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“Neil Armstrong, 1930-2012: Made ‘Giant Leap’ as First Man to Step on Moon“
I just saw the news on my NYT feed.
As I prepare to leave my daughter at college, I couldn’t help but think that my personal giant leap begins as he takes that final giant leap.
May his soul, and the souls of all the departed, rest in peace.
May his memory be a blessing.
I thought that the statement his family released was lovely.
“While we mourn the loss of a very good man, we also celebrate his remarkable life and hope that it serves as an example to young people around the world to work hard to make their dreams come true, to be willing to explore and push the limits, and to selflessly serve a cause greater than themselves.“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.”
“While we mourn the loss of a very good man, we also celebrate his remarkable life and hope that it serves as an example to young people around the world to work hard to make their dreams come true, to be willing to explore and push the limits, and to selflessly serve a cause greater than themselves.
“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.”
Heard about it earlier. I remember distinctly the day I watched the moon landing on an old black and white television. Decided that what I wanted to be most in all the world was to be an astronaut like Neil Armstrong.
It feels like people like this will always be with us, and they will in a way, and it feels like it was way too soon to lose them. Rest in peace, I will be hoping for a cloudless night tonight. And it makes me smile to see all the “moon” songs people are posting in tribute. Here’s mine, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TpWXyRq-SIw&feature=related
We’ll never know the name of the first human to set foot on an island, or in Europe or Australia or the Americas. We’ll never know the name of the first human to cross an ocean or scale a mountain. But we do know the name of the first human to set foot on another world. His name was Neil Armstrong, and we lived in his age.
An amazing human being.
May he rest in peace.
I’m speechless. Maybe this will be a wake-up call for us; before you know it, every human to ever walk on the moon will be dead, and we still won’t have gone back.
Out of the twelve people who’ve walked on the Moon, eight are left. The youngest of them is 76.
This. And I wonder, how long after the last of The Twelve dies will it be before people forget we’ve even been to the moon?
I was alive for only three months under a sky with no human footprints on the moon, and grew up believing landing on the moon was America’s greatest achievement. By the time my children were born, for most kids the moon landing was something that they might get to in their American history books in June, if they got there at all. We were in a hobby store one day (somewhere in the mid-90s) and overheard a man showing his grandson a model of the Apollo rocket, “This is the ship that took us to the moon!” and his grandson (who looked 10 or so) said, “Grandpa, you mean people have actually been to the moon?”
The last man to set foot on the moon did so before I was five. It is unlikely now that anyone will set foot on the moon again before I’m fifty-five. And it won’t be an American.
Yeah. There’s a reason “Hope Eyrie” is popular among SF fans. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IXteSV8rBwY)
“The Eagle has landed: tell your children when! Time won’t drag us down to dust again.”
It’s a nice dream, anyway.
We are on our way back to a world where nobody alive has walked on the surface of another world.
This is true, but at the same time we’ve now explored far more of our own world than we dreamed of being able to at the time people walked on the moon. A man has now been to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, a place that’s every bit as alien to humans as the surface of the moon, maybe more.
It’s weird and depressing that there are children who don’t even realize that we’ve put people on the moon, but the spirit that sent Armstrong and his fellow astronauts there isn’t dead.
We went from no powered flight, to people walking on another planet in a generation. and we are going to let the existence of people who walked on another world vanish in another generation.
I’m not sure that this is a bad thing. Rather, it is a sign of progress, including progress that is a direct result of things we invented and developed and learned to get people up to the moon.
When we sent people to the moon, we did not have the technology to send sophisticated robotic explorer vehicles to study the moon. If we wanted to learn anything we had to send people. And we had to put people’s lives at risk.
Throughout human history, countless precious human lives have been lost in the effort of exploring the world around us. Many of those lives were lost quite pointlessly. For example, early explorers of the oceans over-staffed their ships with the knowledge that many of the crew would die from malnutrition, injury and disease before they could even get their ship somewhere interesting. They had no choice in the matter. If they were going to learn anything, they had to calculate human lives, and human deaths, into the costs of their exploration.
Which is a calculation that is really, really horrible. No one should have to make such a calculation. And, more importantly, no human being should have the value of their life reduced to a variable in such a calculation.
And, happily, we can do better.
With the robotic explorers we’re sending to Mars, we can’t bring rocks back to Earth. But we can do a lot of very sophisticated study. Stuff far beyond what we could do with moon-rocks that human astronauts picked up and carried home in the 1960s and 1970s. Perhaps even more valuable study, as the study can be done there, rather than here, with much less risk of contamination of study samples with all the things that are of Earth.
The risk/reward ratio in exploration is being redefined. And it is being redefined in a wonderful way, to allow much more reward, in the form of knowledge, with much less risk – it’s only money and metal at risk now, rather than human lives.
This in no way reduces or affects my admiration for what Neil Armstrong and the other human astronauts have done to expand the portion of the universe which we can study in detail.
Rather, my point is that the robotic vehicles that we now use to explore other worlds are part of the achievement of human astronauts who have explored space and the moon. Because they did not just explore space and the moon. They helped us learn ways to explore space and other planets in the solar system. Things we learned that we now can apply so we are not having to ask other, precious, valuable, human beings to take the same high risk they took for the same (comparatively low when looking at what a robot can do now) level of return.
When we next send humans to another planet, it will be with much more assurance of safety, much more expectation of valuable gain in knowledge, and much more confidence than we had when we last risked this sort of endeavor.
I don’t know that Neil Armstrong would enjoy the idea of space-exploration that eliminated the excitement of human beings doing the hands-on work for its own sake. I’m reasonably sure that he’d be proud that the risks he took ensure that the next time people take risks to explore someplace else, it will be not merely be to duplicate his effort (on the moon or the equivalent on another planet.) But rather that his efforts allow us to replicate his work elsewhere without asking anyone else to risk what he risked. And that when we ask someone else to risk what he risked, it will be to do something new, just as he did something new. Rather than merely to duplicate what he did because we have no way to do it other than to risk more human lives.
In a US history class, often things will jump from Columbus’s first voyage to either the establishment of the Jamestown colony or the establishment of the Plymouth colony.
A narrative the skips a lot of exploration, and a lot of human suffering. Both the suffering of the earliest European explorers, and the suffering of indigenous/Native American/First Nations/American Indian communities as the introduction of new diseases, plants and animals devastated their culture. And a narrative that skips over a century of exploration and learning.
If we can manage our next phase of exploration with less human suffering, that’s good.
And it is massively unjust and unfair to look at what Neil Armstrong did and wonder why it doesn’t seem to match the achievements of Jamestown and Plymouth.
He isn’t a Jamestown or Plymouth colonist.
He’s the very first person of the very first community that first figured out how to cross either the Atlantic or the Pacific ocean (and I am not going to venture, here and now, to prove which ocean and at what specific date – we know it happened, and it didn’t happen in a mere two decades) and began to poke around on a new continent.
For people who are interested in those who have walked on the moon I second Keith Humphrey’s recommendation of the documentary In The Shadow of the Moon . My BIL is really interested in the space program, so we watched it a couple years ago and it was quite good.
There are human footprints on the moon. The Sky is NOT the limit.
There’s a moon rock that you can tough in The Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum. My sister didn’t see what the big deal was. When we were there, you could see the moon in the late afternoon sky through the building’s windows. Even after my explanation–“This! [pointing to rock] Used to be there! [pointing to moon]”–she was unimpressed. I felt sad for her.
Damn. Phylis Diller, Jerry Nelson, now Neil Armstrong.
One, two, three. Three sad losses.
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