Tag Archives: Neil Armstrong

See the Rare Photo of Neil Armstrong on the Moon


There is only one photograph of Neil Armstrong walking on the moon, and in it, he has his back to the camera.

The first man to set foot on a planetary body other than Earth was not camera shy. It was just that for most of the time he and Buzz Aldrin were exploring the moon in July 1969, the checklist called for Armstrong to have their only camera.

When the news broke Saturday that Armstrong, 82, had passed away, it is likely that many people’s memories of the first man on the moon were of black and white television images or color film stills. If they did recall a photo captured during the Apollo 11 moonwalk, it was almost certainly one of Aldrin, whether it was of him saluting the flag or looking down at his bootprint.

In fact, perhaps the most iconic photo taken of an astronaut on the surface of the moon is also of Aldrin. A posed shot, he is facing the camera with the reflection of his photographer, Armstrong, caught in Aldrin’s golden helmet visor.

Of course, there were photographs taken of Neil Armstrong at other points during the moon flight, and on his previous mission, Gemini 8. Cameras were ready when he was named an astronaut seven years before walking on the moon, and were more than ever present after he returned to Earth as a history-making hero.

A few of those other photos ran alongside obituaries in the numerous newspapers that told of Armstrong’s death in their Sunday editions. But they — the photos, not necessarily the obituaries — only told part of the story. A great many lesser seen photos capture Armstrong as the research pilot, astronaut, engineer and, as his family described in a statement, “a reluctant American hero.”

To help illustrate that record, collectSPACE.com asked RetroSpaceImages.com to search its extensive archives of NASA photographs and pick out those that showed the Armstrong that the public didn’t always get to see. The three dozen photos they chose have been presented chronologically, with one exception: The gallery begins with the rare photo of Neil Armstrong walking on the moon. Where are space shuttle Atlantis’ launch director and mission management team today? Continue reading at collectSPACE.com.

This article originally published at Space.com

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/08/27/rare-photo-neil-armstrong/

Mars Rover Tracks Are Like Neil Armstrong’s Moon Bootprints


NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity is making tracks on the Red Planet that call to mind the groundbreaking footprints left on the moon by Neil Armstrong more than 40 years ago, a rover scientist said Monday.

Neil Armstong, who became the first person to walk on the lunar surface on July 20, 1969, died Saturday at the age of 82. He and his Apollo 11 crewmate, Buzz Aldrin, left the first human imprints on the moon in the form of bootprints indented into the lunar dust everywhere they walked (or hopped, since the moon has one-sixth Earth’s gravity).

Now, one of NASA’s latest endeavors, the Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity, is making a similar impression on another planetary body. The rover landed on Mars Aug. 5 (PDT), and made its first test drive on Aug. 22.

“An iconic image of the mission” shows “four scour marks with wheel tracks,” Curiosity chief scientist John Grotzinger of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory said Monday during a news briefing in Pasadena, Calif. He compared that photo to images of the footprints left by Armstrong on the moon: “I think instead of a human, it’s a robot pretty much doing the same thing.”

Grotzinger was asked by a journalist whether the Curiosity mission bore any resemblance to the Apollo 11 journey taken by Armstrong, along with Aldrin and the mission’s Command Module pilot, Michael Collins.

“The analogy is a terrific one,” Grotzinger replied.

Curiosity, a car-size rover that cost $2.5 billion to build and operate, is beginning a two-year mission to explore Mars’ Gale Crater for hints that the Red Planet may have ever been habitable to microbial life. The project is NASA’s most audacious robotic mission to another world — just as ambitious, in some ways, as the Apollo flight that put Armstrong on the moon.

This article originally published at Space.com

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/08/28/mars-rover-neil-armstrong/

Neil Armstrong Took the Hardest Step for All of Us


Mashable OP-ED: This post reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily those of Mashable as a publication.

When Neil Armstrong died today at the age of 82, we lost a beacon, a somewhat distant and fading light that remained present enough to remind us what’s possible. Armstrong was the first man — human— to ever set foot on the surface of the moon, and when he did, he spoke words that instantly lifted a generation’s eyes to the skies: “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.”

The moment, which I witnessed when I was just five years old, changed me forever.

Now, back then, I didn’t even want to see the moment. I was tired and the Apollo 11 astronauts were not even scheduled to step onto the Moon’s surface until nearly midnight. My father, though, knew it would be a historic event and made me and my seven-year-old sister do laps around the coffee table until the big moment.

As you can see from the video, it was not an HD moment. The black and white feed was grainy, the audio clipped and our tube television set was 25 inches — postage-stamp-sized by today’s standards. Even so, I could see Armstrong walking carefully down the steps and then pausing as his foot touched the surface to say the famous line. Perhaps the line was scripted — it was certainly timed perfectly — but I think Armstrong was also primed to say something momentous because he knew this was his and the world’s brightest moment.

Being five, I didn’t think much of what he said. Maybe because I couldn’t yet think in those poetic terms (I was still reading Fun with Dick and Jane, after all). Still, from that moment on, I was smitten with space. In fact, much of the world was for a while. I recall that the local Mobil station even gave out flat sheets of cardboard that you could build-into 10-inch lunar landers. I spent hours making mine.

The Apollo missions continued, but Armstrong did not fly again. He worked with NASA for a number of years after Apollo 11, but eventually left NASA to work in business and even served as pitchman for companies like Chrysler.

For much of America, though, Armstrong faded into the background as his Apollo 11 Lunar Module pilot Buzz Aldrin (who followed him onto the moon’s surface that July night in 1969) became more and more present. Just a couple of years ago Aldrin competed in Dancing with the Stars.

Armstrong did not seem like the type to compete on a reality television show. In fact, in recent years he appeared more and more taciturn. It was as if he were angry. Perhaps he was frustrated that the U.S. had, after abandoning manned moon and Mars missions, even walked away from running its own manned spaceflight program.

That’s just conjecture on my part, though. The truth is, Armstrong’s heroic accomplishment on July 20, 1969 may have been enough for the quiet Ohioan. After conquering the stars and moon, what else is there left to do, really?

Today, we marvel at the mechanical brilliance of the Mars Rover Curiosity as it slowly creeps across the red, dusty surface of Mars, and we’ll be sad if it malfunctions. Yet, it’s still just a very smart machine and not a flesh-and-blood human who took the ultimate risk: Stepping inside a rocket and blasting off into airless space to step firmly on sphere that, with just 1/6 the earth’s gravity, seemed ready to cast him back out into space. Astronauts like Armstrong and Aldrin (and all those who came after them) had no guarantees they’d come home alive, and yet they did it for us, for science, for history and because something inside them said, “this is where we must go.”

That impulse made Armstrong and his kind unique among men and women. A quiet man with nerves of steel. A shy smile that hid true grit.

For me, I just want to thank Mr. Armstrong for giving me a memory I can never forget and a lifelong love and fascination for space. I suspect millions around the world feel the same.