Permanent Human Settlement of the Earth, Space and Ocean Frontiers

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Greatest Astronaut

One of my true heroes in my life is the late Neil Armstrong. Even though hundreds of astronauts and dozens of space missions have come and gone since the epic first manned landing on the moon in 1969, Neil has never been replaced as my favorite astronaut. While working at NASA over all of these years I've had the opportunity to meet many astronauts on many different levels, and although I never met Neil, he still holds the top slot in my heart and mind. There are many things that I really appreciated about Neil, for instance, he had more reason than anyone to cash in on his fame. The Neil resisted that to the end, unlike some of his other astronaut buddies who did anything and everything to get more recognition and money. Also appreciated his coolness as he landed his lander on the moon with alarms going off and running out of fuel, Neil showed us all that he had the right stuff as he floated about the lunar landscape picking just the right place to land. But my favorite memory of Neil Armstrong is the fact that in the end he was really an Explorer. He was not an actor in any way, he was just an Explorer doing his job on behalf of all the rest of us watching him on planet Earth. And because Neil was just an Explorer and not an actor, I love the fact that as he took his first step on the lunar surface, Neil actually blew his only line! He said, it is recorded for all of history to always hear, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." Of course Neil left out the little word "a", which made all the difference in the meaning of what he said. What he said made no sense at all grammatically, even though we all knew what he was trying to say, "That's one small step for 'a' man, one giant leap for mankind." But you know what that's pretty small stuff in the life of a truly great man that, as for me I will certainly miss. Neil, thank you for what you did, but more than that thank you for the life that you lived when you came home! (Side note: the picture that you see here was the first picture ever taken of a human being in a habitat on the surface of another world.)

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