“That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind,” said the Neil Armstrong, the US astronaut who became the first person to walk on the moon. Unfortunately, the man who made the entire world proud of him died at 82, on Saturday, August 25th, due to complications from heart-bypass surgery he underwent earlier this month.
On July 20th, 1969, Apollo 11, the spacecraft commanded by Armstrong, landed on the moon. This was the most daring scientific expedition of the 20th century, and the event was marked by the famous words which remained crafted in history: “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.” Although he was there with a mission, he took a moment and left a patch to commemorate NASA astronauts and Soviet astronauts who had lost their lives in action. More than 600 million people listened and watched the moon landing. This was the largest audience for any historical event.
“It was special and memorable, but it was only instantaneous because there was work to do,” Armstrong told an Australian television interviewer this year.
Although Armstrong was a test pilot for NASA’s forerunner, a Navy fighter pilot and the first astronaut to land on the moon, celebrity didn’t affect him and he remained a modest man until the end of his days. Although he preferred to stay away from cameras, he went public in 2010 to express his concern about President Barack Obama‘s space policy that turned attention from the importance of a return to the moon, to private companies that build spaceships.
James Hansen, author of First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong, told CBS: “All of the attention that … the public put on stepping down that ladder on to the surface itself, Neil never could really understand why there was so much focus on that.”
After he ended his aeronautical career he was approached by different political groups. But unlike his colleagues John Glenn and Harrison Schmitt who chose to become US senators, he preferred to retreat to his quiet Ohio farm, feeding his soul with the amazing and breath-taking memories of his fulfilled career.
“Now and then I miss the excitement about being in the cockpit of an airplane and doing new things,” he said in an interview.