Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Neil Armstrong 05/08/1930-25/08/2012

Last weekend brought around the news of another take-off. Neil Armstrong, the first man from Earth to step on another celestial body, left this earth forever on August 25th. To anyone who had watched the grey, grainy footage of two men in bulky astronaut gear moving awkwardly on the powdery surface at the edge of the Sea of Tranquility, on July 21, 1969, it is the end of an era of exploration and excitement. The unmanned planetary probes of the present day, despite their utility and ingenuity are not quite the same.

 The man who said, `This is a small step for man, a giant leap for mankind', (and is widely suspected of having fluffed his lines), was a more than worthy representative of the species. An aeronautical engineer, a crack test pilot, a Korean war hero, a veteran astronaut,   a good family man, and a boy scout to boot (he even sent greetings to his local scout troupe from Columbia,  the mission ship of Apollo 11), he was an embodiment of the American dream. After his historic mission, he held senior administrative positions in NASA, but found them tedious, and left NASA for a professorship in Aeronautical Engineering at the University of Cincinnati, as well as the directorship of several companies.  His loss is mourned by not just his immediate family, but by everyone who has looked at the sky and recalled that mankind is no longer confined to this Earth.

Rest in Peace.

This blog post is by Neelima Gupte and Sumathi Rao. 

For a song of those times, click here.