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Astronaut Neil Armstrong Has Died 480

Posted by timothy
from the he-had-a-very-good-run dept.
dsinc writes "Neil Armstrong, first man on the Moon, has died. NBC News broke the news, without giving other details. Neil was recovering from a heart-bypass surgery he had had a couple of weeks ago. Sad news, marking the end of a glorious and more optimistic era... RIP, Neil." Also at Reuters.
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Astronaut Neil Armstrong Has Died

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  • Re:A class act (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 25, 2012 @03:32PM (#41124145)

    Don't forget, he was one of the first true engineer-pilot astronauts.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 25, 2012 @03:38PM (#41124195)

    The boomers were teenagers or just graduating college when Armstrong walked on the moon. It was the generation before. There's a reason they call them "the greatest generation".

  • Re:A class act (Score:5, Informative)

    by Niklas Ohlsson (1281818) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @03:52PM (#41124319)

    And with balls of steel, he proved this with the uncontrollably rolling Gemini 8 and the successful manual landing on the moon.

  • Re:A class act (Score:5, Informative)

    by Tablizer (95088) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @03:56PM (#41124349) Homepage Journal

    He was known for his patience and concentration in difficult situations. In early Earth orbit tests, his capsule was spinning out of control off-axis due to a faulty stabilizer nozzle. He used the spares to straighten the ship even though it was difficult to tell which end was "up".

    He later had to bail out of a LEM lander during a test run in the desert just barely in time to open the chute as the lander crashed. He came to work the next day cool and calm as if it was any other work day, yet determined to find out what went wrong.

    And then during the Apollo 11 landing, he took control from the auto-pilot because the lander was headed for some large boulders. Fuel was running out because back then they didn't know the moon's center of gravity was offset from its physical center. The margin was tiny, but he found a way.

    They picked the right guy for the mission.

  • by perpenso (1613749) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @04:10PM (#41124445)

    He was non-military, for one.

    He was a former Naval Aviator who flew combat missions in Korea. This experience probably made a significant contribution to his ability to remain focused and calm.

    Retired is not "non-military".

  • Re:A class act (Score:5, Informative)

    by mvdwege (243851) <mvdwege@mail.com> on Saturday August 25, 2012 @04:11PM (#41124471) Homepage Journal

    It's even better than that. NASA in the sixties and seventies showed us just how powerful a robust process is.

    A process is fragile if it attempts to solve a crisis by planning ahead for all contingencies. Inevitably an incident will happen that was not planned for, and the whole edifice will fail.

    A robust process assumes something unforeseen will go wrong, and concentrate on making sure that there are adequate resources to respond in an ad-hoc manner.

    NASA's processes in the Apollo project relied on a robust response: when anything went wrong, a highly qualified person was on the spot to think of a response and execute it. Sure they planned for incidents, but the final contingency plan was to have smart people with high stress tolerance to provide incident response 'on the ground'.

    Armstrong was one of the exemplary examples of those people. He was by no means the only one though.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 25, 2012 @04:12PM (#41124473)

    Is of him and Buzz Aldrin walking on the moon. My dad worked for Grumman and worked on the LEM.

    A great man has left us. RIP.

  • by shipbrick (929823) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @04:17PM (#41124511)
    "A scientific colleague tells me about a recent trip to the New Guinea highlands, where she visited a stone age culture hardly contacted by Western civilization. They were ignorant of wristwatches, soft drinks, and frozen food. But they knew about Apollo 11. They knew that humans had walked on the Moon. They knew the names of Armstrong and Aldrin and Collins." from A Pale Blue Dot by Carl Sagan
  • by perpenso (1613749) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @04:20PM (#41124541)

    Neil wasn't the quarterback, he was the football.

    When the football has a bad spin or tumbles it does not correct the spin/rotation itself. Armstrong did so with a Gemini capsule that was in danger of going out of control. Similarly he had to land Apollo 11 manually when the computers were hazarding the ship. He was a pilot, not a passenger.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 25, 2012 @05:04PM (#41124839)
  • by catchblue22 (1004569) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @05:16PM (#41124909) Homepage

    He had The Right Stuff [imdb.com].

    I really used to like that movie. Ed Harris as Neil Armstrong. Perfect casting. One thing I really got out of that movie was how NASA originally wanted to have the astronauts as ballast, giving them little or no ability to pilot the craft. Neil Armstrong was one of the astronauts who protested, and forced NASA to outfit the capsules with pilot controls. If you look at the Gemini capsules, they actually do resemble airplane cockpits if looked at from the right perspective [photobucket.com].

    Off to the wild blue yonder. RIP

  • by ravenknight (1844930) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @05:46PM (#41125095)

    Cursorily is only like the 2nd non-terrestrial craft

    Bzz! Wrong. Voyager 1,2; Galileo; Viking 1,2; New Horizons, etc see wikipedia [wikipedia.org] for a larger and more complete listing.

  • by catmistake (814204) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @06:26PM (#41125353) Journal

    There were twelve.
    Neil Armstrong - Apollo 11 - July, 1969
    Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin - Apollo 11 - July, 1969
    Charles "Pete" Conrad - Apollo 12 - November, 1969
    Alan Bean - Apollo 12 - November, 1969
    Alan Shepard - Apollo 14 - February, 1971
    Edgar Mitchell - Apollo 14 - February, 1971
    David Scott - Apollo 15 - July, 1971
    James Irwin - Apollo 15 - July, 1971
    John Young - Apollo 16 - April, 1972 (also on Apollo 10, without landing)
    Charles Duke - Apollo 16 - April, 1972
    Eugene Cernan - Apollo 17 - December, 1972 (also on Apollo 10, without landing)
    Harrison Schmitt - Apollo 17 - December, 1972

  • Re:A class act (Score:4, Informative)

    by WindBourne (631190) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @06:52PM (#41125485) Journal
    Actually, many pilots, esp. commercial and military, are engineers. And as to the early astronauts being scientist, that was not as much. Most of them had several degrees, but it was normally related (engineering and math, or engineering and physics).
  • Re:A class act (Score:4, Informative)

    by arth1 (260657) on Sunday August 26, 2012 @12:07AM (#41127069) Homepage Journal

    What we wouldn't have done to be in his shoes when he made that One Small Step.

    It'd be painful, but I'd force my size 13 feet into his size 10 boots if I could.

    But no, I wouldn't want to be first. That honor I gladly give to the daredevils like Neil Armstrong. He will be remembered, and it's well deserved.

    At least he did not get to "celebrate" December 13 this year, when it will be 40 years since the last man on the moon.

    As for the first man... Well, it's one of my earliest childhood memories. My father had bought us a TV for the occasion. In a wooden cabinet with a lockable sliding door. The screen was far smaller than most monitors today, but we thought it was huge. As was the realization that humans walked on the moon! While it might not have been the direct reason for my becoming an engineer, it certainly influenced it. I learned how to use a slide rule before I could ride a bike because of Armstrong, Aldrin, Gagarin and all the other great pioneers.

    And as I raise a glass to Yuri once a year, I will raise one to you too. You live in our dreams. One day man will go to space again and explore strange new worlds. One day. Thanks for proving it possible.

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