shakespeherian at 10:01 PM on August 25, 2012


Also: I'll go. I mean it. But I'm not getting any younger. Come on, NASA, lemme try!
posted by trip and a half at 10:01 PM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by robot at 10:08 PM on August 25, 2012


I'm pretty sure that Neil Armstrong will be the only 20th Century person whose name kids of the far future will know.
posted by Kattullus at 10:33 PM on August 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Heard the news and the family's statement on the way home from work tonight.

Looked out my car window and winked at the moon.
posted by honeybee413 at 10:37 PM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by Lafe at 10:43 PM on August 25, 2012


Wow, another childhood hero gone into that great dark night. We were all right there with you when you walked on the moon, Neil. Heck, I would have traded places with you in a hot second. I'll always be both jealous and proud of you for getting to do what so many of us wanted to - set foot on another world. ♥
posted by Lynsey at 10:52 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by gomichild at 11:13 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by raena at 11:16 PM on August 25, 2012


I really appreciate Brandon Blatcher's comments in this thread for remembering the man, rather than the myth.

Neil Armstrong certainly deserves respect but the myth-making, excessive sentimentality and hero-worship in this thread is pretty off-putting. No wonder the guy tried to avoid public exposure for the remainder of his life.
posted by Pranksome Quaine at 11:25 PM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Mankind continues to take steps, but they are no longer giant leaps. I think about a robot waking each Martian morning to find something new and wish we had a slate of them on the launch pad for Europa, Titan, and other destinations, along with more Neils suiting up to place humanity's marker further and further out.
posted by pashdown at 11:55 PM on August 25, 2012


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posted by R343L at 12:12 AM on August 26, 2012


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posted by bouvin at 12:26 AM on August 26, 2012


So many heroes turn out to have feet of clay. It seems that Neil Armstrong was the real deal: smart, brave, humble. He earned the adulation of strangers, and didn't let it go to his head. He kept a sense of perspective and valued the respect of the hardworking but un-famous people he met. Even if he'd never walked on the moon, I think he'd have every right to look back on his life and be satisfied with how he lived. That's something we can all learn from even if we never match his accomplishments.
posted by harriet vane at 12:34 AM on August 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by saslett at 12:35 AM on August 26, 2012


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posted by evil_esto at 12:36 AM on August 26, 2012


Profoundly saddened by this news. I was not born yet, but my father was a youthful 26 in war-stricken Vietnam when the US sent the first men to the moon. Despite the fact that America was embroiled in messy politics and military force in my Dad's birth country, the moon landing represented such audacity, optimism, and technological & intellectual brightness that it was - at the time - indisputable that America was simply #1.

Neil Armstrong - your achievements, bravery, sacrifice, and humility still stands as a testament to how great we can be. During my lifetime, I hope to see humanity reach for the stars, yet again.
posted by hampanda at 12:51 AM on August 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by robzster1977 at 1:10 AM on August 26, 2012


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posted by alby at 1:17 AM on August 26, 2012


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posted by jiroczech at 1:22 AM on August 26, 2012


Why does space always make me cry? We landed an incredible robot on Mars and I cried. Neil Armstrong died and I'm crying. Fucking space, knock it off.

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posted by Chutzler at 1:42 AM on August 26, 2012


I'm so sad to hear this. I was 10 at the time of the moon landing and, like trip and a half said, I was glued to it. I had a huge crush on Neil Armstrong, which I've never quite got over. His bravery cannot be underestimated.
posted by essexjan at 2:25 AM on August 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


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posted by SageLeVoid at 3:16 AM on August 26, 2012


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posted by karmiolz at 4:17 AM on August 26, 2012


Neil Armstrong certainly deserves respect but the myth-making, excessive sentimentality and hero-worship in this thread is pretty off-putting. No wonder the guy tried to avoid public exposure for the remainder of his life.
posted by Pranksome Quaine


People sharing their thoughts and memories is off-putting? That's pretty puzzling.
posted by Optamystic at 4:32 AM on August 26, 2012


People sharing their thoughts and memories is off-putting? That's pretty puzzling.

For Neil it certainly was. The guy hardly ever participated in interviews until the last half-dozen years or so.
posted by ShutterBun at 4:41 AM on August 26, 2012


(the above frame of reference may be off by 5 years or so, I think)
posted by ShutterBun at 5:16 AM on August 26, 2012


As Chrissie Hynde said: "We are all of us in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars."

Oh, man, that's an Oscar Wilde quote. Seriously.
posted by crossoverman at 5:24 AM on August 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, man, that's an Oscar Wilde quote. Seriously.

Are you saying that Chrissie Hynde was a Pretender?
posted by Optamystic at 5:32 AM on August 26, 2012 [8 favorites]


I posted this to facebook, because I was on my ipad, and never thought to visit The Blue yesterday.
Nothing the United States has ever done, and likely will ever do, will be as important to all of mankind as putting a man on the surface of The Moon. That Armstrong did it without ever reaching for celebrity or the easy path to riches, that he never cheapened what was done by Man should make honoring him more important.
And then I watched For All Mankind with my wife.
posted by DigDoug at 5:42 AM on August 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Statements from his Apollo 11 crew:

Lunar Module Pilot Buzz Aldrin: "I am very saddened to learn of the passing of Neil Armstrong today. Neil and I trained together as technical partners but were also good friends who will always be connected through our participation in the mission of Apollo 11. Whenever I look at the moon it reminds me of the moment over four decades ago when I realized that even though we were farther away from earth than two humans had ever been, we were not alone. Virtually the entire world took that memorable journey with us. I know I am joined by millions of others in mourning the passing of a true American hero and the best pilot I ever knew. My friend Neil took the small step but giant leap that changed the world and will forever be remembered as a landmark moment in human history."

Command Module Pilot Michael Collins: "He was the best, and I will miss him terribly."
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:00 AM on August 26, 2012 [8 favorites]


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posted by lordrunningclam at 6:17 AM on August 26, 2012


From Jerry Pournelle's blog:

"And of course they all had the right stuff, and they knew it, and they knew that Armstrong had more of it than most. During the Apollo Lander Simulation flight – the trainer was dubbed the flying bedstead with good reason – in Arizona the computers glitched or the gyros tumbled so that the platform tumbled ninety degrees. If Armstrong had ejected with it in that attitude he would not have achieved enough altitude to allow the parachute to open. He kept his nerve and slowly rotated the platform as it fell, and when the angle was right – about 45 degrees I am told, I wasn’t there – ejected. Everything worked and he landed without injury. They’ve calculated that he had about three seconds to spare.

The computers overloaded during the Apollo 11 landings, and Armstrong came through again. This time he had twenty seconds of fuel to spare. The right stuff came through. The Eagle landed as the world watched, and the world would never be the same. Those of us who had a part in that can be sure of that. When I was growing up I knew from the first day I read Willy Ley’s book that I would live to see the first man on the Moon. I had not expected to outlive him, but Mankind’s conquest of space is not over. We’ll be back."
posted by roystgnr at 6:43 AM on August 26, 2012 [9 favorites]


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posted by suetanvil at 7:07 AM on August 26, 2012


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posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? at 7:39 AM on August 26, 2012


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It was things like the moon landings that made me go into science. Thank you Mr. Armstrong.
posted by Canageek at 8:24 AM on August 26, 2012


Pranksome Quaine: "I really appreciate Brandon Blatcher's comments in this thread for remembering the man, rather than the myth.

Neil Armstrong certainly deserves respect but the myth-making, excessive sentimentality and hero-worship in this thread is pretty off-putting. No wonder the guy tried to avoid public exposure for the remainder of his life.
"

Great contribution to the thread! Want to shit all over our grief for someone else, too? Maybe you hated the myth of the muppets?
posted by lazaruslong at 9:16 AM on August 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


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posted by entropicamericana at 9:51 AM on August 26, 2012


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posted by Lutoslawski at 10:01 AM on August 26, 2012


Fox News Analyst Reminds Us What Neil Armstrong’s Death Is Really About: Obama Spreading Islam
posted by homunculus at 10:53 AM on August 26, 2012


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“I WANT YOU TO YOU LOOK ME IN MY EYES; I HAVEN’T SLEPT A PEACEFUL NIGHT IN MORE THAN A SEVENTEEN YEARS. I AM INCAPABLE OF ANY KIND OF HUMAN CONNECTION. I AM CONSTANTLY IN DANGER OF DRIFTING INTO TOTAL MENTAL OBLIVION. THESE EYES, THEY LOOKED UPON THE EARTH AND SAW AN INCONSEQUENTIAL PARTICLE IN AN INCOMPREHENSIBLE, INFINITE UNIVERSE. YOU THINK THE JETS HAVE A SHOT THIS SEASON? I WALKED ON THE FUCKING MOON. THANKS FOR THE DRINK.”
posted by ndfine at 10:55 AM on August 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sorry to hear of the passing of a great man. He was the best kind of badass, he was a humble bad ass.

I wonder if Michael Collins will just drive around the cemetery during the funeral.
posted by bondcliff at 10:59 AM on August 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


With greatest respect

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posted by vers at 11:22 AM on August 26, 2012


Prompted by the death of Neil Armstrong I've been interested to read more about the astronauts on that Moon Landing mission on July 20th 1969. This article about Buzz Aldrin's life is especially moving. His mother, born Marion Moon, committed suicide just before the Apollo trip. A good portion of his book is readable online: Magnificent Desolation: The Long Journey Home From the Moon

Exploring the Apollo Image Gallery, there are some truly marvelous, quite glorious photographs: The Earth from the Moon | the lunar surface | the Earth seen above the Lunar Module | a crescent Earth | the Earth with the terminator.
posted by nickyskye at 11:23 AM on August 26, 2012 [9 favorites]


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posted by gagglezoomer at 11:28 AM on August 26, 2012


That's one giant example for mankind. Thanks, Neil. Godspeed, Eagle.
posted by phoebus at 11:35 AM on August 26, 2012


I wonder if Michael Collins will just drive around the cemetery during the funeral.

When it was decided that Mike Collins and Buzz Aldrin would be his crew, Armstrong and Deke Slayton, head of the astronaut office and responsible for picking all the Gemini, Apollo and Skylab crews, had a talk about who should be Lunar Module Pilot and get to walk on the moon and who should be Command Module Pilot (CMP) and stay in orbit. As Collins was considered the better of the two, he got the job with the most responsibility, being the CMP. He did all the dockings between ships, wrote the book on emergency procedures to rescue the Lunar Module if it got stranded on low Moon orbit and he flew the Command Module during its reentry into Earth atmosphere.

While training for the Apollo 11 mission as the CMP, Collins was offered a chance to "stay in the rotation" by Slayton himself. Had he accepted, he would have been backup commander of Apollo 14 and the walked on the moon on Apollo 17.

Why did he say no? As described in his autobiography, the time spent training was placing a huge burden on his wife and family via his absence. So he turned a virtually guaranteed shot at walking on the moon to focus on his family. Yes, they're still married.

After leaving NASA, Collins worked at the State Department for a year and became the first Director of a little something called the National Air and Space Museum. He oversaw its planning and construction, which was finished on time and under budget.

24 men have been to the moon. 12 of them walked on it. Only six were given the responsibility of orbiting it by themselves.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:35 AM on August 26, 2012 [21 favorites]


It's the beginning of the end of the Space Era. In my time, people went to the moon, walked there, and science was a Big Deal. We had a Big Vision; that we could go out and discover whatever was out there, that we might go to other planets, might someday leave our solar system.

Now it's all about ... what? Not letting anybody impose taxes, so I can keep my wages and buy more stuff. Creationism, and Denying Science. The Tyranny of Cool.

Neil Armstrong, fellow Ohioan, and a great guy. What could be cooler than walking on the Moon? This is a sad day.
posted by theora55 at 11:44 AM on August 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


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posted by clavdivs at 11:47 AM on August 26, 2012


Man, this thread is making me cry all over again. So many people have expressed the same sort of feeling: "where did we go wrong?" When I was a kid the present seemed pretty sucky with the Vietnam War and riots and everything, but the future was gonna be shiny. NASA (and their Soviet counterpart, in fairness) inspired a whole generation of writers and moviemakers and little kids ... and somehow we lost it. Today the present seems pretty sucky and the future looks pretty sucky too.

Not to belittle the Mars rover program, because robots are cool, but it was really nice to live in a time when it seemed like the future would be a great place where we could do anything we really put our minds to. The Apollo program embodied that attitude and Neil Armstrong embodied the Apollo program.
posted by Quietgal at 11:50 AM on August 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


The Apollo missions happened long before I was born, but everyone knows Neil Armstrong. His name is a hyperbole -- kind of like how you call someone Einstein or Mozart. Going to the moon, walking around, and coming back alive is so phenomenal, it's hard to believe that it'd be possible now, let alone when computers were the size of refrigerators. I can't think of anything more sophisticated than going to the moon, it's disappointing to know that we didn't go further, and it's depressing to think we've regressed in our space exploration.

I remember reading an article about Armstrong emphasizing how much of a badass he was (maybe it was this?). After retiring from being an astronaut, he lost a finger working on his farm -- this was a minor inconvenience to him. He found his finger, packed it up in ice, and then drove himself to a hospital to get it reattached. Also this.

He walked on the moon; there's no way this guy will ever die.
posted by cyberscythe at 11:57 AM on August 26, 2012


I saw some people already posted links to the Apollo 11 transcripts. I still love this scanned PDF version, all 626 pages of it, until the final SPLASHDOWN!. The jagged typewriter lettering and scrawled margin notes really drive home what they had to work with, when they went to the moon. Rest in peace.
posted by deo rei at 11:58 AM on August 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin left one of Yuri Gagarin's cosmonaut medals on the moon to pay tribute to his accomplishment as the world's first man in space.
posted by nickyskye at 12:03 PM on August 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


Charles Pierce is breaking my fking heart
For at least a time, there literally was only one other person in the history of man who knew what Armstrong knew — how that sandy soil feels when you walk on it, the exact places where the shadows fall, the precise geometry of the mountains of the moon. Today, there are only eight of them left, all of them in their 70's. What will happen when the last of them dies? It's very likely that there will not be a living human being who knows what Neil Armstrong knew. It will all be for videotape and digital libraries, for historians and, if we're very lucky, for poets, as well. But there will be nobody alive who actually knows. Not a single one of our fellow humans, anywhere on the Earth. That knowledge will be as dead in the world as Columbus is. One fewer person on the Earth was able to look up at the moon on Sunday night. What he thought when he looked at, night after night, is a perspective lost to all but eight old men. Sooner or later, there will be none of them left. On that day, like today, we should mourn for what we once thought we were. From that day forward, I fear, it is all going to sound like myth and magic, and the tales that the old men told around the ancient fires.
posted by hap_hazard at 12:27 PM on August 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


Wink at the Moon.
posted by mikurski at 12:33 PM on August 26, 2012


I'd lie in my bed and dream I was in the Sea of Tranquility
posted by hap_hazard at 12:36 PM on August 26, 2012


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posted by snsranch at 12:52 PM on August 26, 2012


So this guy at church today (UU) gets up and said he was saddened by the death of astronaut...Sally Ride... because she was the first woman, lesbian woman (??), astronaut, and was a true hero, who we should remember, instead of commercial heroes.

Nobody had mentioned Armstrong previously, this was just bizzarre. I can only assume he thinks Armstrong is somehow a "false" hero or something. It was really, really strange and upsetting.
posted by odinsdream at 1:01 PM on August 26, 2012


*

I have been crying off and on since I heard the news. This thread has helped immensely, I don't feel so alone.

I was seven in 1969 and my parents didn't have a television. They thought I should be reading (thanks!) so we had to go over the Gibson's house down the street. Both families were crammed into the master bedroom around a laughably small TV staring at grainy B&W images. There were 10 of us, perched on the edge of the bed watching in awe and wonder. To this day I have not felt anything quite like I felt as I watched Neil stepping onto the moon.

And I know I probably won't again. I've been wrestling with the sadness of losing one of my heroes and looking around and seeing no possible replacement. I feel sad that my kids are growing up in a world where dreams, big dreams like walking on the moon, are rare. And I'm trying really hard not to let my cynicism and grief take me to a dark place about the fate our country and the world.

The challenge is to recapture some of the spirit that Neil embodied and to live what's left of my life with as much of the 7 year old awe as I can. It's easy to succumb to the darkness and I am grateful that he shined a light big enough to cut through it.

Godspeed...
posted by skepticbill at 1:24 PM on August 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


theora55 writes "It's the beginning of the end of the Space Era. In my time, people went to the moon, walked there, and science was a Big Deal. We had a Big Vision; that we could go out and discover whatever was out there, that we might go to other planets, might someday leave our solar system. "

It's not completely hopeless, China has an ambitious space program they've been making steady progress on and one of their goals is manned moon missions. Be nice if they managed it before the last American to walk on the moon dies.
posted by Mitheral at 1:50 PM on August 26, 2012


Neil Armstrong recorded an hour-long interview last year with CPA Australia.
posted by rory at 4:18 PM on August 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


What he thought when he looked at, night after night, is a perspective lost to all but eight old men.

Check out Voices from the Moon, it has quotes from Apollo astronauts that describe how they felt and what they thought about their voyages, combined with some of the most gorgeous photos from the trips. Warning: the Apollo astronauts weren't poets and many of their quotes are far from romantic. Many of them expressed frustration about not being able to express feelings very well, especially when so many people were looking for poetry from them. Seriously, pick up the book, it's beautiful and when the astronauts do convey their deeper feelings about what they felt or thought, it's breathtaking.

That's the worst part about Michael Collins not walking on the Moon, as he was one of the most articulate, poetic and honest writers of the group. He admitted to be being scared shitless about Neil and Buzz not coming, facing the frustration of learning all the techniques and feeling stupid because he wasn't picking it up quickly, along with the powerful feelings of exhalation as he orbited the Moon alone.

Armstrong wasn't an expressive man and he kept to himself as much possible. But man, the way he's eyes are shining in that photo of him in the Lunar Module, after his moon walk, that speaks volumes. He had a ball and would have loved to have gone back and taken all of us with him.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:00 PM on August 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Pow! ZOOM! To the Moon!
posted by homunculus at 5:05 PM on August 26, 2012


I remember I was outside playing and my mother called me in and told me this was happening right now and that man was on the moon. That started my fascination with the moon and space travel. I also remember my dad buying my brother and myself coloring book about landing on the moon.
Good bye Mr. Armstrong, another part of my childhood has gone.
posted by govtdrone at 6:33 PM on August 26, 2012


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posted by mayurasana at 8:28 PM on August 26, 2012


Forget the setting foot on the moon and all the hero talk. Here's why I will always appreciate the man: he refused all the adulation and never lost sight of the fact that 400,000 people worked on Project Apollo, of which he was but one. The most visible and memorable one, to be sure, but able to be there by virtue of all the others. This was, in every sense, humanity's accomplishment, and he seemed to understand that better than everybody else.

He was a professional, did his job exceptionally well, shared the credit with his colleagues and his knowledge and experience with later generations, and in doing so, set an example in character worth emulating.

They picked the right guy.
posted by rhombus at 1:27 AM on August 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


To be fair, though, they didn't "pick" Armstrong, insofar as his flight assignment for Apollo 11. There were 1,000 things that had to happen in a particular configuration in order for Armstrong to end up in the position he ended up in.

At the time the Apollo mission assignments were being handed out, nobody had the slightest idea which teams would end up with which missions. Had any of the previous Apollo missions failed to reach its objectives, Apollo 11 could have ended up as merely the first (or second) circumlunar mission, etc.

Deke Slayton certainly played with the flight crews, pairing certain personality types with others he considered "compatible," but at no point was it decided "Neil and Buzz will be the first men to land on the moon", and most definitely not anything like "Neil is the right man for the job", etc.

Granted, they got lucky that the guy who ended up in the commander's seat ended up being a good man for the job, and the astronaut screening program certainly had a lot to do with that, but again: Neil Armstrong was never "selected to be the first man to walk on the moon" (other than the fact that he would be getting out of the LEM before Aldrin, which in itself was a source of some internal controversy at NASA at the time, thanks to Buzz)

Neil was most definitely suited for the task, even moreso than others. Pete Conrad (3rd man and second Commander to land on the moon) was arguably the superior pilot, but his "colorful" personality would have been totally incompatible with the momentous nature of the event of the first landing.

Alan Sheppard was still grounded at the time, and his flight assignment to Apollo XIV was pure "good ol' boys" graft, as Slayton (head of flight assignments) was his buddy from the Mercury days. Shepard was Old Guard, and although a consummate professional, would have probably been too "military" for the public at large to warm up to (as opposed to, say, John Glenn would have) Lest we forget, Armstrong was in fact a "civilian" when he became an astronaut, something which the court of public opinion no doubt appreciated at the time.

Dave Scott would have been an ideal candidate for "first man on the moon," though history requires him to be remembered as "the guy who tried to profit off his lunar mission." He was with Neil Armstron in Gemini 8, when Armstrong made what can only be called a "near miraculous" effort to pilot his spacecraft out of danger, and saved his entire mission. (I believe that mission still holds the title of "furthest off-course landing" of any spacecraft.) Indeed, Armstrong earned his Astronaut Wings on that flight. But with regard to Scott, it's impossible to consider him as a "first on the moon" candidate without remembering the disgrace of "the stamp incident."

Gene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon, would have been a pretty great candidate for "first man to walk on the moon," in my opinion. He and Armstrong were so very similar (even having the same Alma Mater) and both, I think, recognized the importance of the "for all mankind" spirit. The notion that it took hundreds of thousands of people, and millions more people's monetary support, to put them where they were. Cernan in particular, being the last man to walk on the moon, has been most vocal about returning there. A bit of a "hot dogger" in his time as a pilot, but would have made an equally honorable choice as "first man to walk on the moon."

As for my own personal choice (and really, I have absolutely NO INTENTION of sullying the spirit of an Armstrong obituary thread, but it's just that we're talking about it now, so this is as good a place as any) for first to walk on the moon:

Jim Lovell. The consumate astronaut. At the time, he had BY FAR more time in space than anyone else. (and by "by far" I only mean that he was something like double his next closest competitor) Jim went to the moon twice, and never got to land. OUCH.

Neil was most definitely a great "result" to be first man on the moon, and we could scarcely have done better. His grace and humility alone made him uniquely suited to the momentous occasion, which is to say nothing of his "hands on" approach to flying and calm under pressure which allowed the landing to take place at all. (The flight controllers' faces were "turning blue" according to Charlie Duke (whose German measles famously led to a last minute crew change on Apollo 13) and yet through it all, with his heart rate peaking at about 150bpm, Armstrong was cool as a cucumber the whole way through, even having the presence of mind to annouce his landing from "Tranquility Base," a location which had NEVER been discussed with NASA, he just made it up on the spot. (Charlie Duke has some obvious tongue-twisting going on when he tries to acknowledge)

NASA didn't "choose" the right guy. They just got damn lucky.
posted by ShutterBun at 2:48 AM on August 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


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posted by fluffycreature at 6:05 AM on August 27, 2012


I get the impression that Armstrong would have been happier being the pocket protector wearing engineer than wearing the mantle of heroism, but who among us would have remained so true to themselves in the face of such public adoration? Paradoxically, for that measure of self control he is heroic to me.
posted by dgran at 7:15 AM on August 27, 2012


Just a small thought on the greatness of Americans like Armstrong and Aldrin, and the rest of the Apollo astronauts:

They strike me as folks who were incorruptible because they were first and foremost scientists who believed in logic and reason, they were healthy in mind and body, indeed they were as conditioned if not more so than marathon runners and other athletes, but the thing that made them special, and Armstrong (and his name is perfect for this), they simply DID NOT GIVE IN TO FEAR, EVER, NO MATTER HOW MUCH THEY FELT.

Compared to today, when Fox News has made fear and fearmongering A GODDAMN NATIONAL PAST-TIME.

And if you want ONE reason why they're traitorous and anti-american: There you go.

I think if you truly want to honor the man Neil Armstrong. Be not afraid. It's okay to feel afraid, let it inform your thoughts and decisions, but it's not okay to give in to it.

Ever.


My little "Neil Armstrong" sermon for the day. Goeth forth and kick-ass like Neil Armstrong.
posted by Skygazer at 9:03 AM on August 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


LIVE ARMSTRONG.
posted by Skygazer at 9:16 AM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by vibrotronica at 9:35 AM on August 27, 2012


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posted by oneironaut at 10:29 AM on August 27, 2012


Armstrong’s Close Call
posted by homunculus at 10:45 AM on August 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


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posted by meese at 11:24 AM on August 27, 2012


Count on the Onion to get a giggle even amid the tears: American Voices on Neil Armstrong.

"It’s always sad when man dies. Sorry, I actually meant ‘a’ man."

Dennis Gawley
Varnish Maker

posted by chavenet at 11:59 AM on August 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


Humonculus: Armstrong’s Close Call

Amazing. Just amazing. So scary.
posted by Skygazer at 1:18 PM on August 27, 2012


Armstrong's Close Call: “I can’t think of another person,” Bean recalls, “let alone another astronaut, who would have just gone back to his office after ejecting a fraction of a second before getting killed.”

This is the guy you want landing the first LM on another world with no backup, no chance for rescue, and the world watching over your shoulder.
posted by localroger at 2:38 PM on August 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Nice bit of perspective from the NYT obit:
In “First Man: The Life of Neil Armstrong,” James R. Hansen wrote that in Mr. Armstrong’s first year at Purdue, Charles E. Yeager broke the sound barrier in the rocket-powered Bell X-1. It was exciting but bittersweet for the young student. He thought aviation history had already passed him by.

“All in all, for someone who was immersed in, fascinated by, and dedicated to flight,” Mr. Armstrong told his biographer, “I was disappointed by the wrinkle in history that had brought me along one generation late. I had missed all the great times and adventures in flight.”
(After this, he went on to fly in Korea and then came back to school with new determination to work hard in his studies, and that's what got him to the right place/right time for his NASA career.)

A good reminder not to be discouraged in thinking that all the great deeds are behind us.
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:58 PM on August 27, 2012 [8 favorites]


Collectspace.com has a great collection of rare Armstrong photos.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:01 PM on August 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


Steve Jurvetson, on the recurring nightmare Neil Armstrong had for two years leading up to Apollo 11.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:12 AM on August 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


That's kinda strange that Armstrong had nightmares about the hypergolic engines, since they were cited as being more or less of a "failsafe" for Apollo 13, ensuring that at the very least, they wouldn't be stuck orbiting the moon.
posted by ShutterBun at 11:20 PM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Quoted from a friend on FB:

I remember the first time I met Neil Armstrong. It was at a Purdue Alumni function at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. I was a member of the Purdue Varsity Glee Club - I was walking around the meet & greet with my camera snapping photos for the Glee Club. I walked up to Steven Beering (the president of Purdue at the time) who was chatting with some guy. I asked the guy if he minded taking a picture. He didn't. But to his surprise, I handed him my camera so he could take a photo of President Beering and me. The man smiled and took the picture. Then President Beering laughed and introduced me to our photographer, Neil Armstrong. Mr. Armstrong thought the entire incident was hilarious, and each time I met him after that, he would offer to take my photo. I will always remember him fondly for that.
posted by double block and bleed at 4:16 AM on August 30, 2012 [12 favorites]


That's kinda strange that Armstrong had nightmares about the hypergolic engines...

Nah, the engines weren't the worry, it was the electric pump, which presumably would force the two fuels together:
He gave a detailed answer about the hypergolic fuel mixing system for the lunar module. Rather than an ignition system, they had two substances that would ignite upon contact. Instead of an electric pump, he wished he had a big simple lever to mechanically initiate mixing.
The pump was a possible failure. Imagine how utterly maddening it would be if it failed, hence the wish for a simple lever.

The amazing thing is that the Lunar Module was never fully tested, since it couldn't actually be tested in the conditions it would ultimately be operating in. It took some 6 years to design and build, it was late in being delivered, but it never failed. It fact, on Apollo 13, it lasted beyond what it was designed. It was humanity's first real spaceship, in a way. Operable only in deep space or on the moon, it could have never survived reentry with Earth or even functioned in its atmosphere. Yet we built the damn thing to last.

Or rather Thomas Kelley and Gruman Ironworks did it, as detailed in Moon Lander: How We Developed the Apollo Lunar Module. The Moon Machines DVD is also great, it has chapter on developing the Lunar Module, which is available on YouTube in three parts (1, 2, 3). Episode 9 of From the Earth to the Moon, titled "Spider", is also a great story on how the Lunar Module was built. Here's a small clip.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:49 PM on August 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Armstrong's dreams of the electrical pump make even more sense when you consider that his previous flight, Gemini 8, almost got him killed due electrical problems. And that was in craft that had already been tested in its environment. On Apollo 11, Armstrong would be perform the first full on test of launching the Lunar Module from the moon. It was just him and Buzz, no one else at all. Every other rocket launch required hundreds, if not thousands of people. This time, it would be just two and all they would be doing is pushing some buttons. Everything on the Lunar Module had to work, no if, ands or buts.

Lots of people thought landing Curiosity on Mars via the skycrane maneuver was crazy, if not impossible. But none of them were literally putting their life on the line. Add in the disaster that was Apollo 1, where the crew was killed in a routine ground test due to a cabin atmosphere that Mercury, Gemini had used and one that Apollo still used, albeit with more safety features. It's a wonder Armstrong, the man known for having an exceptional grasp of engineering and how it related to flight and yeah, I bet he did fret about that electrical pump not working.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:33 AM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


“I am, and ever will be, a white-socks, pocket-protector, nerdy engineer, born under the second law of thermodynamics, steeped in steam tables, in love with free-body diagrams, transformed by Laplace and propelled by compressible flow.”

- Neil Armstrong


This is probably a double comment, but just saw it and it struck me.
posted by infini at 6:04 AM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


Probably not a real quote, but based off this one. It doesn't sound like the famously private Armstrong would use the word love so freely in public or speak so poetically.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:27 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hey, I was wrong, Armstrong did say THAT!

Here's the Armstrong's speech from the 2000 National Club and the quote infini mentions starts around the six minute mark.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:37 AM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


I knew very little about Armstrong outside of the fact that he was the first to walk the moon, but reading the thread has very much given me a posthumous man-crush.
posted by Anything at 4:29 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by 2lemmas at 10:31 AM on September 6, 2012


A Small step for (a) man and a big for humanity!
posted by vjlamba at 1:23 PM on September 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Neil Armstrong I knew — and flew with.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:15 PM on September 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


Moondoggle: The Forgotten Opposition to the Apollo Program. For most of our lunar adventure, a majority of Americans did not support going to the moon. On the 50th anniversary of JFK's "We choose to go the moon" speech, we examine why.
posted by homunculus at 12:29 PM on September 16, 2012


NASA Remembers Neil Armstrong
posted by homunculus at 12:31 PM on September 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


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