Taking a moment to mourn the passing of one of truly great figures of the Space Age: Neil Armstrong.
Born in 1930 Neil served as a Navy Fighter pilot and served in the Korean War. He became a test pilot before entering the astronaut program.
His first trip into Space was with Gemini 8. This mission accomplished the first ever docking between two space vehicles–the Gemini capsule and the Agena target vehicle. During that mission a malfunction caused the spacecraft to tumble out of control. Neil was able to recover control sufficiently to successfully re-enter saving the capsule and the lives of Neil and his fellow astronaut David Scott.
Later, during preparations for the Apollo moon landings, a highly experimental training vehicle began to have control problems while Neil was flying it. He ejected at the last possible instant (later analysis suggested that a mere half second further delay would have not given his parachute time to open) and his only injury was from biting his tongue. Although nearly killed in the accident, Neil later credited the experience in that vehicle with making the moon landings possible.
Then, finally, in Apollo 11, Neil Armstrong and Buz Aldrin (with Michael Collins remaining in the command module above them) made the first ever landing on another body by human beings. The landing itself was not without its own harrowing moments. When their planned landing area appeared to be unsafe, Neil took over manual control, shifted their descent, and safely brought the Lunar Excursion Module (the LEM) to a landing with a mere thirty seconds of fuel remaining.
After his famous trip to the moon, Neil generally lived a quiet life but his legacy remains. As a science fiction writer I find Neil and his legacy to be important to me personally.
It is still my hope that we might move beyond this one planet, out beyond the Earth and the Moon, and eventually to the Stars, and that our children’s, children’s children will look back on a truly great man who led the way.
Goodbye, Neil. You will be missed.