Monday, August 27, 2012

Neil Armstrong, on Space Exploration

Neil Armstrong: modest man, large footprint in time and space
[...] After commanding the Apollo 11 mission, Armstrong took a desk job at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, then taught engineering at the University of Cincinnati, served on several corporate boards, and worked out of his farm in southwest Ohio. He said he regretted not spending the time he wanted to with his family.

"I am, and ever will be, a white socks, pocket protector, nerdy engineer," he said in a rare public appearance in February 2000, cited by The Associated Press. "And I take a substantial amount of pride in the accomplishments of my profession."

He also regretted that the US space program did not make more progress than it did. "I fully expected that by the end of the century we would have achieved substantially more than we did," he told "60 Minutes." The end of the cold war also marked the end of the drive for space dominance, he said. "When we lost the competition, we lost the public will to continue."

In 2010, he came out of retirement to make a case before the US Congress to restore funding and a vision for the US space program and a workforce he described as "confused and disconsolate" by the termination of the 30-year space shuttle program, layoffs of thousands of aerospace workers, and the absence of a new US space strategy.

Public policy must be guided by the recognition that we live in a technologically driven world, he told a House panel. "Our choices are to lead, try to keep up, or get out of the way" he said. "A lead once lost is very difficult to regain."

"Neil Armstrong understood that we should reach beyond the stars," said Sen. Bill Nelson (D) of Florida, a former NASA shuttle astronaut, in a statement. "His 'one giant leap for mankind' was taken by a giant of a man." [...]

Also see:

R.I.P. Neil Armstrong

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