Neil Armstrong, an American national hero and the first man to walk on the Moon, passed away early today. The first born child of Stephen and Viola Armstrong, Ohio native Neil Armstrong was an Eagle Scout, naval aviator, test pilot, astronaut, college engineering professor, private pilot, and in his last few years a leader of those who stood up in opposition to ending the nation’s human space exploration efforts.
Neil Armstrong played many toles in his storied career in aerospace. According to “First Man” by James Hansen, “No astronaut played a more vital role in the development of flight simulators for Gemini and Apollo than did Armstrong”[Hansen, p. 225]. On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong, as commander of Apollo 11, piloted the lunar module Eagle to the first landing on the Moon. Before millions, later that day, he became the first man to walk on the Moon, stating as he stepped off the LEM, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” In the 1970’s, Astronaut Armstrong became professor Armstrong, teaching aerospace engineering at the University of Cincinnati in the 1970’s. He maintained his active flight status flying his Cessna 421. Throughout his life after the Apollo 11 mission, Neil Armstrong maintained a very low public profile, preserving his and his family’s privacy while handling his fame with dignity.
On May 12, 2010, Neil Armstrong broke his public silence and, along with former Apollo 17 Commander Gene Cernan and Apollo 13 Commander Jim Lovell, testified before the full Senate Commerce Committee in opposition to the Obama Administration’s efforts to end the nation’s human space flight program. That and subsequent efforts by Armstrong, Lovell, Cernan, and Tom Stafford became critical to future bipartisan legislation by the House and Senate, the 2010 NASA Authorization Act, which preserved a national means of human space exploration and established cislunar space as the next goal of human missions. Armstrong continued to testify before Congress in 2011 in support of a national human space program. In this, along with his many other endeavors, Neil Armstrong served his nation with distinction and honor.
Our deepest condolences go out to Carol Armstrong, his wife, and his family.