Neil Armstrong, the first man on the Moon, has died today at the age of 81 due to complications following heart surgery earlier this month.
Uttering the immortal words “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”, Neil Armstrong and his crew became heroes to more than just a nation but to the world.
Armstrong’s self-made accomplishments were many, even before reaching the Moon. He had served as a Navy pilot having paid for flight lessons with a clerk’s job and fought during the Korean War, earned his degree in aeronautical engineering with top marks (and went on after his astronaut days to earn a Masters degree in the same field), became a test pilot, and had even directed a musical for his fraternity. He also holds honorary doctorates from a number of institutions.
Cool under pressure, he demonstrated his knack for doing his best in any situation during a dramatic episode during the Gemini 8 mission when he saved the capsule from an out-of-control spin. Armstrong and his partner, David Scott, guided the Gemini safely back to Earth having survived the ordeal.
After his astronaut days, Armstrong would go on to become a professor at the University of Cincinnati in Ohio teaching for eight years up until 1979. Afterwards, he would be a spokesperson for several companies and would heed the call of his nation when they needed him again at NASA to help investigate the Challenger disaster in 1986.
He quietly took himself away from the public spectacle in the last few years, but the impact of his life and that of his contributions to science won’t be forgotten. He once said “”As a boy, because I was born and raised in Ohio, about 60 miles north of Dayton, the legends of the Wrights have been in my memories as long as I can remember.”
I’ve little doubt that many others will continue to go on in being inspired by his life, and those of his fellow astronauts, in much the same way. Thank you, and good journey, Mr. Armstrong.