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Was Neil Armstrong misquoted?
Sign in. All Football. Patrick Knox. The moment was 50 years old on July 20 By then, his hair was turning silver. A former test pilot, he wore aviator glasses and was dressed casually, in a blue short-sleeved shirt with a pen clipped to his pocket. He looked like the professor of engineering he had become.
Armstrong was instead consumed with science and its many facets. On the ride to the zoo, he asked me about Iran, a country I had covered for almost three decades. Armstrong recalled how Americanized Iran was; he asked me to describe my trips to post-revolutionary Iran and what had changed. He was initially not a big talker, given the space his fame would have allowed him to fill. He asked me more questions, when all I really wanted was to know what the moon felt like.
But he never once mentioned his past. After sufficient descent, he turned back toward the landing area, and landed, just missing Joshua trees at the south end. It was the longest X flight in both flight time and length of the ground track. Many of the test pilots at Edwards praised Armstrong's engineering ability. Milt Thompson said he was "the most technically capable of the early X pilots". Bill Dana said Armstrong "had a mind that absorbed things like a sponge". Those who flew for the Air Force tended to have a different opinion, especially people like Chuck Yeager and Pete Knight , who did not have engineering degrees.
Knight said that pilot-engineers flew in a way that was "more mechanical than it is flying", and gave this as the reason why some pilot-engineers got into trouble: their flying skills did not come naturally. On April 24, , Armstrong flew for the only time with Chuck Yeager.
In his autobiography, Yeager wrote that he knew the lake bed was unsuitable for landings after recent rains, but Armstrong insisted on flying out anyway. As they attempted a touch-and-go , the wheels became stuck and they had to wait for rescue. As Armstrong told the story, Yeager never tried to talk him out of it and they made a first successful landing on the east side of the lake. Then Yeager told him to try again, this time a bit slower. On the second landing, they became stuck, provoking Yeager to fits of laughter. On May 21, , Armstrong was involved in the "Nellis Affair".
He was sent in an F to inspect Delamar Dry Lake in southern Nevada, again for emergency landings. He misjudged his altitude, and did not realize that the landing gear had not fully extended. As he touched down, the landing gear began to retract; Armstrong applied full power to abort the landing, but the ventral fin and landing gear door struck the ground, damaging the radio and releasing hydraulic fluid.
Without radio communication, Armstrong flew south to Nellis Air Force Base , past the control tower, and waggled his wings, the signal for a no-radio approach. The loss of hydraulic fluid caused the tailhook to release, and upon landing, he caught the arresting wire attached to an anchor chain, and dragged the chain along the runway.
It took thirty minutes to clear the runway and rig another arresting cable. Armstrong telephoned Edwards and asked for someone to collect him. Milt Thompson was sent in an FB, the only two-seater available, but a plane Thompson had never flown. With great difficulty, Thompson made it to Nellis, where a strong crosswind caused a hard landing and the left main tire suffered a blowout. The runway was again closed to clear it, and Bill Dana was sent to Nellis in a T, but he almost landed long.
The Nellis base operations office then decided that to avoid any further problems, it would be best to find the three NASA pilots ground transport back to Edwards. In June , Armstrong was selected for the U. As a NASA civilian test pilot, Armstrong was ineligible to become one of its astronauts at this time, as selection was restricted to military test pilots. Air Force, and on March 15, , he was selected by the U.
Air Force as one of seven pilot-engineers who would fly the X when it got off the design board. This time, selection was open to qualified civilian test pilots. After he returned from Seattle on June 4, he applied to become an astronaut. His application arrived about a week past the June 1, , deadline, but Dick Day, a flight simulator expert with whom Armstrong had worked closely at Edwards, saw the late arrival of the application and slipped it into the pile before anyone noticed.
The selections were kept secret until three days later, although newspaper reports had circulated since earlier that year that he would be selected as the "first civilian astronaut". Compared with the Mercury Seven astronauts, they were younger,  and had more impressive academic credentials. It finally lifted off on August Cooper and Conrad practiced a "phantom rendezvous", carrying out the maneuver without a target.
Henceforth, each Gemini mission was commanded by a member of Armstrong's group, with a member of Scott's group as the pilot. Conrad would be Armstrong's backup this time, and Richard F. Gordon Jr. Valentina Tereshkova of the Soviet Union had become the first civilian—and first woman—nearly three years earlier aboard Vostok 6 when it launched on June 16, They were replaced by the backup crew of Tom Stafford and Gene Cernan , while Jim Lovell and Buzz Aldrin moved up from the backup crew of Gemini 10 to become the backup for Gemini 9,  and would eventually fly Gemini Gemini 8 launched on March 16, It was the most complex mission yet, with a rendezvous and docking with an uncrewed Agena target vehicle , and the planned second American space walk EVA by Scott.
Following the earlier advice of Mission Control, they undocked, but the roll increased dramatically until they were turning about once per second, indicating a problem with Gemini's attitude control.
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Mission rules dictated that once this system was turned on, the spacecraft had to reenter at the next possible opportunity. It was later thought that damaged wiring caused one of the thrusters to stick in the on position. A few people in the Astronaut Office, including Walter Cunningham , felt that Armstrong and Scott "had botched their first mission".
These criticisms were unfounded; no malfunction procedures had been written, and it was possible to turn on only both RCS rings, not one or the other. Kranz considered this the mission's most important lesson. The Agena was later reused as a docking target by Gemini In Armstrong's final assignment in the Gemini program, he was the back-up Command Pilot for Gemini 11 ; this was announced two days after the landing of Gemini 8.
Having trained for two flights, Armstrong was quite knowledgeable about the systems and took on a teaching role for the rookie backup Pilot, William Anders. Following the flight, President Lyndon B. Johnson asked Armstrong and his wife to take part in a day goodwill tour of South America. In Paraguay, Armstrong greeted dignitaries in their local language, Guarani ; in Brazil he talked about the exploits of the Brazilian-born Alberto Santos-Dumont. The astronauts chatted with the assembled dignitaries until , when Carpenter went to the airport, and the others returned to the Georgetown Inn, where they each found messages to phone the MSC.
Armstrong and the group spent the rest of the night drinking scotch and discussing what had happened. The first thing Slayton said was, "The guys who are going to fly the first lunar missions are the guys in this room. To Armstrong it came as no surprise—the room was full of veterans of Project Gemini, the only people who could fly the lunar missions. Slayton talked about the planned missions and named Armstrong to the backup crew for Apollo 9 , which at that stage was planned as a medium Earth orbit test of the combined lunar module and command and service module.
The crew assignment was officially announced November 20, Doctors diagnosed the problem as a bony growth between his fifth and sixth vertebrae, requiring surgery.
Nicknamed the "Flying Bedsteads", they simulated the Moon's one-sixth gravity using a turbofan engine to support five-sixths of the craft's weight. Later analysis suggested that if he had ejected half a second later, his parachute would not have opened in time. His only injury was from biting his tongue. The LLRV was completely destroyed. Aldrin and Armstrong trained for a variety of scenarios that could develop during a real lunar landing.
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After thinking it over for a day, Armstrong told Slayton he would stick with Aldrin, as he had no difficulty working with him and thought Lovell deserved his own command. A press conference on April 14, , gave the design of the LM cabin as the reason for Armstrong's being first; the hatch opened inwards and to the right, making it difficult for the LM pilot, on the right-hand side, to exit first. At the time of their meeting, the four men did not know about the hatch consideration. The first knowledge of the meeting outside the small group came when Kraft wrote his book.
Slayton added, "Secondly, just on a pure protocol basis, I figured the commander ought to be the first guy out I changed it as soon as I found they had the time line that showed that. Bob Gilruth approved my decision. The Apollo command module was relatively roomy compared with the Gemini spacecraft. None of the Apollo 11 crew suffered space sickness , as some members of previous crews had. Armstrong was especially glad about this, as he had been prone to motion sickness as a child and could experience nausea after long periods of aerobatics. Apollo 11's objective was to land safely on the Moon, rather than to touch down at a precise location.
Three minutes into the lunar descent, Armstrong noted that craters were passing about two seconds too early, which meant the LM Eagle would probably touch down several miles kilometres beyond the planned landing zone. The first was a code alarm, and even with their extensive training, neither Armstrong nor Aldrin knew what this code meant. They promptly received word from CAPCOM Charles Duke in Houston that the alarms were not a concern; the and alarms were caused by executive overflows in the lunar module computer. In , Aldrin said the overflows were caused by his own counter-checklist choice of leaving the docking radar on during the landing process, causing the computer to process unnecessary radar data.
When it did not have enough time to execute all tasks, the computer dropped the lower-priority ones, triggering the alarms. Aldrin said he decided to leave the radar on in case an abort was necessary when re-docking with the Apollo command module; he did not realize it would cause the processing overflows. When Armstrong noticed they were heading toward a landing area that seemed unsafe, he took manual control of the LM and attempted to find a safer area. This took longer than expected, and longer than most simulations had taken.
After a second pause, Duke acknowledged the landing with, "We copy you down, Eagle. The Eagle has landed. They then returned to the checklist of contingency tasks, should an emergency liftoff become necessary. We copy you on the ground. You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We're breathing again. Thanks a lot. The flight plan called for a crew rest period before leaving the module, but Armstrong asked for this be moved to earlier in the evening, Houston time. When he and Aldrin were ready to go outside, Eagle was depressurized, the hatch was opened, and Armstrong made his way down the ladder.
He turned and set his left boot on the lunar surface at UTC July 21, ,  then said, "That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind. Armstrong prepared his famous epigram on his own. Most people don't realize how difficult the mission was. So it didn't seem to me there was much point in thinking of something to say if we'd have to abort landing.
Recordings of Armstrong's transmission do not provide evidence for the indefinite article "a" before "man", though NASA and Armstrong insisted for years that static obscured it. Armstrong stated he would never make such a mistake, but after repeated listenings to recordings, he eventually conceded he must have dropped the "a".
Hansen , Armstrong's authorized biographer, presented these findings to Armstrong and NASA representatives, who conducted their own analysis. When Armstrong made his proclamation, Voice of America was rebroadcast live by the BBC and many other stations worldwide. They began their tasks of investigating how easily a person could operate on the lunar surface. Armstrong unveiled a plaque commemorating the flight, and with Aldrin, planted the flag of the United States.
Although Armstrong had wanted the flag to be draped on the flagpole,  it was decided to use a metal rod to hold it horizontally. He spoke for about a minute, after which Armstrong responded for about thirty seconds. The mission was planned to the minute, with the majority of photographic tasks performed by Armstrong with the single Hasselblad camera.
After they re-entered the LM, the hatch was closed and sealed. While preparing for liftoff, Armstrong and Aldrin discovered that, in their bulky space suits, they had broken the ignition switch for the ascent engine; using part of a pen, they pushed in the circuit breaker to start the launch sequence.
After being released from an day quarantine to ensure that they had not picked up any infections or diseases from the Moon, the crew was feted across the United States and around the world as part of a day "Giant Leap" tour. The tour began on August 13, when the three astronauts spoke and rode in ticker-tape parades in their honor in New York and Chicago, with an estimated six million attendees.
Armstrong was the first westerner to see the supersonic Tupolev Tu and was given a tour of the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center , which he described as "a bit Victorian in nature". Shortly after Apollo 11, Armstrong announced that he did not plan to fly in space again. He took a heavy teaching load, taught core classes, and created two graduate-level classes: aircraft design and experimental flight mechanics. He was considered a good teacher, and a tough grader.
His research activities during this time did not involve his work at NASA, as he did not want to give the appearance of favoritism; he later regretted the decision. After teaching for eight years, Armstrong resigned in When the university changed from an independent municipal university to a state school, bureaucracy increased. He did not want to be a part of the faculty collective bargaining group, so he decided to teach half-time. According to Armstrong, he had the same amount of work but received half his salary. Employees at the university did not know why he left.
In , after an explosion aboard Apollo 13 aborted its lunar landing, Armstrong was part of Edgar Cortright 's investigation of the mission. He produced a detailed chronology of the flight. He determined that a volt thermostat switch in an oxygen tank, which was supposed to have been replaced with a volt version, led to the explosion. Many NASA managers, including Armstrong, opposed the recommendation, since only the thermostat switch had caused the problem. They lost the argument and the tanks were redesigned.
Armstrong was made vice chairman of the commission, and held private interviews with contacts he had developed over the years to help determine the cause of the disaster. He helped limit the committee's recommendations to nine, believing that if there were too many, NASA would not act on them. Armstrong was appointed to a fourteen-member commission by President Reagan to develop a plan for American civilian spaceflight in the 21st century.
Thomas O. Paine , with whom Armstrong had worked during the Apollo program. The group published a book titled Pioneering the Space Frontier: The Report on the National Commission on Space , recommending a permanent lunar base by , and sending people to Mars by The recommendations were largely ignored, overshadowed by the Challenger disaster.
Armstrong and his wife attended the memorial service for the victims of the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster in , at the invitation of President George W. The first company to successfully approach him was Chrysler , for whom he appeared in advertising starting in January Armstrong thought they had a strong engineering division, and they were in financial difficulty. In addition to his duties as a spokesman, he also served on the board of directors of several companies. The first company board Armstrong joined was Gates Learjet , chairing their technical committee.
He flew their new and experimental jets and even set a climb and altitude record for business jets. They were interested in nuclear power and wanted to increase the company's technical competence. He served on the board of Taft Broadcasting , also based in Cincinnati. Armstrong joined Thiokol 's board in , after he was vice-chair of the Rogers Commission; the Space Shuttle Challenger was destroyed due to a problem with the Thiokol-manufactured solid rocket boosters.
He served on additional aerospace boards, first United Airlines in , and later Eaton Corporation in He chaired the board through the company's merger with EDO Corporation , until his retirement in In , professional expedition leader Mike Dunn organized a trip to take men he deemed the "greatest explorers" to the North Pole.
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They arrived at the Pole on April 6, Armstrong said he was curious to see what it looked like from the ground, as he had seen it only from the Moon. Armstrong's family described him as a "reluctant American hero". He was a humble person, and that's the way he remained after his lunar flight, as well as before. Michael Collins said in his book Carrying the Fire that when Armstrong moved to a dairy farm to become a college professor, it was like he "retreated to his castle and pulled up the drawbridge". Armstrong found this amusing, and said, " Andrew Chaikin says in A Man on the Moon that Armstrong kept a low profile but was not a recluse, citing his participation in interviews, advertisements for Chrysler, and hosting a cable television series.
Armstrong guarded the use of his name, image, and famous quote. When it was launched in , MTV wanted to use his quote in its station identification , with the American flag replaced with the MTV logo, but he refused the use of his voice and likeness. The lawsuit was settled out of court for an undisclosed sum, which Armstrong donated to Purdue. For many years, he wrote letters congratulating new Eagle Scouts on their accomplishment, but decided to quit the practice in the s because he felt the letters should be written by people who knew the scout.
This contributed to the myth of his reclusiveness. Around , he found out his signatures were being sold online, and that most of them were forgeries, and stopped giving autographs. Armstrong was approached by groups from both political parties but he declined the offers. He described his political leanings as favoring states' rights and opposing the United States acting as the "world's policeman". When Armstrong applied at a local Methodist church to lead a Boy Scout troop in the late s, he gave his religious affiliation as " deist ". Congress in which he thanked them for giving him the opportunity to see some of the grandest views of the Creator.
In March , the State Department responded by issuing a message to embassies and consulates in Muslim countries saying that Armstrong "has not converted to Islam". Part of the confusion arose from the similarity between the names of Armstrong's American residence in Lebanon, Ohio , and the country of Lebanon , which has a majority Muslim population. He was made the first freeman of the burgh , and happily declared the town his home. Armstrong flew light aircraft for pleasure. He enjoyed gliders and before the moon flight had earned a gold badge with two diamonds from the International Gliding Commission.
Well into his 70s he continued to fly engineless aircraft. While working at his farm near Lebanon, Ohio, in November , Armstrong jumped off the back of his grain truck and his wedding ring was caught in the wheel, tearing off the tip of his left hand's ring finger. He collected the severed digit and packed it in ice, and surgeons reattached it at the Jewish Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky.
Armstrong and his first wife, Janet, separated in ,  and divorced in , after 38 years of marriage. She said little to Armstrong, but two weeks later he called her to ask what she was doing. He lived in Indian Hill, Ohio. Sizemore, unable to retrieve the hair, donated the proceeds to charity. Armstrong underwent bypass surgery on August 7, , to relieve coronary disease.
Armstrong's family released a statement describing him as a "reluctant American hero [who had] served his nation proudly, as a navy fighter pilot, test pilot, and astronaut While we mourn the loss of a very good man, we also celebrate his remarkable life and hope that it serves as an example to young people around the world to work hard to make their dreams come true, to be willing to explore and push the limits, and to selflessly serve a cause greater than themselves.
For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.
Buzz Aldrin called Armstrong "a true American hero and the best pilot I ever knew", and said he was disappointed that they would not be able to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing together in A tribute was held for Armstrong on September 13, at Washington National Cathedral , whose Space Window depicts the Apollo 11 mission and holds a sliver of Moon rock amid its stained-glass panels. In his eulogy, Charles Bolden praised Armstrong's "courage, grace, and humility". Cernan recalled Armstrong's low-fuel approach to the Moon: "When the gauge says empty, we all know there's a gallon or two left in the tank!
Collins led prayers. Armstrong then called on Conrad to solve the problem, which he did, and the mission proceeded. In July , after observations of the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing, The New York Times reported on details of a medical malpractice suit Armstrong's family had filed against Mercy Health—Fairfield Hospital , where he died. When Armstrong appeared to be recovering from his bypass surgery, nurses removed the wires connected to his temporary pacemaker.
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He began to bleed internally and his blood pressure dropped. Doctors took him to the hospital's catheterization lab, and only later began operating. Two of the three physicians who reviewed the medical files during the lawsuit called this a serious error, saying surgery should have begun immediately; experts the Times talked to, while qualifying their judgement by noting that they were unable to review the specific records in the case, said that taking a patient in those circumstances to the operating room generally gave them the highest chance of survival.
The hospital, fearing the bad publicity that would result from being accused of negligently causing the death of a revered figure such as Armstrong, agreed to pay as long as the family never spoke about the suit or the settlement. She reportedly felt that her husband would have been opposed to taking legal action.
Robert H. Armstrong and his Apollo 11 crewmates were the recipients of the Langley Gold Medal from the Smithsonian Institution. Hill Lifetime Space Achievement Award. Eisenhower on March 10, , in a ceremony attended by Lovell and Cernan. Purdue University announced in October , that its new engineering building would be named Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering ;  the building was dedicated on October 27, , during a ceremony at which Armstrong was joined by fourteen other Purdue astronauts.
Armstrong Flight Research Center in Delivered to the Navy on September 23, , it is a modern oceanographic research platform supporting a wide range of activities by academic groups. Armstrong , was published in For many years, he turned down biography offers from authors such as Stephen Ambrose and James A.
Michener , but agreed to work with James R. Hansen after reading one of Hansen's other biographies. In July , Armstrong's sons put his collection of memorabilia up for sale, including his Boy Scout cap, and various flags and medals flown on his space missions. Armstrong donated his papers to Purdue. In a Space Foundation survey, Armstrong was ranked as the 1 most popular space hero;  and in , Flying magazine ranked him 1 on its list of 51 Heroes of Aviation.
In , he said that a human mission to Mars would be easier than the lunar challenge of the s. In , he made a rare public criticism of the decision to cancel the Ares I launch vehicle and the Constellation Moon landing program. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other uses, see Neil Armstrong disambiguation. American astronaut; first human to walk on the Moon.
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