Today, Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon has died at the age of 82. One of only 12 men to make that incredible walk, his name is known around the world and has inspired generations of scientists, engineers and others, with myself counted among them.
When the initial launch site proved unsuitable, Armstrong as commander was responsible for finding an alternative. By the time an alternate site was found and arrived at, the landing module had only 20 seconds of fuel remaining, with Armstrong’s skill as a pilot essential in completing the legacy set out by John F. Kennedy at the start of the decade. 2 1/2 hours were spent on the surface of the moon, with valuable insight gained to help future missions.
He spent the rest of his life uncomfortable with the fame he earnt, preferring to live in privacy, occasionally honouring students by emerging and teaching engineering. As his family have said in the press release announcing his death:
Neil Armstrong was also a reluctant American hero who always believed he was just doing his job. He served his Nation proudly, as a navy fighter pilot, test pilot, and astronaut. He also found success back home in his native Ohio in business and academia, and became a community leader in Cincinnati.
He remained an advocate of aviation and exploration throughout his life and never lost his boyhood wonder of these pursuits.
As much as Neil cherished his privacy, he always appreciated the expressions of good will from people around the world and from all walks of life.
No one has set foot on the moon since 1972, 40 years ago. Are the group of 12 that started with Armstrong destined to be the only 12 who will ever see the lunar surface with their own eyes?