Neil Armstrong Dead at 82
Armstrong had a long career of service to his nation both in the military and NASA. During the Korean War he was a decorated pilot who flew 78 missions in combat. At Purdue University and the University of South Carolina he worked to earn a masters degree in aeronautical engineering.
He then became a very successful test pilot before entering the astronaut training program. While a test pilot he was widely considered the best of the best.
At NASA he is of course best known for Apollo 11 but he also had great success during the Gemini program, most notably on the Gemini 8 mission when he calmly reacted to what could have been a disastrous failure and brought the spacecraft safely home.
It is amazing to consider that the smartphone you can read this post on has many times the computing power of the entire Apollo spacecraft. If you are reading on a laptop you likely have equivalent computing power to all of Mission Control at Houston.
Indeed if you listen during the videos below you will hear the words “twelve oh two” being spoken. That was a signal from the Eagle lander to NASA that the landing computer had overloaded and Armstrong had to take over and make a manual landing.
When you hear a voice calling out decreasing numbers, that is Buzz Aldrin reading how much fuel was left, and as you’ll notice it was a very close call. The mission came within seconds of being scrubbed.
While I did not see it live the moment still gives me chills as the world united for a time into a true family of man.
Consider just how fast we accomplished what we did.
In 1958 we launched our first probe into space
In 1961 we sent our first astronaut into a sub orbital flight
In 1962 we sent our first astronaut into an orbital flight
In 1966 we had our first successful docking (which was the rough equivalent of having two people stand in the front and back yards of your home, each tossing a ball over the roof and having them meet)
In 1969 we landed on the moon.
11 years from start to finish.
Imagine that we did the same thing now… we start in 2012 with an idea and by 2024 we are landing men on Mars.
Sadly I doubt it will happen.
But here are some videos of the accomplishments of the past.