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He Stopped The World On July 20, 1969

August 25, 2012

He stopped the world when On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong put his left foot on the rocky Moon. It was the first human footprint on the Moon. Anyone who was alive on that day remembers when the world stopped to watch. Armstrong in a white spacesuit in front of a picture of the moonThat one hop down from the ladder onto the moon’s surface, represented the culmination of  dreamers, engineers, artists, writers and children throughout the world. That was 1969, I was in Los Angeles, working at Pace Magazine.  My dad had flown in for something, can’t remember what.  He was insistent on a “father daughter” excursion and wanted me to drive him around the city.  My magazine had been publishing background articles for moon landing and I was excited to finally see it happen.  But, alas no.  Dad decided he wanted to see Catalina Island, so off we went.  When Neil Armstrong hopped off that ladder, I was in a seaplane flying to Avalon.

Apollo 11 was the inspiration that ultimately landed me at NASA.  Working in the same building as Space Flight Medicine at Johnson Space Center, I was across the hall from the astronaut dentist.  A new co-worker ran up and whispered that Neil Armstrong was in the dentist chair.  I just nodded, I see these guys all the time and respect their privacy.  This new worker was excited and handed me an old astronaut group photograph. With reluctance, I walked across the hall and asked Neil if he would autograph the photo for my co-worker.  He was gracious and understanding and reached out his hand for the photo and pulled a pen out of his pocket.  He didn’t say anything, because he had dental cotton in his mouth.  I was embarrassed because I would never do that for myself.  My experience with NASA astronauts, puts Neil Armstrong among the few really gracious and humble.  I mourn another great loss to the select community of brave space pioneers in 2012.

On July 20, 1969, half a billion people — a sixth of the world’s population at the time — watched a ghostly black-and-white television image as Armstrong backed down the ladder of the lunar landing ship Eagle, planted his left foot on the moon’s surface, and said, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Neil Armstrong was the first human being to walk on the surface of the moon. He is an astronaut who flew on two space missions. The first was Gemini 8. The second mission was Apollo 11, which landed on the moon in 1969. Armstrong has also been an engineer, a pilot and a college professor.

Former astronaut Neil Armstrong has issued a strongly worded rebuke of President Barack Obama, criticizing the president for proposed revisions to the U.S.’ space program.

By PATRICK GAVIN | Updated: 4/14/10 12:54 PM EDT – Former astronaut Neil Armstrong has issued a strongly worded rebuke of President Barack Obama, criticizing the president for proposed revisions to the U.S.’ space program.  Armstrong, along with astronauts James Lovell and Eugene Cernan, called the proposal “devastating” in a letter obtained by NBC News. Read below for the full text:

“The United States entered into the challenge of space exploration under President Eisenhower’s first term, however, it was the Soviet Union who excelled in those early years,” the letter begins.”Under the bold vision of Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon, and with the overwhelming approval of the American people, we rapidly closed the gap in the final third of the 20th century, and became the world leader in space exploration. …

“When President Obama recently released his budget for NASA, he proposed a slight increase in total funding, substantial research and technology development, an extension of the International Space Station operation until 2020, long range planning for a new but undefined heavy lift rocket and significant funding for the development of commercial access to low earth orbit.

“Although some of these proposals have merit, the accompanying decision to cancel the Constellation program, its Ares 1 and Ares V rockets, and the Orion spacecraft, is devastating.

“America’s only path to low Earth orbit and the International Space Station will now be subject to an agreement with Russia to purchase space on their Soyuz (at a price of over 50 million dollars per seat with significant increases expected in the near future) until we have the capacity to provide transportation for ourselves. The availability of a commercial transport to orbit as envisioned in the President’s proposal cannot be predicted with any certainty, but is likely to take substantially longer and be more expensive than we would hope.

“It appears that we will have wasted our current ten plus billion dollar investment in Constellation and, equally importantly, we will have lost the many years required to recreate the equivalent of what we will have discarded.

For The United States, the leading space faring nation for nearly half a century, to be without carriage to low Earth orbit and with no human exploration capability to go beyond Earth orbit for an indeterminate time into the future, destines our nation to become one of second or even third rate stature. While the President’s plan envisages humans traveling away from Earth and perhaps toward Mars at some time in the future, the lack of developed rockets and spacecraft will assure that ability will not be available for many years.

Without the skill and experience that actual spacecraft operation provides, the USA is far too likely to be on a long downhill slide to mediocrity. America must decide if it wishes to remain a leader in space. If it does, we should institute a program which will give us the very best chance of achieving that goal.

Neil Armstrong

Commander, Apollo 11

James Lovell

Commander, Apollo 13

Eugene Cernan

Commander, Apollo 17

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