Saturday, August 25, 2012
RIP Neil Armstrong
The first man to set foot on the moon died today at the age of 82. The Apollo missions to the moon defined my earlier childhood. Unless you lived through it, I think it's hard to understand how these moon landings captivated the entire world. I've never experienced anything like it since, and cannot imagine I ever will.
It likely never occurs to those who grew up in the post Apollo world, that these moon missions could have ended in disaster. As a small child, it certainly never occurred to me that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin could have been stranded on the moon. But it occurred to the astronauts, all the adults around the world watching on TV and it occurred to NASA and the Nixon White House. The technology was so primitive (our smart phones have exponentially more computing power than anything in their space craft) that any number of easily imagined mishaps could have left both men abandoned on the moon forever. There was no way to rescue them.
Nixon had a speech prepared in the event that LEM rocket didn't fire. You can read the speech never given here.