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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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  • A class act (Score:5, Insightful)

    by schwit1 (797399) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @03:25PM (#41124085)

    And a great pilot. You will be missed.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 25, 2012 @03:31PM (#41124137)
      I really hoped he would win the Tour de France again. ;_;
    • 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.

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

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 25, 2012 @03:43PM (#41124231)

      Neil Armstrong has truly been an inspiration to each and every one of us. What we wouldn't have done to be in his shoes when he made that One Small Step.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 25, 2012 @06:29PM (#41125371)

        Neil Armstrong has truly been an inspiration to each and every one of us. What we wouldn't have done to be in his shoes when he made that One Small Step.

        Not a damn thing, personally. I'd have wrecked that lander the second I touched the yoke, assuming I hadn't literally shit my life into my pants on liftoff. Some jobs require specific men, and I'd no more want to have stood in his shoes than I'd want to stare down the defense line in an NFL game or suddenly realize I'm in the water halfway across the English Channel.

        Some men are special, and he was one of those few.

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

          by CapOblivious2010 (1731402) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @08:33PM (#41125983)
          Have you ever seen an actual Apollo spacecraft? Live and up close? They're amazingly rickety and primitive looking; I'd be afraid to take one out on the highway, never mind all the way to the moon.

          When I saw the Apollo 16 (in Huntsville AL), I thought of that scene in star wars where they rescue the princess from the death star and she sees the millennium falcon and says "You came here in that? You're braver than I thought!".
          • Re:A class act (Score:4, Interesting)

            by rrhal (88665) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @09:35PM (#41126299)
            I saw the Apollo capsule in the Smithsonian - I couldn't spent 15 minutes in one of those let alone go to the moon and back.
          • by EdIII (1114411) on Sunday August 26, 2012 @02:12AM (#41127561)

            I thought of that scene in star wars where they rescue the princess from the death star and she sees the millennium falcon and says "You came here in that? You're braver than I thought!".

            I didn't take it as a real insult to the Millennium Falcon (always capitalized), just that Princess Leia was a little bit bitchy.

            What amazes me about that scene is how Han manages to keep his shit together and not throw her Hotness to Vader on the way out. Think about everything he had to deal with up to that point:

            - Effective death sentence from Jabba the Hut for losing a shipment
            - Stuck on a backwater planet just trying to get a drink and figure out what the fuck he is going to do next
            - Jedi, of all people, booking passage trying to get away from Imperials... and Imperials just love Jedi at this point.
            - Gay golden robot annoying as hell second guessing his decisions every other second
            - Sarcastic midget robot that just beeps all the time
            - Greedo, getting all up in his shit when he is trying to get the money to appease Jabba
            - It's implied... but you know Chewbacca probably shed like a mother fucker on that ship, lord help Han, when Chewy drops some super-fiber induced dump in the bathroom. Not a great idea to be burning matches in enclosed spaces with combustible gases on a star ship
            - Smart ass little blonde kid that has only seen that backwater planet, but already knows everything at 18.
            - The Death Star
            - Seriously, the fucking Death Star. What the fuck is that? A Star Destroyer was not big enough for the emperor, he needed a god damn movable planetoid full of storm troopers? Those same guys Han was just shooting at not moments before. You know the old saying... the Millennium Falcon may do the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs, but galactic communications are near instantaneous......
            - Tractor beam pulling him to the aforementioned planetoid of fuck my life.
            - Jail break goes horribly wrong. Han can't act for shit over the radio. Screws the pooch big time.
            - Her bitchiness. Kind of hot, Han knows she has a rough day, but seriously not even a little gratitude?
            - Stuck in a garbage compactor
            - What the fuck is that smell?
            - No.. No... What the fuck is in her with us
            - Garbage compactor is... well... compacting
            - Need Gay Golden Boy's help. Out of everyone Han knows, it's fucking Threepio that needs to nut up and come to the rescue
            - Sure.... I don't mind fighting a whole bunch of troops. You guys go ahead, me and Chewy are going to fuck their shit up

            - Bitch insults my ride just as we are about to get away.

            Yeah. I think Han was the very model of self restraint to still let her on the ship. I would of told Chewy to get the fuck on the ship and gone back to the bar alone.

      • 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.

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

      by C0R1D4N (970153) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @03:49PM (#41124289)
      I hope we send his ashes there at the very least.
    • by perpenso (1613749) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @03:51PM (#41124303)

      A class act. And a great pilot. You will be missed.

      Navy pilot - combat veteran, test/research pilot, aerospace engineer, university professor. Of course he was most famous for being an astronaut, commander of the Apollo 11 mission and the first to walk on the moon.

      He inspired generations of scientists and engineers. Because of Armstrong and his fellow astronauts my friends and I in elementary school knew math and science were important and were highly motivated to pay attention. We had real heroes are role models.

    • 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.

      • 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.

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

          by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday August 26, 2012 @01:15AM (#41127351) Homepage

          A process is fragile if it attempts to solve a crisis by planning ahead for all contingencies.

          The problem with your robust/fragile thesis is that NASA's primary methodology was the one you call fragile.
           

          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.

          Which is precisely what NASA didn't do. They spent months creating a set of mission rules that spelled out what to do in the case of a wide variety of casualties and circumstances. They then fine tuned those rules in the process of training controllers and astronauts to respond reflexively when they encountered a change of circumstances, a casualty or problem, or any other deviation from the current flight plan. (I say current because each mission had a whole raft of plans... for an earth orbit mission in case they couldn't execute TLI, for a lunar orbit mission in the even of a LM problem, etc...)

          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'.

          You're correct - that was the final contingency plan. Executed only if no other option existed. That is why their process was so robust - because there were layers to the plan.

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

        by MtViewGuy (197597) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @04:16PM (#41124505)

        I think it was Armstrong's ability to "stay calm" in times of crisis in the two instances you mentioned was the reason why he was chosen as mission commander on Apollo 11. During his days as X-15 test pilot, some test pilots at Edwards AFB thought he didn't have enough "stick and rudder" skills to handle sophisticated test vehicles, but Armstrong proved them all wrong....

        Godspeed, Neil Armstrong.

    • by spineboy (22918) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @04:17PM (#41124513) Journal

      I was 4 and remember being rushed inside by my parents and grandparents. Many people were crowded around our TV, as not everyone had one yet.

      That blurry, slow, staticy picture would forever inspire me to love space and science.

      We need more of this for our future. Money better spent on building and science as opposed to destruction....

      • by srobert (4099) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @04:34PM (#41124619)

        I was 6. My grandmother was watching with me. She told me that when she was my age, they hadn't yet flown the first aircraft. I think she was born in 1892. I extrapolated from this that by the time I grew up, there would be colonies on the moon, and I'd be living the life of George Jetson. I'm disappointed. But if it hadn't been for the Apollo program, I might not have become an engineer.

      • by TapeCutter (624760) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @08:37PM (#41125999) Journal
        I was 10, the day they landed I was so absorbed with the TV I sat on a plate of spaghetti and meat balls. It's hard to describe how important the TV was to people that day, the only other event I can think of that has come close to gluing that many people that strongly to a TV is 911. Every boy at my school wanted to be an astronaut in the same way we all wanted to be Superman, I think one Aussie eventually made a trip on the shuttle, still no sign of Superman. I do think it inspired millions of kids but it also set expectation too high and by the end of the 70's kids my age had worked out they were not going to be an astronaut and many of them lost interest, rather than being glued to their TV on the last moon shot they were calling the entire Apollo project a waste of money, nothing more than cold war saber rattling.

        Big science is bigger than ever these days, and with the internet it's cheaper and faster. It just does things more quietly, more of of background hum than a climatic touchdown. A Higgs bosun here, an MRI machine there, an internet everywhere. Some amazing space pics, some dire warnings, and all but forgotten smallpox. I agree we could do with a lot more of it, but it's how we use it that counts.
    • Re:A class act (Score:4, Interesting)

      by WindBourne (631190) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @06:37PM (#41125411) Journal
      RIP Neil. You worked hard to get the slot and had fun for the ride.

      I will say that he was a class act until recently. Over the course of the last couple of years, he allowed his politics to take hold. For example, he blasted SpaceX and stated that they would not be capable of launching humans, but spoke of private enterprise being required to take hold in space. Likewise, he blasted Obama for backing SpaceX, while ignoring the fact that the plan started in the mid-90s under NASA, killed by republicans, and then was restarted by Griffin and pushed by W.

      Up until he put his loyalty to his political party, he WAS a class act. One that cared for America. Just in the last couple of years, did he seem to lose that. But I do not think that should taint what he accomplished.
  • Oblig xkcd (Score:5, Interesting)

    by myrdos2 (989497) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @03:27PM (#41124103)

    http://xkcd.com/893/

    RIP Neil.

  • oblig xkcd (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lord Lode (1290856) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @03:27PM (#41124109)
  • A true loss (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mykepredko (40154) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @03:29PM (#41124123) Homepage

    One of the greatest men of the last century - thank you for your contributions to mankind.

    • One of the greatest explorers of all time; right up there with Columbus, Magellan and de Champlain.

    • by fm6 (162816) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @03:55PM (#41124341) Homepage Journal

      Sigh. Not to minimize Armstrong's achievements — which took courage, brains, and skill — but he himself would probably wince at your hype. One of the greatest men in the 20th century? He led a historic space mission. That's a big deal, but it's not in the same class as wiping out smallpox, discovering relativity, defeating Nazi Germany, holding a nation together with a third of its workers unemployed, laying the foundations of the computer revolution...

  • I'm too young... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by flogger (524072) <non@nonegiven> on Saturday August 25, 2012 @03:34PM (#41124165) Journal
    I'm too young to remember his accomplishments firsthand, but because of his accomplishments with the help of the entire infrastructure of the space race, I was able to grow up with the dream of living in a future in which I could visit the moon and mars... Now I feel that dream has died right along with him.
  • by Guano_Jim (157555) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @03:35PM (#41124175)

    And a loss for all mankind.

    Godspeed, Mr. Armstrong.

  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @03:41PM (#41124219)

    Mr. Armstrong, I watched you jumping about on the moon when I was nine years old. It was unbelievably cool! The future seemed to be one of boundless possibility.

    Now I'm older, and more cynical, and the world hasn't really turned into the place I thought it would be at this point - but whenever I think about your trip to the moon I'm suddenly a wide-eyed nine-year-old that still believes anything can happen. It gives me hope that mankind really will solve it's most vexing problems, once it finally decides to do so.

    Thank you for everything, sir. I hope your eternity is a pleasant one.

  • by tbq (874261) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @03:42PM (#41124223) Homepage
    At least NBC fixed the headline. It first read "Astronaut Neil Young, first man to walk on moon, dies at age 82."
  • by seifried (12921) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @03:48PM (#41124285) Homepage
    Everyone knows the real Neil Armstrong never left the moon, who do you think started building the first military moon base, and was later put in charge of it? In fact the entire Apollo program was designed to deliver astronauts to the moon, and then fake an Earth landing and use body double to replace them. Did you see how big the rocket needed to get all that crap to the moon was? And how small the lunar module was, no way did it have the power to escape to orbit and enough fuel to return to Earth. The Moon landings were real but the Earth landings are a HOAX!
  • by Picass0 (147474) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @03:49PM (#41124295) Homepage Journal

    A moment of silence for one of those who used math and fire to punch a hole in the sky.

  • A hero (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AbrasiveCat (999190) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @03:50PM (#41124299)
    One of my heroes. He will be missed.

    I was little during the moon landing and thought it was pretty cool! It was only later when I came to appreciate the hazards and the guts to do the moon landing.

  • by Grayhand (2610049) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @03:54PM (#41124337)
    If we do become a space faring people to future generations he will likely be the best remembered American. Name anyone that accomplished anything greater in the last 200+ years? There is only one person in all of human history that will be remembered as the first person to step foot on another world. Even to this day it's likely the greatest accomplishment of us as a species let alone as a nation.
    • 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 DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday August 25, 2012 @04:36PM (#41124631) Homepage

      Name anyone that accomplished anything greater in the last 200+ years?

      Jonas Salk, who eliminated polio. Louis Pasteur, who discovered germs. John Snow who proved that cholera spread via contaminated water and thus strengthened the case for public sanitation immeasurably... And just missing your 200 year deadline, Edward Jenner who introduced and championed vaccination.
       
      In just one field of human endeavor (medical science), these are people who caused change.
       
      As important as the moon landing is historically, Neil Armstrong was just a cog - the guy standing in the right place at the right time to be picked to pilot the mission.

  • by NemoinSpace (1118137) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @03:59PM (#41124379) Homepage Journal
    Never met Neil Armstrong. I suspect one day we will have a memorial park at tranquility base.
  • by zugurudumba (1009301) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @03:59PM (#41124381)
    Hundreds and thousands of years from now, people who made the first moon landing possible will live on through the name of Mr. Armstrong, who will continue to appear in the history books. Thank you, Mr. Armstrong.
  • by NemoinSpace (1118137) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @04:18PM (#41124519) Homepage Journal
    stupid statement,
    Armstrong wasn't born in Kenya.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 25, 2012 @04:18PM (#41124521)
  • by epp_b (944299) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @04:20PM (#41124543)

    ...then may his ashes be scattered among the moon's dust.

    Were I American, I'd be proud to see my taxes pay for such a mission. Heck, I'd be proud to see my *Canadian* tax dollars pay for it (though, it might only get them 99.742% of the way there ;)

    What a hero and what a sad day.

  • by Vainglorious Coward (267452) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @04:39PM (#41124669) Journal
    One last breath for a man, one enduring legend for mankind
  • by zentec (204030) * <zentec@gmailPERIOD.com minus punct> on Saturday August 25, 2012 @04:49PM (#41124745)

    I was fortunate to get a first hand viewing on TV of all the Apollo missions while bouncing on the knee of my father. The Apollo 11 astronauts were my first heroes and not long after I could read I enjoyed every book, magazine and encyclopedia article I found about them and their mission.

    Armstrong is the model on how to be a hero; do something exemplary and treat it as just another day at the office. Embrace knowledge, challenge your mind and enjoy your job. And when it's over, it is over. Armstrong shied away from the public spotlight and certainly passed on what would have been many lucrative opportunities to cash-in on his fame. Instead, he remained pretty much the same person after the mission as before.

    Sad day today, to know of the loss of a great person.

  • State Funeral? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) <obsessivemathsfreakNO@SPAMeircom.net> on Saturday August 25, 2012 @05:07PM (#41124857) Homepage Journal

    While I do understand that the US is in financial difficulty, it strikes me as important that the first man to walk on the Moon---on another celestial sphere---should be given a significant send off.

    Frankly, I think the funeral should be at least on par with that expected for a _sitting_ president, and probably beyond. It may well end up being the most important funeral, or the most important man, in the history of the United States, if not the world.

    Neil Armstrong deserves a state procession---an international procession. America and the World owe both he and his generation that much at least.

    • Re:State Funeral? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by geekmux (1040042) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @05:51PM (#41125137)

      While I do understand that the US is in financial difficulty, it strikes me as important that the first man to walk on the Moon---on another celestial sphere---should be given a significant send off.

      Frankly, I think the funeral should be at least on par with that expected for a _sitting_ president, and probably beyond. It may well end up being the most important funeral, or the most important man, in the history of the United States, if not the world.

      Neil Armstrong deserves a state procession---an international procession. America and the World owe both he and his generation that much at least.

      He deserves exactly what every other person deserves when they pass away.** Their last wishes granted.

      It's nice and all that we sit back and "demand" these glorious sendoffs, but in all honestly, I'd much rather respect a man of honor and whatever wishes he had for his end.

      (** = I was going to use the words "leave this world" in reference to his celestial passing, but he's kind of BTDT already. ;-)

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