Neil Armstrong, The First Man To Walk On The Moon, Has Died

Photo credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls.

From NBC’s Cosmic Log:

Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, died Saturday, weeks after heart surgery and days after his 82nd birthday.

His family reported the death at 2:45 p.m. ET. A statement said he died following complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures.

Armstrong commanded the Apollo 11 spacecraft that landed on the moon on July 20, 1969, and he radioed back to Earth the historic news: “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Here’s Armstrong in his Apollo days.

Photo credit: NASA

And on the moon.

Godspeed Neil Armstrong.

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  • GarandFan

    WRONG DOUG! The MSM – NBC, to be specific – you know, those people with “multiple layers of fact checkers” said it was NEIL YOUNG who died.

    IIRC, Neil Armstrong was that guy on the bicycle.

    • jim_m

      No. Neil Armstrong was the All American Boy. You’re thinking of Louie Armstrong

      • GarandFan

        No, no Jim. The guy with the bugle was Lance Armstrong. Common mistake! 😉

    • herddog505

      Hey, at least they didn’t alter the transcript to say that he said “that’s one small step for [white] man”.

  • Commander_Chico_Cognoscente

    Perhaps some of us will live to a time when the only living humans to have walked on the Moon will be Chinese.

    • That’ll be a good time for China. Sad time for us.

      Kind of makes you wonder, though, if our abandonment of space to spend the money on social issues which – after 40 years – haven’t budged much (and could be argued to have gotten worse) was a big mistake. At least the money spent on equipment and material for the moon shots was funneled back into the economy. Throwing the money where we did seems to have scattered it to the winds…

      I hope SpaceX manages to pull off what they’re attempting – and maybe even take it to the next level to a moon shot.

      • Commander_Chico_Cognoscente

        I don’t know why the USA stopped going to the Moon and on to Mars. Maybe part of it was the post-Vietnam inflation and “malaise,” part of it was the huge investment in the Shuttle, part of it was the lack of competition from the USSR in its last years. Part of it seems to be a scientific turning away from manned spaceflight as not delivering bang for the buck.

        I don’t think it was because of Head Start, Food Stamps, and No Child Left Behind.

        • A lot of politicians at the time were blathering about how the money was needed here on Earth – as if they were stuffing rockets full of gold bars and $100 bills and firing them off into space.

          Part of it was that they wanted the money for their own purposes – part of it was that the “Space Race” had been won, and though you might watch Usain Bolt (for example) for the time it takes for him to set a record – you’re not really interested in his life past that point. We got to the Moon. Whoopee. Anything else would have been an anticlimax, so why waste the money on it?

          Hell, there’s times I’m surprised we even got the Space Shuttle – and the only reason we got that is the folks pushing it lied like used car salesmen pumping up a Yugo to Ferrari status…

          If we’d kept investing in the technological base required for the advancement of manned space flight – which would have kept good paying jobs going in aerospace and related fields, with a lot of support jobs beyond that – instead of just handing out money for little or nothing in return, we might possibly have ended up with a lot more than we’ve got now. Or not – I can see the PC revolution shorting out because the minds that needed to create technical innovations got moved from electronics over to Aerospace instead.

          Maybe there was a tradeoff required. You could have Space, or you could have the Internet – but there wasn’t any way to have both?

          Eh. It’s all history, anyway. We’ve got what we’ve got. (Shrug.) Doesn’t mean I couldn’t wish for a lot more…

          • The whole Mercury/Gemini/Apollo series of programs were quick and dirty approaches to the problem/goal. Granted, we reaped huge knock on benefits from the money spent to develop those quick and dirty solutions.

            I’m glad to see the private sector stepping in, and hope that their efforts prove profitable.

          • herddog505

            With absolutely no denigration to NASA and the bright, courageous men who got us to the Moon, I’ve always thought that the space program should have been USAF turf. The Air Force was already on the way to space with the X-15 and the planned X-20, and had solid plans for a space station (MOLAB). I’d say that, had President Kennedy told General LeMay to put a manned bomber… er… a man… on the Moon and return him safely to the target… um… the Earth, I meant to say… he would have done so in cracking good time and style, with a spacecraft and NOT a capsule.

          • The trouble with that (speaking from a historical hindsight perspective) is that it would have been seen by the USSR as VERY provocative. And LeMay wasn’t exactly adverse to war – you could very well argue he was a bloodthirsty bastard who was itching to take on the USSR using nukes.

            Somehow, I don’t think that would have been good for any space efforts.

            (Besides, if you’re looking for long-term space activity, I’d have thought the Navy would be more appropriate. They’re used to being cooped up for long stretches in ships, while the AF tends to go home at the end of the day.)

            There’s a lot worse ways things could have gone than how they led to where we are now.

          • herddog505

            I would NEVER argue that LeMay was a bloodthirsty bastard who was itching to take on the USSR using nukes, because that’s a pretty apt description of the man and his motivation. I suggest that we “won” the Cuban Missile Crisis because Khrushchev was plagued by nightmares of thermonuclear hell and eternal torment at the hands of a short, stocky, mean-looking devil with an Ohio accent.

            At any rate, I see your point about the Navy.*


            (*) I’ve read somewhere that, when the Polaris program got going, LeMay had a model Polaris submarine built… with a SAC badge painted on it. He had a somewhat proprietary attitude toward strategic nuclear weapons.

          • SOMEWHAT? He’d have kept them all under SAC control, if he could – Army, Navy and Air Force. He was seriously pissed when he found out in the late ’40s that he didn’t have as many as he thought he had, and their ‘quality’ was a bit iffy. (References from “Making of the Atomic Bomb” and “Dark Sun” by Richard Rhodes.)

            if we’d been the USSR with their management style, a lot of heads would (literally) have rolled. (That’s with Beria as a substitute for LeMay.)

            BTW, I recommend “The Curve of Binding Energy” by McPhee – looking into the mind of Theodore Taylor as he explains his thinking on nuclear weapon design, if you’re into that sort of thing. Very accessable to the layman – and fascinating.

          • herddog505

            Thanks for the tip on the book.

            As for LeMay’s temper, he recounts in his autobiography that, when he took over SAC from General Kenney, he found that the command couldn’t organize a mission to “bomb” Wright-Pat, much less a target in Russia. No budget, no training, low maintenance standards, no sense of urgency. While I think he was very no-nonsense, I don’t get the idea that he was into witch hunts. A psycho couldn’t do the job that LeMay did with SAC.

          • Might have to get a bio of him then. You got any you’d recommend?

          • herddog505

            General Curtis LeMay and McKinlay Kantor. Mission With LeMay: My Story. New York: Doubleday, 1965.

            Three notes:

            1. General LeMay comes across as much more human in this than one would think, with a dry sense of humor and no hesitation to make fun of himself. For example, when recounting his first (blind) date with Helen Maitland (the future and only Mrs. LeMay), he recalls that she and her girlfriend were trying to decide which girl would go with which guy. “I’ll take the fat one…”

            2. For those interested in quality management (I work in QC), General LeMay has much worthwhile to say about the virtues of standard operating procedures, how they are developed, and how to convince people to embrace them;

            3. Kantor, his co-author, was a professional writer (he won a Pulitzer for his 1955 novel Andersonville) who apparently spent some time as a war correspondent in then-Lt. Col. LeMay’s bomber group.

          • Through the Wonders of Amazon, I found a used hardback copy for under $12 with shipping. It’s already bought. Thanks for the heads up!

          • herddog505

            Happy reading. I find it a very easy read and an interesting window into his life. Bloodthirsty warmonger or no, he was a fascinating man and, I think I can say, the perfect man for the job.

          • Every so often we’re lucky enough in this country to get the right man in the right place at the right time. For all the hate thrown at Bush, I don’t see Gore as being able to have done as well. Reagan was right, Carter was wrong.

            Sad to say, Obama sure hasn’t been up to the job. Hopefully, Romney can fix what Teleprompter-face broke.

          • Commander_Chico_Cognoscente

            That is ridiculous. Starfleet is commanded by an admiral, not a general. The Navy is the natural service for exploration of new worlds. Colonel Kirk? I don’t think so.

          • The Air Force is known for short-duration flights, the occasional global circumnavigation by B-52s and B2s being a real exception, not the rule. You won’t see any B-52 crews living in their planes, unsupplied, for weeks on end.

            I agree with Chico – a Navy model would be a more natural fit.

            Besides, look at the movie “Forbidden Planet” – THAT was a ‘Navy’ ship, not Air Force.

          • herddog505

            On the other hand, I suspect that the Klingons and Romulans would be a bit less troublesome if it was less “boldly go where no man has gone before” and more “fifteen minute alert”.

  • And another of the heroes of our youth passes away…

    Godspeed, sir.

  • herddog505

    Armstrong commanded the Apollo 11 spacecraft that landed on the moon on July 20, 1969, and he radioed back to Earth the historic news: “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

    There is some controversy about what Armstrong actually said. He INTENDED to say what NBC reports. However, millions (perhaps billions now) have heard him drop the “a”. Apparently, Australian computer programmer Peter Ford analyzed the audio and found the missing “a”, just spoken to quickly for the human ear to hear it.

    Meh. A man walked upon the surface of the Moon for the first time and, after making a brief observation about the soil, uttered some of the most historic words ever spoken. We all know what he meant.

    God speed, Neil Armstrong.

  • Guest

    President Choomie has his photo “tribute” to Niel Armstrong up on his site:
    A picture of-guess who?-Barack Obama, in silhouette looking up at the moon.

    Yes, as usual, it’s about him.

  • John_LC_Silvoney

    President Choomie has his photo “tribute” to Neil Armstrong up on his site:
    A picture of-guess who?-Barack Obama, in silhouette looking up at the moon.

    Yes, as usual, it’s about him.