CBS News reported that Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, has passed away “following complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures.” He was 82.
His family described him as "a reluctant American hero who always believed he was just doing his job."
Armstrong set foot on the moon on July 20, 1969, fulfilling the goal that had been set by President John F. Kennedy just eight years earlier. He was born in Wapakoneta, Ohio, in 1930.
Passionate about flying, he left Purdue University in 1950 when the Korean War broke out – and flew 78 combat missions as a naval aviator. He then became a test pilot and flew aircraft around – including the X-15 rocket plane, taking the powerful craft to 207,000 feet to the edge of space.
He was in the first group of civilian astronauts, and made his initial flight in 1966, aboard Gemini eight – in a mission that almost ended in disaster when a thruster on his craft stuck open, sending the ship whirling through space. Armstrong used a back-up system, stopped the one-revolution-per-second spin and made a successful emergency landing in the Pacific.
On July 16, 1969, a giant Saturn V rocket lumbered off the pad at the Kennedy Space Center, carrying the thirty-eight-year-old Armstrong and crewmates Buzz Aldrin and Mike Collins to the moon. “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed."
As PolicyMic Pundit Cory Suter explains, Armstrong went public again two years ago with his concerns about President Obama’s space policy that emphasized private companies developing spaceships. He testified before Congress, and in an e-mail to the Associated Press, that he had “substantial reservations.” Two dozen Apollo-era veterans and him signed a letter calling the plan a “misguided proposal that forces NASA out of human space operations for the foreseeable future.”
Neil is right that we lose something when we collectively subsidize SpaceX without being able to collectively share in all the benefits.