Monday 27 August 2012

The passing of a Hero

RIP Neil Armstrong 1930-2012

I wanted to write a whole piece about this man but just couldn't find the right words. I love those two pictures of him because they show Neil Armstrong as a man of humour, humility and humanity. He was an 'everyman' (if you'll excuse the male emphasis). He was both lucky to be in the right place for this mission but was also the perfect choice. Calm, steady and cool headed but not without passion or poetry.

He remains my Hero of the 20th Century not for himself but for the scientific achievement he represented; the culmination of an endeavour that while conceived in the politics of the Cold War ultimately united the world in admiration. For those of us that grew up after Apollo 11 the indelible reality is that we are now a space-faring race, and we belong amongst the stars.

"...we can divide all of history into two parts: before humans landed on the Moon, and after. It was not just an important moment, it was the moment, a defining, crystallizing slice of time that confirmed that we humans had become a space faring race." (Phil Plait, Bad Astronomy)


  1. A hero indeed. I remember watching the landing on TV as a child and wondering what was he thinking as he stepped on the moon. What courage to be the first, and what luck to be chosen.

  2. Was it Mike Collins who was on the same flight but never got to walk on the moon? Can you imagine that! All that way and he couldn't even hop out for 5 minutes (I think he was in the other craft orbiting the Moon while Armstrong and Aldrin had all the fun).

    1. In some ways Collins had the hard job. No person had ever been as isolated from his fellow man as the Command Module Pilot of Apollo 11, especially when his craft orbited behind the moon tens of thousands of miles from his team mates and out of contact with earth... and he had to be prepared to return alone if everything went wrong on the surface. Not an enviable responsibility but one that Collins performed admirably.


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