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Neil Armstrong’s Giant Leap

Neil Armstrong

Neil Armstrong — astronaut, engineer, professor, Navy aviator, and first man on the Moon — has died at the age of 82. He is best known for the words he spoke just before he set foot on the lunar surface. Contrary to popular belief, Armstrong said (emphasis added): “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” That word “a” was garbled in the satellite feed heard by the world. Regardless of our ability to hear him, Armstrong was a man of powerful words. Here are a few more to remember him by.

The Moon Plaque

Apollo 11 Plaque

Armstrong and fellow astronaut Buzz Aldrin left a plaque on the ladder of their moon lander, Eagle. The plaque read: “Here men from the planet Earth / First set foot upon the Moon / July 1969 A.D. / We came in peace for all mankind.” It bore the signatures of the Apollo 11 crew members and President Nixon. He also left a small silicon disc bearing tiny messages of goodwill from various world leaders, as well as the names of various American dignitaries. You may enjoy this video of Armstrong placing the plaque and then reading its text to the world (his reading starts around 1:30):

The Congressional Gold Medal

Armstrong was awarded a Congressional Gold Medal on July 21, 2009. In this video, he “shares some memories” of the journey. He starts the speech: “Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am in the position of a pilot without his checklist, so I’ll have to wing it. … [Prior to the Apollo missions,] no one knew what kind of person could be persuaded to take the trip. Prisoners were suggested. Soldiers could be ordered. Photographers could take pictures — and they’re expendable. Doctors understood the limits of human physiology. Finally, both sides picked pilots.” Watch the rest for an explanation of how the Apollo missions worked.

The BBC Interview

In 1970, Armstrong was interviewed by the BBC about what it was like to be on the Moon. “I’m quite certain that we’ll have such [lunar] bases in our lifetime, somewhat like the Antarctic stations and similar scientific outposts, continually manned.”

Stay Tuned

This post will be updated with more remembrances of Armstrong as the day continues.


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