25 August 2012


Neil Armstrong, the first human to walk on the moon, died earlier today from complications following heart surgery.  He was 82 years old.  Armstrong was a US Naval aviator, test pilot, NASA astronaut, aerospace engineer, and university professor.

As an astronaut, Armstrong participated in both the Gemini program and the Apollo program.  Apollo 11 was the spaceflight which landed Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon on July 20, 1969, as command module pilot Michael Collins orbited above.  The feat was the result of expert support by thousands of professionals at NASA, but it was Armstrong's historic words upon first setting foot on the lunar surface which were heard by a transfixed audience around the globe ~ "That's one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind."  All of humanity celebrated.  Here is NASA's video of the descent and landing of the lunar module Eagle, and the first step taken by any human onto a celestial object other than Earth.  The video includes the riveted focus and then celebration among millions of live viewers around the world ~ the largest audience in history to witness a single event.

You can find a Washington Post retrospective on Armstrong's life here.  He was a quiet man, dedicated and courageous and skilled.  He will be missed.

High Flight

Oh!  I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings
Sunward I've climbed, and joint the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds ~ and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of ~ wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence.  Hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager 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 even 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.

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